Can you pay to get an ad banned?

I ask because this magnificent effort by Spark44 London for Jaguar has been banned for “encouraging dangerous driving”, which I can’t see at all.

What I can see is how much of a dream it’d be to have an ad about villainy – starring the man who played Loki – banned for encouraging dangerous behaviour. And like most people, the only reason I’ve even seen this ad is because it got banned.


Beautiful ad, by the way. Polished script, great choice of actor, perfect delivery and an effortless tie-up with the product. Plus it’s really, really sexy. Just saying.

Honda shows Hyundai how it’s done

Most people who read this blog, follow me on Twitter or know me in real life remember the time I had a somewhat high-profile disagreement with Hyundai.


BBC World News

For those who didn’t see it, Hyundai made a really badly-judged ad that showed someone trying to commit suicide in one of their cars, and failing because the car only emits water. As I commented at the time, there were many more creative and interesting ways to deliver this message without sucker-punching people who’ve lost loved ones to suicide, or showing them how to do it (there were details in the ad that would help people die effectively).

Honda – a brand I’ve worked on and have a huge soft spot for – have just come out with their answer to the water-emissions brief. And isn’t this just a world away from someone ending his life?



Image and story via PSFK


Honda-branded bottled water, created entirely from the emissions of their FCX model.

Simple. Effective. And it didn’t make me cry.

Wasn’t so hard, was it?

I think LG is trolling us with the G Flex ad

If you like:

– English actors badly delivering Americanised dialogue (“Open it already!” “Bro” “Like a BAWSS”)

– Seeing a man awkwardly snog his own hand

– Hand-beards that look like pubic hair

– The film ‘How to Get Ahead in Advertising’ (the one where Richard E. Grant has a sarcastic talking pimple)

Then you must love this ad for LG’s G Flex phone.

Otherwise, please feel free to join me in a chorus of “What. The. BUGGERY?!”

Edit: this has been pulled from LG’s official channel so I’ve replaced the video above. The internet never forgets.


Brands with balls: Johnnie Walker’s Glass Car

Picture this: you represent an alcohol brand. Your alcohol brand sponsors an activity that involves driving cars very, very fast around tight bends. Meanwhile, drink-driving is a huge issue in your sector.

Do you stick your head in the sand? Or stand up, accept your social responsibility, and make an ad like this?

The beautiful, brave Johnnie Walker ‘Glass Car’ piece is impressive for three reasons:

1. The stunning motion graphics
2. The script, which manages to tie in the product, Formula 1 sponsorship and an anti-drink-driving message – while still sounding beautifully-crafted
3. The fact that many, many brands would never touch this idea, for fear it would associate them with drink drivers.

Brand Republic doesn’t list the agency or the motion graphics house, but everyone involved in this must be feeling pretty good right now. Not only that it’s executed in such an immensely classy, inspiring way, but that it got made at all. We’ve all seen scores of ballsy ad ideas like this get killed over the years, because frankly, it’s a lot easier to ignore the big issues in your sector than to face them head-on, and risk people thinking that your customers are the problem.

I’m less keen on the hashtag #ImNOTdriving, which doesn’t seem to fit the tone of the script – but it seems to be established on Instagram already, so perhaps Johnnie Walker were trying to use an existing social property instead of creating a new one.

This is a striking, very shareable ad that gets its message across and positions Johnnie Walker as a responsible, ethical purveyor of alcohol. But most impressively, it’s Diageo showing that they’d rather take a stand than join all the other companies with their fingers in their ears. Great work.

Update: Grant Hunter has kindly provided the credits:

Agency: iris Worldwide Singapore
Director: Russ Appleford
Production: The Other Side

Well done, chaps.

Social media vs. the real world: why Kellogg’s got burned and Pampers didn’t

Last week, Kelloggs UK tweeted something they’ve been regretting ever since:


Twitter users were quick to pounce, calling Kellogg’s out for what they saw as a cynical attempt to promote themselves through emotional blackmail:


Kellogg’s pulled the tweet and apologised twice – once blaming the “wrong use of words” and one more comprehensive apology after the first one was badly received.

But all this left me wondering why Kelloggs’ campaign was so reviled when Pampers have been doing essentially the same thing – to widespread praise – for the best part of a decade:


The Pampers/Unicef “one pack = one vaccine” campaign has been running for eight years, with messaging explaining that for every pack sold, Procter & Gamble will “provide UNICEF with funding for one life-saving tetanus vaccine to protect a mother and her newborn in the developing world.”

Twitter barely existed when the campaign launched at Christmas in 2006, but surely if this approach was so abhorrent, other media outlets would have risen up in the same way? Hardly. In fact, far from a backlash, the Harvard Business Review comments that “consumer enthusiasm has been so strong that the partners now expect the disease will be eliminated, as measured by World Health Organization standards, by 2015.”

The most I could find in terms of dissenting opinion was one abandoned Facebook page complaining that $0.07 is not a high enough donation considering the pack price. Where are all the angry people saying “Wait, so if we don’t buy your nappies, you’ll let a child die of tetanus? You monsters!”.

So why the difference?

Why were Kellogg’s berated and forced to apologise while P&G are held up as an example of a generous corporation?

My instinct is that it comes down to the medium. A retweet is a purely promotional entity – it doesn’t serve any purpose other than promoting the tweet and the tweeter. Buying a pack of nappies, on the other hand, is something people do anyway – not to promote the brand, but simply to care for their baby. So the Pampers campaign is seen as an attractive extra – you’re already buying these nappies, why not help while you’re at it? While the Kellogg’s campaign is seen as “advertise us and we’ll do something nice”.

The difference is really immaterial, though, because the intention at both companies is the same. Pampers gets more people buying their nappies than the competing brand, and Kellogg’s gets promoted into people’s timelines. There’s a clear business benefit in both cases, so the difference is entirely on the consumer’s side – doing something they’d do anyway versus feeling used.

There’s also an element of precedent. The idea of buying something to help a cause is deeply entrenched in society – the charity cake sale, the face cream with the pink ribbon packaging – whereas using throwaway social media interactions to help a cause is associated with chain emails and manipulative, spammy Facebook posts.

mm1“Thank goodness – we finally have enough likes to pay for my son’s operation”

At their core, both campaigns are exactly the same, and both have merit in my view. Neither organisation had any obligation to do something for vulnerable people, and lord knows they’re doing more than most companies. The difference is purely in the way they’ve gone about it. Perhaps Pampers can learn from Kellogg’s experience and avoid extending their offline campaign into social.

Good thing they haven’t just launched a “1 view = 1 vaccine” campaign on their YouTube videos then, isn’t it?


Here we go again.

Update: looks like Private Eye agree with me:










Photo courtesy of the brilliant BetaRish

Which came first – the chicken, the chicken, the chicken or the owl?

Unlike the egg conundrum, we can answer this one.

First, SmarterEveryDay made this video about chickens not moving their heads, all the way back in 2008: 


Then ‘Rotate Your Owl’ by Weebl’s Stuff added disco music in 2011 :


Then this ad by Ogilvy & Mather Germany compared the non-moving chicken head to the steadiness of the Fujifilm XS-1 (January 2013, according to Ads of the World):


And finally the Mercedes Magic Body Control ad by Jung von Matt, which has been doing the rounds, appeared in September 2013: 


Which one of these counts as the ‘original’ depends on who you ask. If it’s the one that first popularised the idea, it’s Smarter Every Day. If it’s whoever made it into a dance move, it’s Weebl’s Stuff. If it’s whoever made it into an ad, it’s Ogilvy and Mather. If it’s whoever made it into a viral ad, it’s Jung von Matt.

If it’s whoever came up with the idea in the first place, it’s the chickens.