Tag Archives: business

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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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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Nokia 3310 is My Ultimate Nostalgia: Will the New Version Destroy my Childhood Memories?

I’m scrolling through my Twitter feed, I read “the Nokia 3310 is being resurrected” and my first thought is a negative one: “there’s no way they will recreate the original Nokia 3310 in all it’s shit brick glory!” Well, I was right! The first, and most obvious change is that the 2017 ‘version’ has a colour screen, as it runs on Series 30. It also has a 2MP camera phone and a web browser. WTF.
I’m being precious, I’m being judgmental. I can’t help it – 2000 was the beginning of advanced phone technology, and my generation was a part of it. I was given my first phone at the tender age of 11, and spent a lot of my hard earned money on polyphonic ringtones and custom phone cases (Winnie the Pooh and Playboy Bunny being two of my favourites). After I had enough money I soon upgraded to a Motorola flip phone (still on pay-as-you-go, obviously) but secretly still enjoyed playing Snake on my mum’s 3310. Talking of Snake (one of the most iconic games in history) the new 3310 actually features the game, but visually it just doesn’t feel nostalgic for me – as mentioned above, firstly, the screen is in colour so that’s pretty heartbreaking, and secondly it has been replaced by a multi-directional navigation version, rather than the classic up down left and right. We don’t need any more directions!

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The new 3310 was revealed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday and was created by new mobile firm HMD Global, which licensed the Nokia brand last year. There are some improvements that might increase its appeal – apart from the new features mentioned above, it has almost halved in weight (so can no longer be referred to as ‘The Brick’ RIP), has a month (standby) battery life, is a third of the price (£42 rather than £129.99), uses a microUSB charge and has a micro SD card slot.
Here’s my problem with the new version of my beloved Brick: the aesthetics (and I presume the actual feel of the phone) are similar like the QWERTY keyboard and removable back, but who will be buying this if it isn’t identical to the original? Upon first hearing about the remake, I assumed the target market would be collectors and nineties kids. People going away on holiday usually don’t have to worry about charges abroad or phone damage because most people have contracts that allow for calls abroad and phone insurance. There’s no WiFi and no range of apps like the essentials Facebook and WhatsApp, so the only people I can imagine this would be suitable for is OAPs who struggle to adapt to technology and want simple call functions.

Penned as the the “detox phone”, I think Nokia’s aim for the the resurrection of the Nokia 3310 is to appeal as a cheap indestructible backup phone, riding on the back of a classic. Honestly, I don’t think people should be saying “The Nokia 3310 is back”, because it simply is not the same. It will be interesting to see how HMD Global market this phone – will they use nostalgia or endurance as their POS?
So, who is it for? You can buy basic phones for under £20 (we bought one for my grandparents) so drug dealers and festival goers won’t care, and it can’t be aimed at hipster techies because it isn’t the same phone…

 

Check out the demonstration by the Telegraph below:

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Advertising and Gay Men: How the Media Avoids Gay Intimacy in Advertising

One of the most beautiful and important things about working in the creative industry, whether it’s photography; graphic design; music; dance; acting; writing, is that it allows people of any background, gender, race, sexuality, age to express their opinions and beliefs in whatever medium they wish. The creative industry is at the forefront of self expression and freedom, which has always encouraged and inspired me to pursue a career in this field. Advertising in particular is, as we know, incredibly influential – whether you enjoy ads or just stare blankly during the commercial breaks – they can help convey messages to a wider audience.
Although I am part of British advertising, and we have produced some incredible and iconic work that is undoubtedly timeless, ever since I can remember having an interest in the industry I have been unable to shake off one very obvious tactic used by agencies: appearing pro-LGBT, but avoiding gay men. Obviously, showing gay couples in ads is a very recent (and important) thing, but as equality has progressed so rapidly in the last 10 years I have found myself questioning why the media prefers using lesbian characters over gay men.

Last night I watched a bizarre (but fascinating) documentary ‘For The Bible Tells Me So’, which documents the ways in which conservative Christians have exploited religious teachings and scriptures to deny LGBTQ+ rights. Without spoiling too much, one factor which stood out like a sore thumb was the fact that the parents (of gay children) being interviewed all expressed fears of having a “faggot son” (they said those exact words), even if the story ended up focusing around their lesbian daughter. There was a continual theme of obsessing over the fear of a gay son. As we all know, homophobic beliefs all stem from religion, and their target is 9 times out of 10 going to be gay men.
Why?! Well, as the husbands in these documentaries (and in most religious and/or homophobic households) have the final say on what goes, men generally have more discomfort towards gay men than lesbians. It all stems from a fear that gay men will try to have sex with them (don’t flatter yourself) or influence their sons’ ‘sexual behaviour’. It probably also relates to the fact that mentions of sexuality in the Bible only relate to men sleeping with other men. Lesbianism became publicly demonised during the Victorian era.
I have no idea why gay men seem to receive more homophobic abuse (I know, that is a sweeping statement), and this is particularly evident in the homophobic slurs used – I can name only a few related to lesbians, but gay insults based on gay men are endless. There is a fear and disgust surrounding gay sex, whereas lesbians are often used as part of the male sexual fantasy. Funnily enough, I always wonder whether these religious homophobes get off on girl-on-girl fantasies but heaven forbid two men together! Gross!

[Before I get into the advertising part of this blog, I want to say that I am by no means denying or deflecting homophobia against lesbians, nor am I insinuating that gay or queer women receive less discrimination than gay or queer men. These are merely my observations about the representation of gay men in advertising].

So what the hell does this have to do with advertising? I believe it all stems from the same place – whilst companies, agencies and brands are largely trying to be inclusive by introducing LGBT narratives, the avoidance of male couples is remarkably salient in advertising.
In the US (certain states, of course, we couldn’t have two guys in love being aired in Texas now could we) the depiction of a range of LGBT couples has been, overall, fantastic in comparison to what it was like as recently as 5 years ago. This is particularly amazing for gay men who seem to have an equal platform in terms of narrative to lesbian couples or female same-sex families. Certain states in the US are notorious for being openly pro-LGBT and have no qualms when it comes to presenting gay men in their commercials. A lovely example of this is cosmetics company Lush who recently launched a Valentines Day campaign for 2017 featuring non-heteronormative couples in their campaign. Wonderful! A gay couple are featured as a header on the US website, alongside other gay and lesbian and gender-nonconforming couples in the campaign:

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They even released a very sweet statement for the campaign:

At Lush we believe that love transcends gender. We set out to do one thing when creating our Valentine’s Day visuals, we wanted to capture love between two people and we believe that’s what we have done here. The fact that our loyal and loving fans are starting their own conversations using our visuals and #loveislove absolutely warms our hearts.

But, (and this is a big but), why on earth didn’t this transcend to the UK website for Valentines Day?! There is no mention of the LGBT campaign – no photos, no #loveislove hashtags, just a crappy photo of a heart-shaped bathbomb. This kind of contradiction and blatant picking-and-choosing of where to present certain messages makes the campaign and the company come off as inauthentic, consequently using the gay community to publicise a Valentine’s Day sale. Love is a universal experience, so why can’t Lush’s campaign be? My theory is that British ad men and women are too afraid to upset anyone. We are so apologetic and fearful of offending in the UK that it’s affecting how we stand up for what we believe in.
To reiterate, this seems to be a bizarre UK problem – as a country where gay marriage finally opened its doors to lots of British gay couples and proudly abolished Section 28, I struggle to accept that the advertising industry has moved forward in this way too. The only time I ever seem to see gay couples represented correctly in advertising is when Pride in London is being advertised!
Another very sweet Valentine’s Day campaign featuring a man proposing to his boyfriend by Hallmark has done a fantastic job at normalising gay love in a campaign with lots of other couples celebrating international the day of love:

There’s no hashtags about equality, no clickbait, no hint towards inclusivity, just a mix of normal people showing us what love means to them. Of course this was a campaign in the US! This is the third consecutive year that Hallmark features a gay or lesbian couple in their Valentine’s day ad. I’ve never seen any of those campaigns here, despite Hallmark being a retailer in the UK.

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Ok, for a moment I will stop listing the negatives, and actually praise a British brand who has defied the norms when it comes to gay male affection in marketing – Lloyds! It’s been noted that brands are failing to represent LGBT+ people in mainstream marketing campaigns, but Lloyds Bank have been praised for advancing LGBT diversity both internally and through its brand communications. Perhaps Lloyds being no.2 in Stonewall’s Top 100 LGBT Employers 2016 rankings influenced the fantastic campaign for ‘He Said Yes’, a same-sex proposal featuring two men.

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Here’s what Joey Hambidge (client account manager at Stonewall) had to say about the importance of LGBT representation in marketing:

While campaigns around Pride season are encouraging and to be applauded, consistent year-round communication with the LGBT community and featuring LGBT people within mainstream campaigns sends a strong message of inclusion and support.
Lloyds Bank springs to mind due to its recent mainstream commercial featuring a male same-sex couple’s proposal. Many young people entering the industry have grown up with an inclusive mentality. Their social circles can be mixed and varied so they are looking for companies that reflect these values. So even if someone may not identify as being LGBT themselves, finding an LGBT-inclusive employer is often important to them.

Lloyds Bank could have so easily used women in the ‘For Your Next Step’ ad, but I absolutely believe they did the right thing by using two men. Not only were they featured in the ad below, they have also been used on huge underground billboards and posters:

Lloyds Bank have actually featured same-sex couples in its advertising since 2010, and Marketing Week have written exactly why this is so important in an article here. I feel honoured to have worked with such an inclusive brand during my time at adam&eveDDB.

Unfortunately, Lloyds Bank are the exception in the UK. Whilst doing my research for this blog post I came across one of my favourite websites, Pink News, which had a news section on gay ads – hoorah! Lots of content to prove me wrong! Not quite…….. as wonderful as they all are, they’re all American. Check out the list here.
There has been cataclysmic shift in the portrayal of homosexuality in advertising, particularly when it comes to the likes of fashion brands such as Dolce & Gabbana producing homoerotic ads for years. This is an improvement to be noted – we’re hardly seeing any half naked, muscle bound and oiled up Adonis, instead we’re seeing gay men being portrayed in a mundane, family-orientated way, like the ads mentioned above. This still isn’t good enough – all of these campaigns (including Lynx’s ad featuring a dancing man in heels; Lynx’s “kiss the hottest girl… or the hottest guy” adTylenol’s #HowWeFamily campaign, to name a few) are American and Australian. They aren’t broadcasted on British TV, even if though sell the exact same products or services here.

Whilst we should always praise and encourage the portrayal of lesbians in advertising, as the sexualisation and fetishism of lesbians is still rife in the media, it’s difficult to ignore the blatant use of two women being more comfortable viewing than two men.
Match.com really had the chance to represent the LGBT+ community in a normal way like a lot of the ads above have done. Lots of dating apps and websites are now trying to convey a message of inclusivity – that their services are not just for straight people. As part of their campaign, Match.com decided to dedicate one spot to two girlfriends who supposedly found love through the website. I cannot help rolling my eyes and cringing every time I see the following ad on TV:

‘Messy Girl’ actually was no.3 on the top 10 complained about UK ads, because of kissing women (896 complaints). Despite the ridiculous amount of homophobic complaints, I do not respect Match.com for this campaign, and I cannot support their efforts. I find the entire narrative unnecessary – the “messy” story did not need to include lesbians undressing (with lacy lingerie on underneath… come on, really?!) where all the other spots for the same campaign are not sexualised, and instead portray the innocent, adorable and quirky aspects of dating and falling in love.
The entire ad screams male gaze, and Match have clearly spent no time researching into what it means to the LGBT community to be represented in advertising. ‘Messy Girl’? more like Messy Idea! Who wrote this sh*t?

Sainsbury’s 2016 Christmas ad saw an enormous amount of praise not just from creatives surrounding the concept and execution, but also from families in the UK – particularly same sex parents who were thrilled to see female same-sex parents along-side mixed-race families and a single dad:

Whilst successfully reflecting modern British families, I can’t help believing that two women were favoured over two men. Even though they are animated characters, lesbian women are predominantly more accepted over gay men because society still does not feel comfortable with the idea of gay male sex. You might be thinking “calm down, how on earth did you go from innocent animated characters to gay sex?” well, that’s how homophobes’ minds work – they believe the representation of same-sex parenting is damaging and has a gay-agenda. So, ASA (or whatever standards authority board) receive complaints, ads get taken down, and clients/agencies steer clear of pro-LGBT concepts for fear of offending. I can’t tell you why people think this way, but I can tell you it is still a very big and very ridiculous problem. It’s particularly concerning that very few UK brands choose to represent male couples, particularly affectionate or intimate gay couples.
I think the current discrimination epidemic seen during the US election speaks volumes in terms of how far we have to go regarding LGBT rights. From what I have seen on social media, people have (up until the election) remained naive and unaware of how discriminatory certain groups of people can be, and how manipulative they can be when working in numbers. A lot of people in this world genuinely believe gay sex is demonic, and that those showing it on TV are pushing an ‘agenda’ to turn their kids gay. These same people compare gay men (never lesbians) to pedophiles. If it wasn’t so tragic, I’d laugh.

I want to end this blog post on a positive note – the note being Thomas Cook – a UK company who have subtly flown the flag for the LGBT community in this lovely ad called ‘You Want We Do’:

Again, no hidden messages; no hashtags; no trends; no exploitation, just a bunch of different people all wanting a great holiday with the ones they love.
Jamie Queen, marketing director for Thomas Cook Group told Marketing Week:

I think marketers can always do more to represent the needs of the consumer and that’s what we’ve tried to do with the gay kiss. It comes down to the needs of our customers and addressing a modern population.

Aside from the wonderful representation of gay partners (header image) and gay dads (below), the ad itself is actually wonderfully art directed and shot.

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To conclude, what I’d like to say to creatives is, don’t be like Match.com – be like Thomas Cook – be revolutionary, be bold, be authentic. Feature gay love, feature men playing tonsil tennis, and do it with conviction. Don’t worry about the complaints, the Bible bashers and the ratings. You are the voice, and we are living in a time where your compassionate creativity is needed more than ever.

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Instagram vs. Snapchat vs. Facebook

Back in late 2016 Facebook launched augmented reality selfie masks for Live video – much like the already very popular Snapchat filters. Facebook acquired MSQRD in March 2016, and briefly tested using a similar technology with Olympic-themed masks for traditional photos and videos (only in Canada and Brazil).
I’ve never actually gone Live on Facebook, so I can’t say I’ve tried this feature myself, but I am a huge Snapchat user, and a big fan of the filters. Facebook is now apparently communicating with Hollywood studios to use the animated masks to promote big-budget movies on Facebook. As mentioned above, Facebook already allows filters over the Live videos, but unlike Snapchat brands have not been allowed to feature their own filters.

facebook-live-masks

Snapchat popularised augmented reality in mobile messaging back in the day – they are the OGs of mask filters – and have had a tone of brands using their service to promote their brand or campaign. The difference between Snapchat and Facebook (and Instagram) is that Facebook and Instagram reach far bigger audiences, whereas Snapchat is seen as a platform for friends.
This isn’t the only feature Facebook has “stolen” from Snapchat – Facebook previously put a Stories section on Instagram, and are currently testing a similar section in its Facebook app. Facebook’s Stories include augmented reality special effects, but that test is currently only limited to Ireland.

Its been stated that marketers and brands prefer the stories feature on Instagram, because Snapchat doesn’t embrace brands the way Instagram does. Instagram makes it easy to follow brands and like their posts – there’s no ‘like’ features on Snapchat, and it’s harder to follow accounts because users have to know exact names to find them (something I find very annoying…). Instagram’s search UI is far superior, in my opinion.
Dan Grossman, vice president of platform partnerships at VaynerMedia summed up the difference pretty well:

Instagram is a follower platform where Snapchat is more of a best friend platform. Snapchat hasn’t encouraged brands to build up huge followings.

As a Snapchat fan, when Instagram first rolled out the Stories feature, I was very hesitant. Now, I actually forget to use Snapchat and usually head for Instagram Stories to post my daily activities. The amount of money Facebook are putting into these new app features are, in my opinion, going to destroy Snapchat. Why would I use 2 platforms that do the same thing, when I can just use one? It’s likely that Facebook and Instagram will link their publishing of stories at some point.

(P.S. that is not me in the header image)
(P.P.S I’ve never written “Facebook” so many times in my life)

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Samsung Galaxy: Crazy

January is the month for fitness. “New year, new me” and all that crap, so agencies are jumping on the exercise bandwagon. Samsung’s advert by Weiden + Kennedy (Portland) communicates the idea that “Samsung’s Galaxy S7 + Gear Fit2 can help you make sense of it all by organising your workouts and helping you track your progress”.
Funnily enough, yesterday I blogged about Apple’s Nike+ Apple Watch which actually had a similar vibe – weird things relating to exercise. However, W+K’s concept is slightly more relatable and less extreme, being that we do weird things when we workout. Guilty!

The campaign is followed by 2 more ads, which I don’t think are as funny, but are reaching out to the Average Joes trying to lose a few pounds. Great campaign!

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Creme Egg: Hunting Season

Creme Egg is back in season with a funny ad by Elvis Communications – a concept miles better than last year’s weird ‘have a fling with a Creme Egg’ campaign, by the same agency.
Creme Egg super fan ‘Gregg’ (I wish he was a real super fan – that would’ve been great) announces the three-month Creme Egg Hunting Season, ending in Easter Sunday.

I look forward to the rest of the ads for this campaign.

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