It’s a real Brahma mate

There’s a theory emerging that we’re beginning to see a backlash against the tech that’s coming to dominate our lives.  There are a few ads floating around that poke fun at our obsession with gadgets or with streaming.  Not sure I agree, after all, any kind of excessive behaviour is up for a bit of debunking, and there’s plenty of tech-driven madness to pick from.  However, I do like this ad for Ozzie beer brand Brahma.

I believe the expression “a real Brahma” means something like “The Daddy” or “The dog’s b**ll**cks”. Not entirely inappropriate.

Brilliant or complete coincidence?

This is the new advertisement for the VW hybrid (yes, well done, but that’s something Toyota have been doing for twenty years, so let’s not get over-excited about the news value here).

We all love a good villain, but the question is this: are VW acknowledging that, after the emissions scandal, they are (or were) Public Enemy no.1 and playing a delightfully mischievous game around that?  Or is it just a coincidence?  I like to think it’s a wonderful piece of self-deprecation.  And if that’s the case, I’ll forgive them for being so close to the idea Jaguar used recently.

Brands with purpose; the story do far

‘Brands with purpose’ were all the rage for about twenty minutes or so.  Unilever said it was the right thing to do.  So obviously it was the right thing to do.

Then came Pepsigate.  An overzealous attempt to appropriate a world of virtuous resistance against all the evil in the world, while simultaneously calling for world peace, racial harmony and please can we all just start being nice to each other again.  Remember the anti-Vietnam war poster with the girl putting the flower in the barrel of the soldier’s gun?  Except Pepsi misjudged the popular mood and was ridiculed.

My own view is that, while Pepsi’s attempt to tap into this ‘purpose’ was pretty woeful, it wasn’t so much worse than a lot of other work from other brands who just about got away with it.  Pepsi didn’t have any credits in the bank here (as opposed to Coke for example who do) so once social media turned against them, the hole just got deeper and deeper.  Before they knew it, they were a laughing stock and had to withdraw the advertisement in question.  This in turn made them headline news and so doubly a laughing stock.

Harsh but fair.

This debacle has spawned a host of ‘told you so’ coverage.  Most of it is simply accountable to people wanting to score points by dancing on Pepsi’s grave (who wouldn’t?)  I’ve seen lots of other corporate pap which is equally risible, but escaped with barely a word of censure (special mention here for Hewlett Packard’s corporate video).

But I did quite enjoy this:

Moving on, in the wake of Pepsigate, brands should be getting very wary of doing the vision thing.  This idea for Heineken was, presumably, too far advanced to pull out.  In a worlds where Pepsi is ridiculed, this shouldn’t work either.  But it does.  Why?

Two reasons:

  1. Heineken is a brand we like.  It has a history of entertaining us and being witty.  It’s not explicitly a crusading brand (like say, Dove whose influence is very evident here) but it’s well-meaning enough to be credible.
  2. The craft.  It’s very nicely done.

That’s my opinion today.  If it gets lambasted and withdrawn tomorrow, I will of course disown all of this and claim I was being ironic.

And you fell for it right?

Food Dancing

This feels like an important new development in the world of advertising.  After a billion years settled at the home of all things grown up and civilised – AMV – Sainsbury recently moved its advertising to the home of all things yoof -Wieden & Kennedy.

The result is ‘Food Dancing’.  On first viewing, it feels a bit like a student’s speculative reel for his first proper advertising job interview.  One or two visual cliches have sneaked in when no-one was looking.  Overall though, it does just what the nice but mundane supermarket needed – it gives it an injection of fun energy.  On reflection, I think I’m a fan.

 

All swap clothes for Christmas

Christmas is coming and that means one thing.  Lots of new retail advertising.  Here’s the newest entrant – it’s House of Fraser, brought to you by an agency I much admire – 18 Feet and Rising:

I have to admit I rather like it.  But here’s my misgiving.  It’s a Marks & Spencer ad.  Everything about it screams M&S except the logo.  Which is a bit tricky.

So imagine my surprise when I saw the new M&S Christmas commercial:

It’s also quite nice (though I’m not overwhelmed).  Except for one thing.  Like many advertisers, the client appears to have gone to their agency and said: “Please give me a John Lewis ad”.  And unlike most agencies, they have done exactly that.

So House of Fraser is now morphing into M&S who are, for their part, impersonating John Lewis.

So it’s like a weird version of retail clothes swapping.  Or one of those bizarre questions that crop up in philosophy tutorials about how much of your brain you can merge into another entity before you become them or they become you.

Maybe that’s what they mean by Shwopping.

 

 

This Girl Can

One of advertising’s favourite themes of the last couple of years has been female empowerment.  The campaigns for Sport England ‘This Girl Can’ and P&G’s Always ‘Like a Girl’ were much-lauded and they hoovered up a load of awards.  The awards weren’t just for creativity.  There were also PR awards and both campaigns won Gold at the Account Planning Group awards for creative strategy.

I particularly like the Sport England campaign.  It’s the kind of long-term thinking which characterised the best Central Office of Intelligence (COI) campaigns, before its sad destruction by the politicians.

I’m struck by the irony – that is the actual irony rather than in the Alanis Morissette sense – that the industry was subsequently plunged into an intense bout of flagellation over whether women were unfairly treated in the industry.  This culminated in all that unpleasantness with Gustavo Martinez at JWT and Kevin Roberts at Publicis Groupe.

As far as the advertising is concerned, I find it easier to be impressed by the Indian Nike campaign below, which seems to have a more direct relationship with achieving a tangible marketing goal.  In this case, selling sports kit to athletic women.

And frankly it was about time Nike did some really good advertising again.

The Tale of Tom

I fear I may have to revise my preconceptions of fashion retail marketing.  Many years ago I worked briefly for one of Burberry’s agencies and I confess I became rather sceptical.  The brand’s presentation seemed a bit one-dimensional, and a bit too much like every other high-end fashion brand.  So I was interested to see their new Christmas film.  The title makes it sound like something written by Beatrix Potter, but I have to say I rather like it.