Category Archives: branding

Pride in London: Love Happens Here | WCRS

WCRS were commissioned by Pride in London to create a campaign for Pride 2017, whilst also marking 50 years since the legalisation of homosexuality in the UK. The campaign has been huge, featuring TV ads for Pride for the first time ever. In fact, the campaign has been split into two narratives – love and hate – to portray both ends of the spectrum for the LGBT+ community.

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The first part of the multimedia campaign explored hate crime, emotionally and physically, including posters, Wi-Fi takeover, an event, London taxi skins and a film:

Additionally, an advert directed by Fred Scott will appear exclusively on Channel 4 during a special season of programming, followed by four films. The emotional advert (below) ‘The Apology’, features apologies from those who have lost relationships with love ones after judging and not accepting their sexuality:

 

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The second part of the multimedia campaign, released today, will include digital OOH sites portraying real life love stories from members of the LGBT+ community, illustrated by 30 different artists and illustrators. Illustrators have created the works for free, using the branded heart ‘pin’ icon, which will be available at the Tate as part of their Queer Britain season.
Here’s a few of my favourite illustrations:

Love stories are available on Pride’s interactive love map:

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The ‘Love’ aspect of the campaign aims to show that love happens in London despite the sad reality of the ‘Hate’ part. Ross Neil, ECD at WCRS said:

This is a campaign that started from a negative place of hatred and has blossomed into a full technicolour, full volume, inclusive expression of love. The greatness of the creative is matched only by the sheer scale of companies and individuals.

The campaign doesn’t stop there – Pride are encouraging Londoners to create their own pins and share their love stories on social media. It’s a fantastic campaign, and whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the original heart pin design itself, the multi faceted narrative this campaign has explored is wonderful.

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BBC Creative / Mother: Sorry Not Sorry for Being Me

Ad agency Mother (London) have teamed up with BBC Creative to create a branding campaign for BBC Three’s new project. Created by Mother Design, the campaign is for a new season of original programming about self-expression – something that sounds right up my street! This is an integrated campaign, which the audience can contribute towards. Engaging with young, diverse viewers with a message about identity and uniqueness, the aim is to promote BBC Three, and ignite a conversation about self-identity. The campaign also encourages viewers to create their own poster and share it on social media platforms.

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The campaign includes online media, DOOH, billboards, broadcasting through the BBC’s own channels, and social media:

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I’m definitely a fan of this campaign both in terms of concept and execution. The art direction is simple but bold. It’s also nice to recognise the faces of those in the campaign (above)!

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Skittles: Give the Rainbow | Disingenuous marketing tactic or LGBT+ ally?

Last year, ad agency adam&eveDDB (represent!) created a campaign for Pride by stripping off their iconic rainbow colour packaging. The “letter” part of the campaign reads:

So this is kind of awkward, but we’re just gonna go ahead and address the rainbow-colored elephant in the room. You have the rainbow … we have the rainbow … and usually that’s just hunky-dory.  But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the centre of attention—yours. And we’re not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree.

This year, Skittles have brought back the campaign, and it got me questioning the disingenuous nature around using LGBT+ issues for marketing purposes. I’ve blogged about this concern numerous times, and I think it’s important to do one’s research before making any assumptions about a brand’s sincerity. I’m sat at my desk in adam&eveDDB writing this, so putting my bias aside I automatically had negative connotations towards this campaign as many brands use social issues as a marketing ploy. My first thought was “what are they doing to actually support the LGBT community in a physical way? Are they donating? Are they providing support for LGBT youth? Are they supporting families who have lost victims of transphobic violence?”
On a totally creative, marketing, ideas-based note, the campaign idea itself is great – simple, but great. There’s been a weird online backlash claiming that the sweets are racist for promoting “white Pride”. I don’t understand that. The campaign has nothing to do with race.

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Skittles’ aim was to tell Pride that they didn’t want to steal their “rainbow thunder”, but some have said that using the the LGBT rainbow connotations as a campaign is doing exactly that. With these LGBT issues so close to my heart, it’s hard to see past the fact that Skittles (Wrigley UK) are just doing their job – creating a marketing strategy to boost sales and awareness of the brand.
However, the positive side of me wants to say that all publicity is good publicity – if a brand is openly supporting their LGBT employees and consumers, that can’t hurt! In reference to my earlier point regarding actions speaking louder than words, I discovered that for Pride 2017 the limited edition rainbow-less Skittles packets are in association with Tesco, who are donating 2p per packet to Tesco’s LGBT+ charity partners. Skittles aim is to show their support again for Pride, and to celebrate diversity and inclusion. I’m glad this statement is backed up by an actual charitable donation rather than jumping on the back of a very important celebration of human rights.

To conclude, Skittles absolutely are LGBT+ allies, and I’m so happy to see that Tesco are too!

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Nike | Go Lighter, Go Longer: ManvsMachine

I’ve been a huge fan of design and motion studio ManvsMachine for years, and their latest award winning project for Nike goes to show that they’ve undoubtedly still got it! Winning the only UK design studio gold at Cannes Lions 2017, they explored the created a “metaphorical exploration of air and the negative space it occupies”.
The campaign was created for the new Nike Air Max, exploring negative space with a colour scheme I’ve totally fallen in love with.

The designs work flawlessly as both a motion piece (above) and as 2D images (below). The campaign has been executed across numerous mediums including social media, DOOH, billboards and product packaging. I am obsessed.

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Greg Heinimann: Book Cover Design for Reni Eddo-Lodge

Designer and illustrator Greg Heinimann was curated by author and journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge to design a book cover for her much talked about book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’. Reni had originally published a blog post which received so much attention that she decided to write a book about racism in Britain.

I had heard about Reni’s book a few months ago via a post shared by a friend on Facebook. I am yet to read the the entire book, but it seems like something that everyone should be interested in educating themselves about. I recommend reading the blog post called ‘I, Racist’ by John Metta, in which he thanks Reni for talking about racism long before I had the courage to start doing it again”.

The book is published by Bloomsbury, where Heinimann is an art director. The brief requested a typography-only design, and after many rejected concepts, he created something that from a distance reads “Why I’m No Longer Talking … About Race”. Contextually this reflects the message from Reni regarding white people ignoring racism and their privilege:

I was trying to convey the human interaction behind the title. More importantly, I wanted to play with people’s first impressions and interactions with the book and create a double take in public. The crux of the book is that white people won’t engage in conversation on the topic [of race].

I love the design of the book and you can see the previous concepts here. Greg has created something so simple yet very aesthetically pleasing, whilst still remaining on context with the subject of the book.

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California: Designing Freedom | The Design Museum

If you haven’t been to the new building for the Design Museum which recently relocated to Kensington, you are missing out. The architecture and gift shop alone are worth a visit!
The exhibition “California” caught my eye based on the parts that explore ‘freedom’. The exhibition explores more than just the expression of human rights freedom:

California: Designing Freedom explores how the ideals of the 1960s counterculture morphed into the tech culture of Silicon Valley, and how ‘Designed in California’ became a global phenomenon.

The central premise is that California has pioneered tools of personal liberation, from LSD to surfboards and iPhones. This ambitious survey brings together political posters and portable devices, but also looks beyond hardware to explore how user interface designers in the San Francisco Bay Area are shaping some of our most common daily experiences. By turns empowering, addictive and troubling, Californian products have affected our lives to such an extent that in some ways we are all now Californians.

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Aside from the array of Apple inventions and iconic technological advances that California has blessed the world with, the most interesting part of the exhibition for me was “Say What You Want”. Described as “tools of self expression and rebellion”, this part of the exhibition showcased artefacts that were created to highlight racism, sexism and homophobia:

P.S. sorry for the awful photo quality! Taken on my phone.

It was incredible being able to be so close to relics that were created to protest against the biggest human rights movements in the world. They even displayed newspaper articles from the past, and contemporary pieces created against Trump’s America.
I cannot recommend this show enough. It has to be one of my (if not THE) all time favourite exhibitions.

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Type With Pride

Gilbert Baker was the creator of the iconic Rainbow Flag (1978) and an LGBTQ activist and artist. On 31st March 2017 Baker passed away, leaving a legacy of one of the most iconic and globally recognisable flags.

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To honour him, NewFest and NYC Pride collaborated with ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and typeface creator Fontself to create an open-source font called “Gilbert”.

The Gilbert font was originally designed for striking headlines and statements that could live on banners for rallies and protests and it is now currently being built out into a whole family of weights and styles. The font is available in two versions, a standard vector font and a colour font (in OpenType-SVG format) currently usable in Photoshop CC 2017 only. Both are early beta previews that you can download below for free, and you can follow @TypeWithPride on Instagram and on our development blog for news about new font weights, styles and creative contests.

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You can see more examples of the font on posters here. Whilst I love the sentiment, and the context behind the idea, I can’t say I love the font itself. Personally, I think it works best as either singular letters or very short phrases/words (which is perfect for ‘LGBTQ’). However, with long quotes such as the one on my header image above, it just doesn’t work for me. What do you think of the font?

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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:

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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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Grey becomes Valenstein & Fatt

In 1917 anti-semitism was rife – having a Jewish name would do you no favours in a predominantly white, male industry like advertising. In New York, Jewish entrepreneurs Lawrence Valenstein and Arthur Fatt, set up a company called ‘Grey’ which is now one of the largest advertising networks in the world. However, they didn’t name the agency after themselves like others did, and it’s been debated whether or not Grey would have been as successful with the name ‘Valenstein & Fatt’. As sad and unfair as this seems, xenophobia was the norm, and many Jewish people around the world hid their surnames in an attempt to “fit in” with society, along with other minorities who have done the same.

Unfortunately, it seems as if this attitude towards cultural, religious and racial differences has in fact not evolved as much as you’d expect over the last 100 years – the recent election of the US President is a prime example of how common xenophobia still is, worldwide:

Fast forward to 2017: Everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed.
Too much in this world is still ugly. We know that the more diverse we are, the more powerful our ideas will be. So we will continue to celebrate difference. To break down barriers to progress and opportunity. We believe that everyone has the right to put their name above their door. Whoever you are, wherever you come from. We are Open.

Along with a prejudiced President in the USA, here in the UK ‘Article 50’ is being triggered this week, creating a final divide between the UK and Europe. With these events in mind, Grey is communicating a message of diversity and inclusion by recognising their Jewish founders, whilst hoping to create a conversation about diversity in advertising.
Unfortunately the name change will only be for 100 days, which is a shame, and almost makes this campaign seem like a bit of a gimmick… Although they claim the name change is “a mark of how far we’ve come, but how much there is still left to do”, I can’t help but feel as if it’s just a marketing ploy without any actual lasting impact or strong, dedicated message if they’re just going to change the name back.

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Valenstein & Fatt have written a manifesto about how they will lead by example:

1) We are publishing our diversity data. Progress cannot be made without clear measures and transparency about who we are today. Our new study is independent and in depth and is based on the voluntary responses of 305 individuals, which represents over 60% of the agency and reported according to standards set by the British Office of National Statistics (ONS). Research developed in partnership with PSB examines roots, identity, education and lifestyle. It will be measured and shared annually and we are encouraging other agencies to take it up as their methodology.

2) We are launching a cross industry taskforce to identify the barriers to recruitment and retention of talent among ethnic minorities. The first gathering will be chaired by CEO Leo Rayman, and we are inviting leading organisations in this space and the most progressive agencies, including Chairwoman of Mediacom, Karen Blackett, to join us in agreeing industry-wide initiatives and targets. We will also commit to targets for our advertising output, to ensure that it is nationally representative. 

3) We are launching the Valenstein & Fatt Bursary to pay a year’s rent for up to two young people from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds. To qualify, candidates must have been offered a job at Grey, be state educated and live outside of Greater London. Applications are open from this summer.

4) We will inspire the next generation, by working with 100 primary and secondary schools to introduce students to a career in the creative industries. Working with Exec Head Michelle Williams and education therapist Jodie Cariss and starting with the New Wave Federation primary schools in London’s Hackney, we will offer a tailor made programme for the schools involved, from assemblies to full day workshops, coaching and agency open days.

5) We will develop our diverse talent. Recognising that recruiting people with different start points isn’t enough, 50 individuals identified as ones to watch will be matched and formally mentored by our Executive and senior leadership. In parallel we will run Community mentoring workshops open to any member of the agency who wants to participate.

That’s all fantastic, and it’s lovely to see such an influential agency speak out against prejudice, but I don’t believe they should have done this without 100% committing to a permanent name change. What’s the point otherwise?

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