'Basing creativity on sex puns is not hard, is it?' Creative Hits & Misses of the Week

Zac Schwarz, creative director at campaigning agency Glimpse, casts his critical eye over this week's creative offerings.

Wow another roller coaster of a week – equal parts horror and hope. But I’m feeling positive as the vaccine rolls out, and last week Biden and Harris began to get the US back on track. My choices this week are therefore all about hope – in global politics, in culture and for our summer.


Berniesanders.com, 'Chairman’ Sanders sweatshirt

Last week’s presidential inauguration brought hope and joy to billions of people, and their feeds, with one particular meme breaking the internet. Bernie Sanders and his chair and mitts combo were everywhere, but what was so impressive was the speed and effectiveness with which Team Sanders owned it.

Within two days of the inauguration, berniesanders.com was selling ‘Chairperson Sanders’ sweatshirts for $45, with all proceeds going to charity. They sold out within minutes, had raised $1.8m as of Thursday, and got Bernie talked about on every outlet from Vogue to CNN – not just for being an internet meme, but also for the good work he does. It highlights the benefits of moving fast and, more importantly, finding ways for your supporters/community to feel part of something – in this case, commemorating the historic inauguration with something fun and quite cool.

100% Pure New Zealand, 'Travelling Under the Social Influence'

I love New Zealand, from its people's sense of humour to the landscapes of their islands to their choice of leader. A campaign launched this week by Tourism New Zealand is begging for replication here. It aims to encourage staycationers to take photos a bit different to your usual ‘gram shots. The campaign taps into a social truth – we all resent and mock those stylised tourist shots – in a playful and inclusive way and simultaneously manages to promote travel and tourism. This idea beautifully ties into the wider tourism campaign and encourages viewers (and future travellers) to share their new experiences for the chance to win prizes at #DoSomethingNewNZ. As this country hopefully comes out of lockdown later in the year, I hope my feeds will be filled with unexpected and original shots of the UK.

WWE NXT UK, Pretty Deadly talks to Ru Paul Drag Race UK’s Cheryl Hole

I just loved this when I saw it pop up on my feed. The bringing together of two ‘unexpected’ partners is a tried and tested comms technique; it can benefit both parties equally, bringing in new audiences (and customers) and broadening a brand’s appeal. It felt authentic and fun – I’d love to know how much comms management and negotiation it required, but it looked effortless. On a personal note, I found it funny as both my wife and I grew up watching WWE religiously and now have the same addiction to Drag Race. Seeing Cheryl Hole’s endorsement has definitely piqued our interest in WWE again.


Pornhub, 'Sextainable'

I only know about this because a friend told me! But seriously… on the face of it, it’s great when any major platform helps promote a more sustainable life. But really? Is this what Pornhub cares about? I’m calling this a creative miss because, a) using sexual innuendo and attaching it to any other subject is too easy, and b) it masks a much greater threat posed by this kind of work from Pornhub. All these campaigns are designed to normalise Pornhub and drive brand recognition for hardcore pornography in mainstream culture.

If Pornhub was really committed to helping society, it should help young people feel good about themselves and their sex lives. Or at least stick to a global issue and really drive change. Pornhub uses the great problems the planet faces as marketing gimmicks. It uses issues like plastics, whales and bees purely to drive media coverage, respectability and acceptability. Plus, basing all your campaign creativity on sex puns and innuendo is not hard, is it? It’s super easy to get stuck into a creative session and come out with a plan that can drive deep penetration of your target audience. I’m no prude, but this gets a big fat no from me.

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