Hits in brief
An honourable mention has to go to Heinz’s plantable labels. Great piece of work. And you’ll have seen it doing the rounds, I have little doubt. This week Squid Game hit the number one spot on Netflix thanks to TikTokers re-enacting scenes and games from the K Horror show. Do look it up, it’s a textbook piece of socially driven hype and, whether it’s organic or has been created, it’s one of those “signs of the times” moments that we can all learn a lot from.
Elsewhere, William Shatner is being taken to space by Jeff Bezos – tech billionaires just do stunts bigger, don’t they? Merlin suspended a Bond lookalike from the London Eye (there’s a contrast in scale against sending Star Trek’s lead actor stratospheric). And the Savage X Fenty show overturned the way that fashion shows happen – the contrast to Victoria’s Secret was stark, if only in the casting.
But meantime, here are my hits, one I’m on the fence about and a miss.
Changing Faces campaign
Sometimes I wonder whether we really think about the words that we use as PRs in the copy we write. To balance an argument, to make a point, to put force behind a claim or call to action.
Which is why I was struck by a campaign by the charity Changing Faces branding the most recent Bond villain’s facial differences “lazy”.
This struck me as, first of all, an important campaign; but also one that has raised an issue at just the right moment – using a massive pop culture moment to do so. Being part of the conversation and offering a perspective that many will have overlooked.
However, it wasn’t just the campaign that struck me, it was the elegance of these words from ambassador and actor Robert Rhodes: “We have all had a tough year, so go to the cinema and enjoy the film – buy some popcorn and really treat yourself. But when you go in, go in and be aware. Ask yourself why this character has facial scarring? And think about the impact this film could have on someone who looks different.”
What a wonderfully balanced and splendidly thought-provoking choice of words and message. In a world of campaigns that call for bans, boycotts and cancellations, the words here call for thought. And campaigns that make you think are in all too short supply.
Did you know that in Ian Fleming's Bond novels, 007 is depicted with a scar on his cheek?— Changing Faces (@FaceEquality) September 30, 2021
We'd love an actor with a visible difference to play a positive character in the next film.
We are the hero, the love interest, the lead - and not just your villain. #IAmNotYourVillain pic.twitter.com/7Qd3AFk8gs
Do Ryan Reynolds ads work?
Speaking of campaigns that either do or don’t invite the admiration of few outside our own industry, here’s a campaign that is designed for adland that has gone well beyond.
Now that Ryan Reynold’s creative agency has been acquired by ad platform Mountain (or MNTN, because who needs vowels?) and he has become its CCO, he’s started making house ads aimed at marketers.
This one (in which he finds that his face in a brand campaign actually lowers effectiveness) is a brilliant way to show off the MNTN platform and its optimisation tools in a way that is at once amusing and compelling.
Also, it’s Ryan Reynolds. Who doesn’t want a bit of Ryan Reynolds on a Friday morning, eh?
Hit or Miss? You decide
Caravan on roof
I genuinely can’t decide whether this is a hit or a miss, I can’t lie. On the one hand, it’s clearly a very expensive stunt that, so far, has not delivered quite the coverage that might have been hoped for. On the other hand, it’s so wonderfully weird that I can’t help but love it.
In summary: a caravan has been craned onto the roof of One New Change in London for a party.
There you go. That’s the story.
It got a good show in the Standard. I, for one, cannot wait to see the line-up of celebrity talent that will be wheeled out for a party in a caravan on the roof of an office block. What a bash that will be.
But it’s so easy for people to be snobby about these things.
For every creative director who takes to Twitter to deride someone floating something down the Thames, there are tens of thousands of members of the public who are saying: “Did you see that thing they floated down the Thames, that was cool (or sick or dope or whatever the young people say these days), wasn’t it?”.
And that’s the point, really. We don’t do this stuff to delight our industry peers, we do it to reach real people who, it appears, love a thing on a river. Or a rooftop, as is the case here.
Interested to see how we made our Unicorn Vigo caravan fly? Check out this bird's-eye view of our Bailey landing on the One New Change shopping centre. #caravaninthesky #gobailey pic.twitter.com/nS4vObXllH— Bailey of Bristol (@BaileyofBristol) September 27, 2021
Cadbury Caramilk, 'Just ask an Aussie'
Speaking of talking to your own industry and not being heard much beyond, if there’s anything that should annoy any PR anywhere, it’s when an ad agency says: “We’ve had a really PR-able idea.”
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they really have had a PR-able idea. And in such situations we should recognise that and make it happen. But all too often the PR-able idea is anything but.
This happens in general because it’s an idea that is so inward-looking and so of a brand’s often narrow world that it just isn’t relevant to anyone outside it. But, because so much advertising work is rooted in brand onions and not in cultural relevance, people fail to notice that no one outside the brainstorm room will give a shit.
It is for this reason, I can only assume, that Cadbury glued some Australians onto some billboards for a day in a number of UK cities to mark the launch of the Caramilk. Said Antipodeans were paid to harangue passers-by and explain their undying love for the product (which is, as you may have guessed, big Down Under).
If the aim of this particular piece of activity was to absolutely nail the marketing trades with pieces proclaiming how witty and clever the creative agency was that came up with it, then it nailed the objective. If, as I suspect, it was to get some awareness for the brand with people who might buy it, then it was something of a flop. And in this lies a lesson for us all – and a lesson it seems we need to impress upon our above-the-line peers and collaborators time and again.