Gender identity, female empowerment, and body positivity are all hot topics in society today. And when society experiences a shift, so does the advertising we create and consume. While some argue that brands have no business influencing or even engaging in societal conversations, others acknowledge that the strength of their brand gives them a platform upon which to convey some very important messages.
Among those who believe advertisers should stick to what they know is Kara Brown, author of the Jezebel article, “Heineken’s New ‘Woke’ Ad Might Be As Bad As Pepsi’s”. Second only to her disturbing use of the work ‘woke’ is Brown’s pathetic assertion that Heineken had no business meddling in societal issues.
Heineken has released an ad that’s being described as a less stupid version of what Pepsi was trying to do with their Kendall Jenner’s “the resistance will the commercialized” campaign. Unfortunately—and try not to not to be too shocked here—it is still true that a company whose only goal is to sell beverages may not be best equipped to push social change. – Jezebel
Among those joining Heineken in using their brand voices for good is Always, Aerie, Toms, Patagonia, and many more. From integrating boys’ and girls’ clothing sections at Target to introducing a gender neutral Easy Bake Oven, brands are finally beginning to embrace the strength of their brand voice and messaging. And Dove’s most recent announcement doesn’t disappoint.
Dove has released a limited-edition run of its Body Wash bottles in some not-so-ordinary packaging. In a range of various shapes and sizes, the unique bottles celebrate body diversity and communicate the brand’s overarching message of “Real Beauty”.
Each June, 11,000 attendees from 90 countries gather in the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France to network, attend seminars, and discuss changes in marketing and advertising. A select few attend with the hopes of winning the most prestigious award in communications and advertising: a gold Cannes Lion. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is an annual event and awards show surrounding the promotion and evolution of creativity in communications. Last year, to promote the 2016 Cannes Lions, the festival launched “Thank You Creativity,” an online platform of seminars, winning work, and creative kindling. As explained on the site, “not everyone can come to the Festival, and only a few will win a Lion, but the inspirational moments that happen in Cannes can and should be shared.”
The site features a blog called “Daily Creativity” where various professionals from advertising, marketing, communications, film, and other creative industries are invited to share their creativity hacks. Each entry depicts a catchy title summing up the activity, the name of the individual who shared it, and the company they work for or represent. Usually the individual and the company are from well-known, well-respected firms and agencies, which contributes to the credibility and prestige of the blog. In addition, highlighting and endorsing the names of industry professionals and the top agencies they represent helps build strong relationships for the festival. When you click on the link, you’re taken to a page with a short and sweet creative exercise shared straight from the back war rooms of revered agencies. (War rooms are where creatives and strategists map out campaigns and ideas on the walls). When TBWA\Media Arts Lab shares a strategy, it could have been the one Lee Clow used to develop his “Think Different” campaign for Apple, or the one from Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners might have originally come from Rich Silverstein who used it to think of “Got Milk?”.
The primary target audience for this blog is creatives and strategists in the advertising industry, so this is anyone that might need brainstorming exercises to spark an idea for a campaign for a client. What I *loved* (key word) about this blog is that creativity can be used by anyone. I’m a firm believer that there is no strict divide between a creative department and any other department. They’re not the only ones who get to be creative. When I ask students what position they’re interested in at an ad agency, many say that they want to do something creative, so they suppose they’d work in the creative department as a copywriter or an art director, which was the way things worked 40 years ago. I tell them that no matter what department you work in, you have to be creative. If you work in account management, you’ll never get anywhere unless you’re a creative account manager. If you work in print production, you need creative ways to display the message rather than just some direct mail postcard that goes straight into the recycling. Media is the most important of all of them because you better have creative solutions or you’ll never break through the clutter and catch the attention of your target audience. These exercises are truly universal in which positions and industries they can be useful for. One key factor in this blog is that it doesn’t ask for anything in return. By providing value to their audience, Cannes Lions encourages connection and innovation, which fuels the advertising industry, generating better work to be judged at Cannes, which benefits the event. They also make it very easy to share these tips and tricks within your network, and they have a strong online presence.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered that this site and the wonderful blog it gave birth to no longer exist.
Unfortunately, all traces of the site and the blog are gone except for the one lasting cover photo on the official Twitter page for Cannes Lions, whispering its fading reminder to thank creativity. The question that remains is “why”? I assume the blog was only a promotion for the 2016 Cannes Lions and was deemed unnecessary for the promotion of the 2017 festival.
To the Cannes Lions International Film of Creativity, please bring back “Thank You Creativity” and it’s magical “Daily Creativity” blog. For all of the above reasons, the platform was a blessing to so many and had incredible potential for growth. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is sorry to see it go.
John Most ran an advertising agency for ten years of his 38 years in the industry. Now a professor at Chapman University, he joins us today to share his expertise on the timeless marketing of two soda giants, Coca-Cola and Pepsi and his views on the Pepsi-Kendall Jenner spot scandal.
Can you please describe Pepsi’s advertising style?
Pepsi’s advertising style has been really consistent over time, and I think what they did was they decided to try to stand apart from their competition, obviously being Coca-Cola, but they wanted to communicate that they were always going to be the beverage for this next generation. So there was, early on, the Pepsi generation, and that evolved over time, but even if you look at their ads today, that has not changed. They’re still targeting the younger, a little bit more hip, if you will, also a little bit more rebellious in some ways, so those basic roots of what their brand values are have not really changed over time. And I think that it’s right that they haven’t. They really have a very clearly defined target audience, and they’ve been very successful at growing their business that way.
And what is your opinion on using social justice issues in their advertising, and do you think that’s something they’ve done a lot in the past or is that a new thing to try to be a bit more edgy?
I think by using social justice issues, they felt it would resonate with their younger target audience, today’s younger Gen Z’s. A lot of people think it’s millennials- no, it’s actually Gen Z’s. And that generation has a very strong, clear definition of their social consciousness and what they believe in that differs from millennials. That’s a very close group in some cases. I think what they did in the Kendall Jenner spot was what I would call a strategic misfire that got a lot of backlash on social media. The idea of trying to introduce that and trying to appeal to their target was a good one, and I think that’s what their key insight was. We have this target, we know that they’re into social justice. Let’s go create an ad to tap into that.
Now, on to Coca Cola. Can you please describe their advertising style and how it contrasts from Pepsi’s?
Yeah, Coca-Cola, of course the main competitor to Pepsi, also has a very clearly defined target audience and very clearly defined brand image. Nobody at Coca Cola in Atlanta or at Pepsi in Somers, New York wants to tell you this. They’re both selling the sameproduct. But what you’re buying is what that brand says about you. Their advertising has been very consistent over time. Rather than being the choice for the new generation like Pepsi, for Coca-Cola, it’s being at the heart of what America is. They talk about the taste and quenching your thirst, but if you look at their campaigns over time, they tap into what people would understand and recognize across the country and around the world. One of the most famous commercials was called “Hilltop” and the commercial has one person that starts to sing and she says “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” and then another person adds in. Now, these are people from around the world. And it was to communicate this sense of “we’re all in this together, we’re all one people”. The US spots that would run during the year were always about little pieces of Americana, and that’s something that I think has stood strong for many years, and I don’t see them making any plans to change that anytime soon.
Please feel free to contact John with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my last blog post, I mentioned Unilever’s efforts to combat stereotypes and show support for gender equality and female empowerment as part of their Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). What I didn’t talk about was the other bulk of the plan, which focuses on making their global supply chain more sustainable. In 2010, new CEO, Paul Polman, launched the Unilever sustainable living plan, which was driven by the idea that sustainable growth is the only acceptable business model. By reducing environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact, Unilever believes that it is investing in current and future consumers and society as a whole, thus providing long-term benefit for shareholders.
Many brands from Toms to Tesla to Brita are working to reduce manufacturing waste and produce environmentally friendly products, and some are going as far as taking the waste already out in the world and turning it into something useful, environmentally friendly, even profitable. But would you ever think that something fitting that description would be desired if not pursued? German footwear brand Adidas certainly believed so, and this past November, they presented it to the world.
Overall, Adidas has been making many changes to their operations to reduce waste and promote sustainability. Last year, Adidas eliminated plastic bags in their stores and has reportedly reduced plastic bag use by over 70 million. They’ve been experimenting with sustainable production, material sourcing, and sustainable technologies as well as cutting per-employee water usage.
However, in November 2016, Adidas unveiled something completely different. The brand released its first soccer jerseys and running shoes mass produced with plastic found in the oceans. In the past, Adidas has launched various limited runs of shoe styles made using recycled polyester and sustainable cotton, but Adidas’ plan to repurpose plastic waste polluting Earth’s oceans caught consumers’ attention.
This May, the German footwear brand will begin selling 3 new versions of its popular Ultraboost style, made with the recycled materials. On average, the shoes reuse 11 plastic bottles per pair and feature laces, heel lining and sock liner covers that are made from recycled materials. Even the mid-soles will be 3D printed from repurposed plastic. The shoes will sell for $200 a pair, which is a high price for sneakers but a small price to pay for saving our oceans. Right?
Adidas hopes to produce and sell 1 million pairs of UltraBoost sneakers using ocean plastic this year. That would be $200 million in revenue. Maybe being green brings in the green?
A few more questions for you to consider:
If one of your favorite brands produced a popular product made with sustainable materials, would you be willing to pay a premium on their normal price for that product?
And in general,
Would you pay a premium price for a product from a sustainable or environmentally friendly company? Think Volvo vs. Tesla or Keds vs. Toms.
In November of 2015, a YouTube video by Japanese personal care and beauty company, Shiseido, went viral.
The video depicted a classroom of female Japanese students as the camera panned across the room and focused in on the girls, only pausing to zoom in on a book in the last girl’s hands. The page reads, “did you notice the boys in this classroom?” Pulling back, the camera pans across the screen again, this time sped up, revealing teams of makeup artists and hair stylists returning the girls to their natural state: male. Wigs are un-pinned, makeup is un-applied, wall dressings re-hung, and books are re-opened onto the desks around the boys. The video ends with a smirk from the now-male teacher entering the room.
Director, Show Yanagisawa, and Creative Director, Masato Kosukegawa, set out to demonstrate the power of Shiseido’s products, and they did so with a captivating element of surprise. The video is also just plain cool, appealing to young men and women, as well as the LGBTQ audience among young people and specifically students.
Founded in 1872, Shiseido is a 144 year old multinational company specializing in skin care, hair care, cosmetics, and fragrance with over $105 million in revenue and over 33,000 employees. Despite its presence as such an established company producing high revenue and representing a significant number of employees, which historically can slow a company down, Shiseido remains flexible and innovative. On Shiseido Group’s corporate Shiseido at a Glance page, the company identifies its longterm vision as becoming a “multicultural company,” “filled with energy” and “overflowing with youthfulness.” With this video, Shiseido takes a step towards that goal by pushing the boundaries of marketing and promising to represent today’s society.
And Shiseido isn’t the only company pledging to represent society and promote equality. Other brands challenging gender stereotypes today like Brawny (#StrengthHasNoGender) and Always (#LikeAGirl), will soon be joined by the Unilever lineup. The company recently announced an addition to their Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to ensure gender equality and promote female empowerment among its brands. Many stakeholders may argue that a company’s obligation is to its financial stability and long-term profit. However, Unilever operates according to the philosophy that promoting health and equality and operating sustainably is of crucial importance to creating long-term profit. Even formal studies have concluded that when advertisers create and perpetuate gender stereotypes, they harm gender equality and society at large (Opplinger, 2007).
At a panel event at the Festival of Marketing on October 5, 2016, Aline Santos, SVP of Global Marketing at Unilever, stated, “If we unstereotype women we might be stereotyping men, and that is something we don’t want to do. It’s about unstereotyping people [and] not just defining [them] by gender.” So on that note, I personally applaud Shiseido for their dedication to representing global society and cultural change, while also pointing out that the boys are surrounded by open books, wall hangings, and a guitar, while the girls are simply posed, lounging in a bare, white-walled classroom.
Chahal, M. (2016, November 04). Gender stereotyping is about people not just women. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/10/05/unilever-gender-stereotyping-is-about-people-not-just-about-women/
Oppliger, P. Effects of gender stereotyping on socialization. In: Preiss RW, Gayle BM, Burrell N, Allen M, Bryant J, editors. Mass media effects research: Advances through meta-analysis.Mahway: Lawrence Erlbaum; 2007. pp. 199–214.
Shiseido Co., Ltd. (n.d.). Shiseido at a Glance. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://www.shiseidogroup.com/company/glance/?rt_bt=top-whoweare_003