Normally, I don’t go for hidden camera stuff (in advertising or entertainment) but this provocative campaign for a difficult subject is an exception. What I admire is the light touch it took with such a heavy subject. For example, the main actor is youthful, handsome and charming. In ordinary circumstances any father would be delighted to have his daughter date a fellow like this. Not casting an older, salacious man invites us into the concept. When the girls run up and hug him our first reaction is hardly uncomfortable. It seems normal… until we grasp what’s going on.
The real people are real too. This is not a dumb observation. In my opinion 90% of so-called “real” persons seen on videos today come off as vulgar, coached-up buffoons. It’s all about BIG reactions. But here the unaware parents are more perplexed than SHOCKED!!! These are genuine reactions. The subtle shift into full awareness make the commercial utterly believable and, in a way, transfixing. The light tone is counter-intuitive and utterly effective. Bravo.
Read more in Adweek.
Client: BØRNEfonden (Child & Youth Foundation.)
Agency: Robert/Boisen & Like Minded
Adweek published a story asking the big winners at Cannes 2016 what their “secrets to success” were. You could read the article here or just stay with me and I’ll tell you how to win at Cannes. Forget analysis and trendspotting. Don’t be mystified by all the never-ending categories either. Winning at Cannes has more or less relied on the same formula for years.
First and foremost, do great work. Then get it seen and talked about. This one-two punch, by the way, is the same formula for ANY awards show.
Ideally, at least some of your great work should be real. Real means it went through the gauntlet known as your client (not to mention your agency’s often debilitating process) was brilliantly produced, ran in genuine media, and received boffo results.
Enter the shit out of it.
But, dear friends, you know as well as I do, that it doesn’t end there.
Long ago intrepid creatives learned how to game the system. At first simple cheating, what this looks like now is far more, shall we say, ornate. Boiled down it means mimicking the legitimate. Something like this: Create gorgeous work, share it with select others internally, maybe have a friendly client smile at it wistfully, then run it on your own dime somewhere cost efficient or, even free, like posters at the local coffee shop or via some innocuous website. Take a bunch of pictures of it “in situation,” make a case study video and voila: you have award show bait!
Enter the shit out of it.
Professional winners have huge budgets for entering shows and a complicit team doing it. Mixing in fake campaigns with real creates a juggernaut that is hard to untangle. A few real pieces win; a few scams. Who knows which is which? Who cares – the agency clearly does good work.
Be part of a network that knows all the ins and outs. Networks have a regular, sustained presence and they will massage the process to help you win. Networks know people in high places. Networks get judges into shows. Networks have wags who do interviews, predictions and the like i.e. Global Creative Directors. Networks do PR. Networks spend money.
Gaming the system has become the system. Varying degrees of corruption are tolerated for the greater good. A few unfortunates get caught and thrown to the –ahem- lions. The rest is the rest. If it looks like a winner and comes from a winner then, by golly, it is a winner!
The agencies that won the most at Cannes do all of the above, legitimately and otherwise. Been this way for years.
According to Tim Nudd’s marvelous piece in Adweek, this Secret deodorant commercial debuted on the season premier of The Bachelorette -a show I deplore but my wife and daughter’s adore. I’m not going to get into a rant on that but I do recognize the genius of this media buy. Like the Bachelor, the Bachelorette is a reality show about choosing a mate for life. Though such outcomes rarely happen long term for these contestants, the show acts as if it most certainly will. And that mythology is a potent one for lots of women and, I suppose, a fair amount of men. Whatever. This commercial flawlessly plays off and pays off the proposal ritual.
Instead of a rose, we get a fortune cookie. And the result is charmingly messed up. I won’t go into the plot. Watch the film yourself. It’s fabulous storytelling. Nudd’s analysis is spot on:
It’s a sly mix of comedy and tension, with great casting and subtle acting that really lets the scenario build nicely. When the reveal happens—even if you see it coming—it feels believable, and like a breakthrough, because of the obvious stress of the situation. Which by the way makes for a fine connection to the brand, even if inverting gender roles to sell product can still feel icky, however pure the motive.
The craft is first rate as well. Directed by Aoife McArdle for Wieden + Kennedy, the realness is laudatory – far more authentic than the Bachelorette that’s for sure. Everything about the spot rings true. (Not faux true.) The cast. The location. Direction and acting. It all works. I especially love the woman. Rather than get into specifics, let me just say it feels like we’re eavesdropping on a totally genuine moment and one that is delightful, romantic and full of life. Real life.
Her shirt says “love” not “hate.”
Apparently, this seemingly benign ad for GapKids elicited a shit storm on social media, critics from hither and yon claiming it racist on account of a white girl leaning on a black child’s head.
That scores of people expressed their displeasure over the image shouldn’t surprise any of us. The world is very, very sensitive right now. Putin. Trump. Obama. Black Lives Matter. The Occupy Movement. The Big Short. Domestic Abuse. Radical Islam. Terrorism. Right Wing. Left Wing. Police brutality. Syria. Refugees. I could free associate reasons on why we’ve become so mercurial and still be just scratching the surface.
But this uproar? Come on, people. That ad is about as racist as your average 11-year-old girl, which is to say, not at all. The kids were posing for a photograph. You put my daughters on a stage with a big time photographer they’ll do the same thing.
And to overblow the matter even more, Gap issued an apology. So unwarranted. If ever a client was respectful to multiculturalism, it’s this one. Gap and Gap Kids have long been vanguards when it comes to diversity in their casting. At least that’s been my observation.
Why isn’t the interpretation that the white child is leaning on a friend? As opposed to something foul like demeaning a black girl? Methinks latent racism exists in the eyes of the beholder. They see evil because they want to see evil.
Why stop at racism? The two other girl’s poses are –gasp- sexual. Are they not? Legs spread wide like that – for shame! And what about the exploitation of children in general? Shouldn’t these kids be in school? And where were those inappropriately tight-fitting clothes made – a sweat shop in China?
Enough is enough.Does racism exist in the world. Absolutely. In this ad? Absolutely not. Moralizing the crap out of a silly photograph like this goes too far.
Update: On top of everything else the two children in question are adopted sisters! http://www.fastcocreate.com/3058611/gap-apologizes-for-kids-ad-controversy-swaps-image