To love or to hate, is that really the question?
If there is one thing we can all agree upon today, it’s that we disagree a lot. And we disagree intensely. In today’s polarized climate, not taking a side can create enemies in both camps. At the very least, it will make you less relevant. Just ask Jimmy Fallon, the former U.S king of late night entertainment. His apolitical comedic approach comes off as out of touch in the current zeitgeist. His ratings have plummeted and his show is heading to third place, something that would have been unthinkable a year ago before the infamous hair tousle. Oppositely, Jimmy Kimmel, whose late night show was once cemented in a far off third place, has seen his ratings spike after sharing his personal stories and unapologetic opinions.
For advertisers this is nothing new. But the necessity for a clear and consistent brand point of view feels more critical than ever. As new technologies and temperaments intensify, it is easy to fall into the trap of chasing trends. Our own differential, the art of persuasion, is not based on facts and figures. As Bill Bernbach stated, “There may be changes in our society. But learning about those changes is not the answer. For you are not appealing to society. You are appealing to individuals, each with his own ego, each with the dignity of his own being, each like no one else in the world, each a separate miracle. The societal appeals are merely fashionable, current, cultural appeals which make nice garments for the real motivations that stem from the unchanging instincts and emotions of people.”
That’s what makes this collection of work notable. In contentious times, they are able to connect with people through humor and take a stand. They do not ignore the elephant in the room. What’s more, these ideas never loose site of the authenticity of the brand and the times in which we live.
The latest Marmite campaign from adam&eve London is a fresh take on their well-known Love/Hate premise. As usual, the campaign does not hide the fact that many people hate the taste of Marmite. And the latest Gene Project film does not shy away from exposing the polarizing dynamic that exists particularly within families today. The team even took the concept to a whole new level with the latest, advancing technology. First an actual 12-month clinical trial was conducted in partnership with one of the UK’s leading genetic testing centers, proving that there is a biological link to people’s taste preference for the brand. Marmite Gene Test Kits were then made available so families could test themselves and see who was actually born a lover or a hater. Luckily, two haters can still produce a lover.
We Are Unlimited’s Buttermilk Chicken Tenders campaign for McDonald’s finds a unique way to tell a classic story. The idea of utilizing a grandmother for a food expert may not be new, but her lighthearted attitude is. The campaign doesn’t pretend that its food could ever compete with home cooked favorites and it’s ok with that. The execution brings a smile that’s authentically McDonald’s. Grandma deserves a break today and she’s gonna seize it.
In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to stand up for what you believe. This is not just a reminder for our clients, it is even more relevant for us. There is no greater disservice we can for our clients than to not debate with them and defend the ideas we believe in most. As Bill said, “It is actually dishonest to differ with a client on an advertising question and not do everything in your power to make vividly clear why you differ with him. If you submerge your convictions, you will produce advertising without convictions…and that kind of advertising will never sell anything.” There was most likely a touch of humor too when he concluded: of course the client must have the final word. It is their money.