U by Kotex leakage freakage

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Kimberley Clark are going out of their way to push the problem.

It might be “leakage” or it could be the risk of attracting dogs by virtue of an unclean bum (ref Kleenex Cottonelle).

This latest effort is confronting women with what we are told is a common problem. The solution is U by Kotex.

In both cases the company tackles the problem with clear product solutions.

Both approaches and that of Carefree raise an interesting question. Do consumers respond better to direct, descriptive advertising and what level of directness is more effective? The word “vagina” has recently been a subject of many complaints regarding the advertising campaign for Carefree Actifresh.

It’s interesting to ask if this approach researches well with all women / consumers? The industry likes to trumpet from on high and say we MUST change the consumer – “better out than in!” and remove ourselves from these suppressed notions of discrete advertising…? A vocal minority applaud the use of language that can make mums and dads cringe into their sofa. “It’s a vaginal discharge so lets herald it from on high!”. I’m not so sure.

There is a subtle balance between being direct and being overtly confronting to women and families in their own living rooms. U, which is firmly youth targeted, gets it right. We aren’t shocked into awareness of the problem and efficacy of the solution, we don’t hear language that is too confronting and we are indirectly very aware of the problem without being told that it is a “vaginal discharge”…territory other brands would prefer to own.

At the end of the day it is about understanding the audience not just the user and when it is the mass medium of TV the family audience matters. This is why it is an interesting topic for discussion when used in mass market media (rather than more directly targeted communication).

Without being overly conservative I sincerely hope that brands don’t continue to reach for stand-out notoriety by the use of the lowest creative common denominators in overtly describing what many real people consider to be discrete categories.

The true creative challenge is to communicate the problem and benefit / solution without the reliance on the literal descriptions and language.

Cannes Lions Press Grand Prix Winner – “Benetton’s Unhate” Kissing Ads From Fabrica, 72andSunny

Cannes Press Grand Prix Goes to Benetton's Kissing Ads From Fabrica, 72andSunny

Having just posted about John Hegarty and his view on the state of current advertising (i.e. the ads aren’t good enough). It seems apt to look at the Cannes press Grand Prix winner.

Benetton’s provocative “Unhate” campaign showing world leaders kissing, created by Italian agency Fabrica with help from 72andSunny in Amsterdam got the prize.

Three executions were honored—the ones with U.S. president Barack Obama and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez; Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and German chancellor Angela Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Absent was the campaign’s most incendiary image—a photo of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a senior Egyptian imam which was pulled almost immediately after the campaign broke last November.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement cited by The Guardian, after slamming the image as “entirely unacceptable.”

“It is a serious lack of respect for the pope, an affront to the feelings of the faithful and an evident demonstration of how, in the field of advertising, the most elemental rules of respect for others can be broken in order to attract attention by provocation,”

The White House was not amused:

“The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.”

Jury president Tham Khai Meng said that Benetton “has heart impact and gut impact and promotes a global debate”.

Steve Jones, a British juror at the French Riviera event said: “The reason we chose this is because it stood out on the wall… It’s not like traditional advertising. It’s not making a point about the clothes, its brand history. It doesn’t obey the rules.”

  • True – but aren’t we judging ads not art and don’t the rules of the sale or effectiveness make it great advertising?

His sentiments were echoed by co-juror Komal Bedi Sohal, from the UAE, who added: “You can like it, you can dislike it, you can’t ignore it.”

  • True – but is an arresting image that you can’t ignore the best criteria to judge advertising? Surely any brand could spend the money to publicize an amazing and provocative image, but only a few can make an arresting image that is relevant and sells the product?

The campaign was started in the ’80’s by Oliviero Toscani who was the creative mind behind the controversial work that turned Benetton into a household name.

Toscani was Benetton’s creative director for 18 years from 1982 to 2000. By the height of his success, Toscani was known for his arrogance and drama (and loss of perspective perhaps!), but his first campaign for Benetton in 1982 used teddy bears to model the children’s clothing line. More traditional than you might think.

Twenty-five years ago, Benetton shot to global fame with its controversial line and campaign – all the colors of the world (which became United Colors of Benetton). At the time, whilst controversial, this campaign seemed to reflect the irreverence of the brand as well as the physical nature of the product which featured a wash of primary colours. 

The original United Colours was one of the great campaigns, differentiated from the category and relevant to the brand personality and primary product ranges.

Later efforts veered into the weird and wonderful – hearts, lungs, HIV tattoos and just-born babies come to mind.

I would argue that as the campaign veered off a relevant course for the brand (it’s a clothing line and store…), the fortunes of the brand took a nose dive. The figures prove it.

In the ’80’s when Benetton needed to generate awareness amongst a naive public, the notoriety of the campaign had an impact. It then became self-indulgent in the extreme and the company has not recovered.

There were a number of ads featuring HIV in one way or another, such as the famous photo of dying AIDS activist David Kirby taken in his hospital room in the in May 1990, with his father, sister and niece at his bedside. The photograph by Therese Frarewent on to win the 1991 World Press Photo Award, but whether or not this harrowing picture was an appropriate advertising image was widely debated. Some suggested it was more exploitative than supportive with AIDS activists saying that its use in advertising portrayed AIDS in a negative light, spreading fear rather than acceptance. The implied connection between the deaths of David Kirby and Jesus provoked outrage in many markets.

It is therefore very valid to ask if these latest Benetton Unhate ads represent the best on offer in press advertising, or are they just the most extraordinary and provocative campaign in market? If advertising success is measured by sales or by driving foot traffic to Benetton’s franchisees, this strategy and the previous campaigns have not worked.

There is no doubt that advertising remains a delicate blend of art and science. But I don’t agree that the industry is best served by rewarding the sensationalist approach of Benetton when it has lost all relevance to the brand. The Benetton campaign is art / social commentary, not advertising. The ad promises irreverence and a completely different perspective on the world today and all of it’s problems and prejudices that the stores, product and brand experience overall simply fail to deliver.

The judging at Cannes has come in for criticism on a few fronts. I would argue that it needs to return to the basics of effective advertising and the ability to sell a brand to its potential consumer in a relevant way, not just about notoriety, rule breaking or provocation. Great images that can change consumer opinion and sell the product at high return on investment should be recognised and rewarded.

Probably to “dry” for many, but this is actually how the industry survives. By sales.

As John Hegarty said at Cannes, advertising needs to stimulate and solicit the right response in the consumer along the lines of:

“Wow, I want to have a conversation with these people’, as opposed to ‘I’m doing my best to ignore them and they’re doing their best to trip me up in some way or another’. Isn’t that awful, we’re an industry that tries to trick people into watching what we do, why isn’t it inspiring, so people want to watch it.”

Benetton are trying to attract us by provocation rather than inspiration.

To some this might invite interest, particularly amongst social commentators and advertising aficionados, but I think that the shopping majority (and it is a mass market brand) will be confused by the aims of this campaign or potentially confronted by it, not inspired. Challenge and irreverence has a place in advertising, but it needs to be relevant and motivating to the brand.

Benetton Unhate is a great and provocative image, but arguably not a great ad.

Vitek Vodka “Parkour” ad – “distilled by peasants drunk by royalty”

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Here’s an interesting one.

My initial thoughts were as follows…A send up of “Parkour” runs as a nice piece of entertainment – it does engage you in the story and the inevitable conclusion. The question is does this build brand awareness for Vitek and give you any reason to buy?

Is it really motivating to suggest that the brand is distilled by Peasants and drunk by Royalty? (I keep thinking about hygiene issues). I’m also not sure that the “made in Australia” claim sits well with the brand positioning around Polish distillers?

There is a series of these and we are encouraged to believe that the distillers, whilst expert in making the vodka, are a bit eccentric when it comes to other skills. Presumably through their single minded dedication to the art of making vodka.

If there was some indication as to why we might believe that the Polish peasant brewers are the best distillers it would help.

Perhaps I’m being a bit too literal and critical, but I do feel that the motivation is lacking to buy the brand when there are so many other alternatives.

So given my skepticism, I went on-line to find out more and uncovered a convenient brand truth!

This is an on-line venture and in his own words goes like this:

“My name is Vitek, I was born in Poland, and grew up watching my father not only infusing vodka but also distilling it. So by the time I was a teenager, I knew how to put a bag of potatoes into a bottle.

Regardless of what I was doing professionally I always considered vodka a hobby – until now – suddenly it’s a job and a business.

Like all hobbies you become a bit of an authority on the subject and today I am regarded – in all modesty – as one of Australia’s leading vodka experts.
By applying traditional infusion methods that have been in our family for generations, to a contemporary product, I have created a range of fresh produce vodkas that have received both critical and commercial acclaim. They are Rose, Coffee and Strawberry.

Vitek Vodkas are purposely at 25% A/V because they are designed to be enjoyed for their flavour. They can be drunk with food, as a sipping drink or just hanging out with friends – much like wine. Doing that at 40% A/V, which most vodka is, would get you so trashed you would be losing friends instead of making them.

Like all vodka, Vitek Vodka should be drunk very cold. Put it in a freezer for a couple of hours or in the fridge for several hours before you drink it. Come in, have a look around and get real with the only flavoured vodka that’s made from real ingredients not chemicals.”

I then spotted some magazine articles (Vogue no less!) on Vitek and was left wondering why the ads don’t bring more of this marvelous provenance and product differentiation to life! There is some creative gold in the Rose, Chocolate, Coffee and Strawberry frozen sipping infusions, as the magazine articles point out.

Couple this to a genuinely interesting and innovative website and the product differentiation leaps out at you.

From skeptic to fan in a matter of clicks.

A sin to say it (..to some), but perhaps spending more on the PR campaign will build this into a bigger and better proposition!

Oak Hungry Thirsty

Great work from the Monkeys.

The insight is what kills it for me. love the product and the product doesn’t just do the job on thirst, it’s a full blown chocolate feast of a meal (I do like chocolate…).

Coining “hungry thirsty” is a great way to deliver a message added to which the straightforward, but quirky art direction is innovative and grabs some attention.