Monthly Archives: April 2017

Pepsi, this is how it’s done. Heineken: Worlds Apart | #OpenYourWorld

Remember the best April Fools joke of all time (aka Pepsi’s car-crash ad featuring Kendall Jeanner)? Well, it seems Heineken has taken on the concept of ‘peacemaking via the sharing a drink’ in their new ad “Worlds Apart”.
The spot features sets of people who have opposing views on feminism, climate change and gender. They are tasked with a team building construction project, then shown their VT tapes (which reveal their opinions) and consequently asked if they wish to stay for a beer or leave. Whilst I have my doubts about the authenticity whenever brands use social and political discussions in ad concepts, I think Heineken pulls this off nicely. Pepsi should take note.

At the end of the ad, I found myself smiling about the fact that the transphobic man used the correct pronouns for the trans* woman: “I’d have to tell my girlfriend that I’ll be texting another girl. She might be a bit upset with that, but I’ll have to get around that one.”

What makes this work 10 million times better than the Pepsi ad? Well, agency Publicis London targeted a post-Brexit UK (like Pepsi tried and failed to do in a post-Trump world) by including discussion and conversation within the ad, rather than attempting to create a satire-style video with white-washing for ‘the resistance’. The suggestion that a beverage can heal a very divided society is a strong and fragile statement, and whilst I have my doubts about the intentions of brands who go down this route, this is the perfect counteragent for our Pepsi wounds.

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Pepsi: What Were You Thinking?!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about the catastrophic backlash Pepsi has received for their new TV and digital campaign featuring TV star and model Kendall Jenner. Created by its in-house creative team, Creators League Studio, we see Jenner on a modelling shoot who joins a protest mid-shoot. What is the protest for? I have no idea. No one knows.

Creatively, the advert is crap anyway. However, in terms of a brand ambassador, Kendall is actually the perfect candidate to reflect Pepsi’s pop culture background, which has previously featured other famous faces like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Beyonce. They could have worked with her social media influence and her fashion background to create a successful and fun campaign, but instead created a monster that has deeply offended and shocked so many people all over the world.
So how on earth did Pepsi get it so wrong? After a lot of thought since the ad was first released, here are my theories as to how this cultural tragedy unfurled:

  1. Diversity in the workplace: clearly no one of colour had any input in the narrative of this ad. Creators League Studio evidently do not have enough people of the backgrounds that they wish to represent in this ad.
  2. Work and fear culture: how the f*ck did this get approved?! How did no one at the Studio say “wait a minute, this concept seems really contrived”? Is there a culture there that makes people feel unable to stand up for what is right and wrong? I could never sit back and be part of something that I know is fundamentally wrong for humanity.
  3. Experience: without doubt, no one working on the commercial has ever been involved in a protest, experienced inequality, racial profiling, seclusion or segregation. Despite this, even if you have never experienced these things, surely you must know about it? The internet exists. History exists. There is no excuse.

The most disturbing and spoken about part of this advert is the scene were Jenner hands a Pepsi to a police officer. Firstly, this insinuates that protest can be solved by soda, which is highly insulting (the internet has gone meme-crazy on this subject). Secondly, and most importantly, this contrived scene is clearly mirroring that of the real life hero Ieshia Evans who faced police in Baton Rouge:

2016: A Picture and its Story

Ieshia Evans was detained by law enforcement when she protested after the shooting (and death) of African American Alton Sterling near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department. Both prior to that incident and after that iconic photo was taken there have been countless protests in cities like Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri that occurred due to the police killing of black men. It has become an epidemic that is impossible to avoid on the news or on social media. There is no way Pepsi haven’t seen this image or heard of the protests.
Aside from the shocking claim that a can of Pepsi will create world peace, the contrast of ‘peace givers’ (Iesha and Kendall) is beyond insulting. Kendall is a white, cis, privileged, able-bodied, rich celebrity – if Pepsi wanted to create a peace-making, hero narrative they should’ve chosen an activist or a real-life hero.

DeRay McKesson, a leading activist in the Black Lives Matter movement said:

If I had carried Pepsi, I guess I never would have gotten arrested. Who knew? Pepsi, this ad is trash.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. In a world where violence and discrimination against African Americans has by no means decreased over the last century (if anything, it is getting worse), this has to be the most offensive, tone-deaf and contrived advert created during my lifetime.
What’s equally as perverse as using a real-life protest is the bizarre use of every token minority. The ad desperately tries to feature every single age, race, religion, gender, sexuality – whilst I praise diversity and inclusion in advertising, the clear attempt to show “co-existing” makes the Muslim woman and the “token-black-dude” stand out even more. It’s like they all sat at the casting couch and tried to tick off every single stereotypical type of person they could saying “yeah, she’s ethnic enough”.

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Pepsi’s exploitative brand social activism concept has been spoken about so much that according to data from Amobee Brand Intelligence, digital content engagement around Pepsi has increased to 366% in just a day, including mentions of Black Lives Matter, the use of the phrase “tone-deaf” and tagging the ad as the “worst ever.”
An incredible amount of people have spoken out against how Pepsi have exploited the enduring suffering of marginalised people, so I have no idea how Pepsi will ever come back from this. Yesterday, they removed the ad and released this apology on their website:

PURCHASE, N.Y., April 5, 2017 “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position.”

I’m glad they have apologised, and that the ad has been removed, but I really hope this has been a huge wakeup call for advertising and marketing. I hope Pepsi get rid of their “creatives” and use ad agencies for the future. But, will anyone want to be associated with them? I guess if the price is right…
Pepsi claim that they did not intend to refer to any particular significant issues, but the notion of a protest itself is to make a stand against a social issue. So, what social were they trying to represent? All I see is cringey peace signs and random words. Trivialising protest in an age where people are desperate to see change is an insult beyond repair, in my eyes. I’ve written about jumping on the bang-wagon when it comes to social issues (such as using LGBT characters in ad narratives), and I find myself shaking my head in shame when the scenes cut to young, attractive people blatantly drinking Pepsi (got to get in that product placement) and laughing. This itself shows how the creatives involved have clearly never been involved in anything mildly political, because no one stands around posing, giggling and pouting at a protest. We even see a fist bump. A f*cking fist bump.

Allen Adamson, founder of Brand Simple Consulting said:

It’s trivializing the seriousness of the issue, that merely a can of Pepsi could solve all of the problems on the streets of our country. To some extent, it’s polarizing to the Black Lives Matter movement because it makes it seem like much ado about nothing, if you just passed some out at your demonstrations this wouldn’t happen.

Following this, something that also concerns me is the actors in the advert. Whilst it’s evident that the creatives themselves have no sense of privilege and suffering, why did the multi-cultural cast agree to take part in this ad? Did they not know the entire concept prior to filming? Were they desperate for their next big break? Did the mention of Kendall Jenner appear too appealing to turn down? It’s the same confused, cringe-worthy feeling I had when I saw African Americans defending Trump during the election. How can anyone from a marginalised group associate themselves with this?!

I could spend all day writing about what is wrong with this advert. There is nothing right about it, and if you can’t see how much of a disaster it is, you need to educate yourself and understand your own privilege. We will never move away from segregation, racism and violence if we don’t collectively stand up for what is right. This is beyond poor creative work – it’s a enormous, humiliating and derogatory kick in the teeth.

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Leo Burnett: Samsung | Ostrich

At the end of March, ad agency Leo Burnett (Chicago) released the advert commissioned by Samsung which premiered at Unpacked‘, the launch event for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. 

What happens if you refuse to listen to what “can’t be done?” Samsung believes the only way to achieve the impossible is by refusing to accept anything is. #DoWhatYouCant

The idea focuses on an Ostrich’s dreams coming true after stumbling across a VR headset and experiencing flight simulation (fyi Ostriches can’t fly – they’re built for running), alongside the iconic Elton John song ‘Rocket Man’.
Leo Burnett is the talk of the advertising town with this adorable, hopeful advert. It’s definitely a hit, and I think it works even better with an Ostrich than it perhaps would with humans as the main focal point.
There’s a lot of really really awful crappy advertising at the moment, and I’m struggling to be inspired by creative TV ad concepts… but this ‘dreams come true’ concept is pure genius. If this doesn’t win an award, I’ll eat my hat!

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Best April Fools Day 2017 Pranks and Jokes in Advertising and Marketing

I’ve accumulated a collection of my top 10 favourite pranks from the creative world this year. It was hard to choose from such an array of alternative facts, that’s for sure. (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that 70% of the fake campaigns I found whilst researching for this post had something to do with dogs…)

10. Google Play for Pets:

Google has introduced a new category of games, apps and training tools to keep your pet stimulated:

Updates include:

  • New collections of games, apps and training tools your pets will love
  • 5-Paw rating system
  • Notifications when your pet has logged in
  • Multiplayer mode for nose-to-nose competition
  • Virtual Reality games to simulate real play

This fake product actually looks like something I can imagine happening in the not so distant future! I’m fairly certain I’ve already heard of apps and devices used to interact with dogs left at home all day…

 

9. Honda Blend

Honda Canada created Honda Blend, a blender for your car. It includes a blender and a refrigerated glove box to store the fruit and veg, and it even comes with an ‘exclusive cup system’.
Not so much a prank – just a fake product with funny undertones.

 

8. Google Gnome

The smart yard has finally arrived – Meet Google Gnome. See how Gnome can transform your yard.

I love this satirical take on Google Home for outside.

 

 

7. Virgin Australia Canine Crew

We are excited to unleash our new Virgin Australia Canine Crew in a world first initiative. On select flights, a Canine Crew member will work alongside our award-winning Cabin Crew team to offer a range of additional services.

This is a fake ad, but I’m going to call it a prank because Virgin are pranking all of us by creating such a wonderful and beautiful idea that’s not going to happen. Do not put this adorable idea in my head! Imagine the amount of fearful fliers who have their vertigo cured by puppy cuddles! Therapy flying.

 

6. IKEA: The Updated Småland

We’re about to transform Småland from a playground into a ‘press-play-ground’! Our studies of children’s play habits reveal that today’s kids prefer tablets to physical activity. So we’re replacing the magical forest with a haven of sitting pods with tablets—recreating the way your kids play.

The best part about this prank is the reactions on Facebook…

Leon Koh Kids should be running around giggling and playing. This pic of this beautiful gal with an expressionless face looks so scary to me as a parent

Wendy Choo This is so sad, why do the kids haf to come into IKEA just to face a tablet. Having fun is to move around exploring the surrounding and interacting with others. This is too lonely.

Leslie Lee So sad… Robot land. I thought Scandinavian education is different.

Conclusion: people are idiots and advertising works.

 

5. Hinge Parental Controls

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Dating app ‘Hinge’ introduced Parental Controls, “a dashboard in your Hinge account for your mom and dad to access.” Parents can set their preferences for your potential matches, such as choosing an occupation, timeframe for children, distance from parents, and select which holidays they’re available for visits. This genuinely sounds like something people would use.

 

4. Puppy Mudder/Tough Mudder

Introducing our newest event series, Puppy Mudder presented by Nulo. Starting in 2017, your fearless fluffy friend will be able to dominate our muddy courses across the globe. Events will feature fresh takes on classic obstacles like Barktic Enema, Electroshock Therapuppy, and more #PuppyMudder.

Yes, another dog related prank! The way this is filmed is so great, and apart from ‘Electroshock Therapuppy’ could actually be quite fun.

 

3. Pop chips: Cheddar “Cheese”

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Why go with alternative snacks when you can elect the only chip that can fix literally everything that’s wrong with snacks? People say that 11 out of 10 Russian snackers prefer this flavour because it tastes really, really, really, very good. It’s the best snack. There’s no snack that tastes better. Patriot Puffs are perfect for frequent golf trips and early morning Twitter rants, and even better if you get someone else to pay for it! Let’s make America snack again!

  •  yuge flavour!
  •  tremendous crunch!
  •  puffed with hot air
  •  45% less than promised
  •  glutton free
  •  36% of snackers approve this flavour

A prank wouldn’t be a prank without inspiration form the biggest joke of all time – Donald Trump. Even the CTA is a play on one of his most infamous comments: “grab’em by the bags! (soon)“.  Even the copy on the bag of chips itself is hilarious and mocking of Trump.

 

2. NanoDrop (SodaStream)

THE GREATEST INVENTION SINCE DRINKING! NanoDrop is a revolutionary product which ensures a dramatic decrease in your carbon footprint while increasing your hydration levels. keeping you fresh, cool and so hot all at the same time! If style and responsibility ever hooked up, NanoDrop would be their baby.

You have to check out their website – the amount of effort put into this fake ad is incredible. God knows how much it cost to hire Paris Hilton as their fake celebrity endorser and inventor, but her satirical acting puts the cherry on top! This isn’t the first SodaStream ad I’ve appreciated – they have some fantastic creatives working on their ads.

1. PornHub shares your videos

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PornHub users that click a video receive a pop up that thanks them for sharing their porn viewing habits on social media.
This may not have as much pandemonium and creative output as some of the others, but PornHub 100% have to claim the top spot by creating the scariest, creepiest prank of all time. I bet heart rates were sky high that day! Muahahaha

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