Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Skater brands denounce gay-hating fans #toplovesall

A couple of young men from Western Quebec have drawn the ire of the social media shame machine for their violently anti-gay shirts and statements.

One of them (I won't repeat their names here) was photographed wearing a shirt with the name of his gamer group, along with the words "If you are gay, don't approch [sic] me I'll kill you," to a popular Halloween event in Ottawa. Once identified, the man and a friend spoke to media defending their group's message, even though it might be considered hate speech in Canada.

These guys don't deserve any more infamy than they're already getting, however local skater store Top Of The World's reaction is interesting from a branding point of view.

Recognizing RVCA and other subculture brands on the offenders, Top Of The World posted the above captioned picture with the words, "I'm sure you've seen these fellas in the news or on social media. If not check it out. We wanted to make ourselves clear when it comes to this kind of garbage. #ottawa #toplovesall"

In recent years, many brands have struggled with the polarizing issue of LGBT equality, such as in the pasta wars of 2013. But with gay rights in the mainstream consciousness, in more progressive parts of the world brands have more to gain (and less to lose) by being LGBT allies than in courting homophobic customers. 

Top Of The World and RVCA picked the smart side in this one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mexican soft drink places undocumented migrants in America's great immigration story

In The Journey, Mexican soft drink brand Jarritos shows a group of Latin Americans walking determinedly through the desert, then follows it with a grand montage of how immigrants have made the United States what it is today.

I doubt anyone watching, whatever their views on immigration, would miss the implied message. The group on foot are making an undocumented crossing into the USA, but once there they will work hard and contribute the way all other groups of "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" have done.

It's a bold statement, in the face of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump's "Bad Hombres" rhetoric and armed, vigilante citizen "border patrols."

Latino Rebels asks, "Are you proud big brands are celebrating the immigrant legacy or is it just commercial exploitation to sell more soda?"

I'd say that it's doing both. Jarritos has a strong presence in the USA, especially among Latino communities. The iconic bottles make a cameo appearance around the 45 second mark:

Yes, it's here to sell. But I think the politics are pretty clear as well. Jarritos has made supporting Mexican immigrants, and appealing to other recent immigrant groups, an essential part of its brand DNA. And by taking sides, it will probably deepen its cultural connection with existing customers.

Watch the video here, in English and Spanish:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This eel-farming video would make a (not-so-) great PETA ad

According to The Irish Times, this video was made to promote the Japanese city of Shibushi, to promote its local eel farmers.
The male narrator... describes how he had vowed to do all he could to nurture her. “I fed her delicious food until she was full, and allowed her to get plenty of sleep,” he says.
Seconds later viewers are treated to a close-up of eel being cooked on a barbecue grill. “We take great care when farming our eels,” says the narrator.
Indeed! The video has since been withdrawn by authorities, but not before it caused an uproar online.

Well-founded accusations of sexism aside, I find it ironic. The concept of anthropomorphizing animals we eat is a common tactic used by PETA:

Either way, the image of women as pieces of meat is pretty unpalatable.

Thanks to KP for the tip!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Wrangler tells women they're #MoreThanABum while focussing on their bums

Wrangler Europe's attempt to empower women ended in powerful PR failure.

The brand launched the campaign with the claim that they wanted to "change the conversation to what women DO and not just how they look." Partnering with New Zealand pop artist Kimbra, they released a video with lyrics like:

She's changing the conversationWith a whole new exaltation Say - I'll be who I be Won't let the world tell me no differently Ain’t about what's behind me
And it has imagery like:

The video eventually shares the whole woman, but the focus on bums tends to undermine the whole point of the attempt at socially-responsible advertising.

Source: The Independent

Friday, September 9, 2016

#Maltesers tries mixing disability with humour, nails it

How interesting is this? Maltesers, a British candy brand, has taken the bold step of taking a humorous look at the lifestyles of people with disabilities in a new campaign for the Paralympics.

Instead of dewy-eyed homages to bravery and overcoming obstacles, these ads portray people with disabilities talking to their friends about real-life challenges like awkward sexual situations:

Another talks about a hearing aid being eaten and shat out by a partner's goofy dog:

Yet another is about a wedding dance floor disaster:

They're funny (the first one especially), respectful, and wonderfully human. They don't pretend the disabilities don't exist; they show instead that they are essential parts of the lives and identities of the people who live with them.

The other thing I like about these is that they're still ads. No product benefits (like taste) are mentioned, but the candies still play a big support role in these cute little vignettes.

And they're paying off! According to campaign, Britain's Channel 4 offered a million Pounds worth of free TV media during the Paralympics to the advertisers with "the best creative idea with diversity at the heart of a campaign."

Maltesers (a Mars brand) and its ad agency, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, were selected from a shortlist that included Amazon (Lucky Generals); Barclays (Bartle Bogle Hegarty London); Dove (Ogilvy & Mather); H&M (Adam & Eve/DDB); Lloyds Bank (Adam & Eve/DDB); Lynx (TMW Unlimited); and Purdey’s (Iris Worldwide).

My only criticism is of the third one, "Dance Floor," which seems a little forced at the end. But kudos to a brand and agency for trying something new with the right mix of bravery and sensitivity.