Tag Archives: marketing

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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Volkswagen: Laughing Horses

I’ve discovered a gem – an ad for VW’s ‘Park Assist’ feature from their Tiguan model campaign (2016). The advert is by Grabarz & Partner (Hamburg), and proves that there’s no excuse for boring car ads!

There’s an interesting post which mentions how the ad went viral after testing it before release:

The video proved to be one of the best automotive videos ever tested, scoring significantly above average on key criteria like enjoyment, brand fit and brand appeal. As a result, Volkswagen released the video on Youtube.de where it was watched over 2 million times and uploaded by others. The video’s success prompted Volkswagen to use it on TV, and at last count the video had received over 36 million views across all platforms.

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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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Meet Julia: Sesame Street’s First Autistic Character

Sesame Street is incredibly nostalgic for me – I used to watch it every lunch time with my mother whilst eating shepherds pie after a morning at pre-school. Random. Anyway, Sesame Street is a truly iconic American show that seems as immortal and recognisable as The Simpsons. The difference between this and other kids shows is that Sesame Street was created (in 1969) as an experiment with the intention of finding out whether television could be used to educate young children. We now know how influential both TV shows and adverts can be on children. Since, they’ve written story lines ranging from basic learning skills to race issues and even coping with death.
On April 10th, “Sesame Street” aired the special episode “Meet Julia” on HBO to introduce viewers to their newest character. Julia was created as part of the ‘Sesame Workshop’ (the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street), alongside their autism initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’For years, Sesame Street received requests from parents to feature storylines surrounding autism, so Stacey Gordon (plays ‘Julia’, below) and Christine Ferraro (the writer of the “Meet Julia” episode) who both have close family relationships helped bring this character to life. Stacey was uniquely placed to take on the job as her son has autism: “Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviours through something they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.”

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A common concern amongst parents of autistic children is how their peers will understand, communicate with them and treat them. As autism has such a broad spectrum, the team wanted to ensure that Julia was represented based on extensive research into common traits of kids with learning difficulties.

Bringing Julia to life as a Sesame Street Muppet is the centrepiece of all of our new materials to support families of children with autism. The response from the autism community to See Amazing in all Children has been extraordinary, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, as part of our mission of helping all children grow smarter, stronger, and kinder – Sherrie Westin, EVP of Global Impact and Philanthropy, Sesame Workshop

Although the team were cautious regarding the representation of such a broad learning difficulty in just one character, writer Christine wants Julia to exist as herself, rather than be known as “the autistic one”. Aside from this, the main aim is to teach viewers about inclusion, understanding and patience. I don’t know if it’s the childhood personal tie I have with Sesame Street, but watching the intro video above actually made me quite emotional – the way in which Julia is represented is so endearing and gentle, with Big Bird patiently trying to understand all the facts about her learning difficulty. Scenes include Julia meeting new people, the relation between autism and eye contact, common physical reactions like “flapping”, becoming overwhelmed when she hears sirens and the heartwarming scene where they all join in on Julia’s version of ‘tag’.

The most important part of this well-written storyline is how they have steered away from Julia’s differences being the source of confusion or fear, and instead created the narrative to focus on the rest of the muppets enjoying their relationships and having fun. Whilst parts of Julia’s behaviour were clearly explained to Big Bird and the viewers, the main focus was on integrating Julia into the group, like all the other muppets. My heart has melted!
It just goes to show that whilst TV can be a very scary place for easily influenced children, creatives and marketers can use their platform to educate in a way that has never been done before.

 

P.S. take a look at the comments on the YouTube video – lots of users have praised the creation of Julia as something they wish they could have seen on TV as children.
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Lysol: Protect Like a Mother

Mother’s Day in the US is imminent, so ad agency McCann (New York) and cleaning products company Lysol teamed up for the campaign “What It Takes To Protect”. Lysol is probably the US equivalent to the UK’s cleaning brand ‘Dettol’, and instead of marketing their anti-bacterial products like most competitors do, globally, they adopted a more emotional and sensitive take on protecting against germs.
The adorable narrative celebrates the protective strength of parents, with Lysol there to help them, focusing on the universal human instinct to keep your loved ones safe. Using metaphors for protection against germs, we see animal mothers protecting their human children against rain, bullies and accidents.

The campaign expands beyond TV and digital, as Lysol will host an experience in Brooklyn Bridge Park called “Protect like a mother: an exhibit presented by Lysol” over the US Mothers Day weekend (14th May). It aims to highlight the most fierce protectors in the animal kingdom: mothers, and will include large scale animal installations that children can interact with.

I think it’s a fantastic concept! So much more effective and memorable than the cringey cleaning ads we’re used to.

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I’m sorry, I fell for it too: Heineken fooled me. I now regret writing the “Pepsi, this is how it’s done” post

Last week I blogged about Heineken’s new ad ‘Worlds Apart’Pepsi, this is how it’s done. Heineken: Worlds Apart | #OpenYourWorld. At the time, I thought I was giving a fairly neutral opinion whilst swaying towards positive connotations towards the ad – I even suggested, like many others, that it was the antidote to Pepsi’s car-crash ad.
I want to sincerely apologise for my ignorance. As someone who is so outspoken against the immoral bullsh*t we all have to endure in this post-Trump hellhole, I have failed both you and me. In hindsight, and after reading more articles, I realised that I had fallen for the worst kind of marketing tactic. I’m embarrassed that someone who both works in advertising and is a human rights activist was able to have the wool pulled over my eyes – ethical consumption simply cannot exist in a marketed, profit-based environment no matter how many frills are added.

Aside from the blatant social change push as a tactic to sell beer, just like the Pepsi advert it is a reductive narrative that absolutely does not represent the way in which opposing opinions are resolved in real life. Furthermore, the narrative suggests that the opinions of the couples are on the same level, whereas misogyny, transphobia and climate change denial are entirely of a regressive ideology. I now see that these opinions placed alongside a progressive and moral ideology totally diminish the science and facts behind these important views. What our society struggles to understand is that there is a difference between having an opinion and believing something that is entirely morally wrong – denying climate change is wrong because climate change is real. What damages our society is the notion that social problems can be resolved if only people tolerate their oppression just a bit longer. That ideology is fundamentally everything I am against and the catalyst to my passionate drive for equality, yet I foolishly supported this tragic advert.

This ad doesn’t exist to solve the world’s problems, but to make you buy a product by causing you to associate whatever warm fuzzies it elicits in you with its particular brand of carbonated yeast water. Have you learned nothing from Mad Men? That this ad was deemed “good” by most people just means it does a better job than other ads of hiding that fact. – The Guardian

I also questioned my naivety surrounding the morality of Heineken regarding what they have done as a brand to support the social issues focused on in ‘Worlds Apart’ – do they support LGBT charities, climate change research or womens’ rights organisations? As someone who dedicates a lot of time deciding whether or not to spend my hard earned money on certain brands (particularly regarding animal cruelty and brands who fund that in China), I am disappointed in myself for not recognising that “Heineken is an amoral entity that treats human beings as expendable assets who exist purely to have their labor power exploited for the purposes of enriching its shareholders” (The Guardian). If I discovered that politically and socially, Heineken invested in, say, supporting the trans* community, I wouldn’t write this article. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case, and thes people who feature as progressive and outspoken are merely used as puppets.

What gets me more than anything, and what makes me feel ashamed for believing this sh*t is the fact that the people being attacked did not retaliate. At no point did those offended confront the ignorant person, despite claiming to be outspoken and sure of their moral place in this world. Whenever I feel offended or concerned about someone’s moral compass, I do not hesitate – I refuse to tolerate their ignorance – I cannot validate a point of view that ignores fact.
I cannot believe for a moment that the Black woman wearing a t-shirt saying “Smash the Patriarchy” would sit in silence whilst listening to a white, cis man project his degenerative views. Finding common-ground is of course not out of the question, but to insinuate that bigotry can be laughed off with a beer and a splash of tolerance sums up exactly what is wrong with humanity. The irony here is that Heineken used social problems that has largely eschewed capitalism to structure an advert.

Originally, I admittedly found it bizarre and almost insulting that the denial of a scientific fact was placed amongst transphobia and sexism. Now, I find it even more infuriating that this advert essentially promotes misandry as just a point of view that can be ignored. Being offended by feminism and trans* people is impossible – what is the alternative opinion to being transgender? There isn’t one. Heineken have essentially given a bigot a platform to say “hey, I don’t like this but I’ll use the correct pronouns because you don’t have a deep voice and I can’t see your five o’clock shadow, so you’re pretty passable, and that makes me feel more comfortable”.
The facts are here: climate change is real, women are paid less and trans* murders are an epidemic. There is no opinion here. There is no opposing view.

Yes, the people with the regressive ideas are humans, and they should be treated as such. They should not, however, be given an equal platform upon which to spew their ignorance. The false equivalency itself is whitewashing. (Caitlin Bladt)

If you don’t respect Nazis, you shouldn’t respect people who fundamentally believe someone’s identity and personhood is wrong. They are the same ideologies, but for some reason we seem to brush that under the carpet. And a beer certainly will not change that.

Once more, I’m sorry, and I do not support the Heineken advert.

P.S. Please also note that all the “right wing” opinions are from white, cis men. Just saying.
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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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