Is Advertising Becoming More Inclusive?

Is Advertising Becoming More Inclusive?

Diversity Image
Well, there does seem to be more content out there celebrating diversity in all its forms. From interracial families enjoying Cheerios to the flood of messages acknowledging the LGBT community. And then there’s yet another gem from the “This Is Wholesome” campaign for Honey Maid that introduces a different take on Independence Day.

Maybe we’re reaching a turning point here. Maybe brands are finally seeing the proverbial light, realizing that their target audiences are a lot more diverse than they previously thought. And maybe, just maybe we’re all ready to embrace a more holistic approach to advertising.

So yeah, a change is happening. Quite possibly driven by advances in technology giving brands more visibility to and a better understanding of their audiences. Technology that’s also responsible for the newly-empowered consumer. Consumers more comfortable with sharing their opinion and having more power to demand marketing messages specifically tailored to them.

Yes, brands are finally discovering the money that’s been left on the table for years. And while that may seem like an ulterior motive to being more inclusive, it’s really just reality. Advertising has and always will be about selling something in the hopes that someone will buy it. And those “someones” are multilingual with various skin tones, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities.

With all of this inclusiveness flooding the market, the question remains: are we ready to embrace it?

If the first comment on this Ad Week post is any indication, then the answer is maybe not. And unfortunately, this isn’t the first inclusive ad to get such a warm reception. Remember that Cheerios ad mentioned earlier? Yeah, that one caused quite a stir.

Personally, I’d like to believe that a majority of people are okay with marketing experiences not directed towards them. That, in this case, most folks are capable of sharing public traditions that are precious to them because in actuality, they belong to everyone. But the fact remains that some people still get upset when the world doesn’t revolve around them and what they believe in. And frankly, that just breaks my heart.

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Posted by on July 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Billy Has One Mother and An Absent Father

Billy Has One Mother and An Absent Father

Happy Father's Day, Mom

Let me start this post off by saying Happy Father’s Day to all the men trying to be the best parents they can be to their children.

Now, let me follow that up with a Happy Father’s Day to all the single mothers who are (and have been) essentially pulling double duty. You deserve recognition on this day, too. Even though I’m pretty sure you’re cool with skipping the tacky neckties and the cheesy mugs that read World’s Best Dad.

As a product of a single-parent home, I’ve endured for years the endless barrage of marketing messages extolling the virtues of fatherhood that surround this day. Each year, I’m left wondering why the heck no one has bothered to thank the moms who happen to be “dads,” too. That is until this year when this lovely gem popped up.

Not gonna lie. I was overjoyed when I first saw this ad from Deutsch, LA for Angel Soft bath tissue. Finally, someone gets there’s a niche out here that has not being fully explored, represented or fully targeted. Yeah, the documentary style is a bit played out in today’s ad space. Yes, it may rely a little too heavily on outdated gender roles as the author of this Ad Age article points out. But gosh, is it ever so refreshingly different.

I’d even go so far as to defend the gender stereotypes by first asking, “What more do you expect from a marketing message built around a gender-stereotypical holiday?” We’ve traditionally celebrated fathers as disciplinarians, emotionally aloof partners and tough-as-nails men. Yes, you can cynically look down on the spot for not being bold enough to lead the charge for change. But, I wager that you fundamentally miss the fact that its boldness comes from having the courage to admit not everyone has that stereotypical father figure to celebrate. Especially when a majority of content is going the other way.

Second, as a professional familiar with the Angel Soft brand, I can tell you that the juxtaposition of strength, softness and value is the USP here. It only makes sense that the brand would want a spot that clearly puts this juxtaposition in the forefront. Mom was the nurturing parent (“soft”), the tough-as-nails parent (“strength”), and we recognize the greatness in that (“value”).

In short, I say good on you Angel Soft and Deutsch, LA. Thank you for making advertising and marketing a bit more representative of the real world.

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Posted by on June 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Lowe-Down On DIY

The Lowe-Down On DIY

Even with the SXSW news cycle in full churn, it’s been a pretty slow week. While a few stories have been interesting (like this bonehead promotion for Ex Machina), most of the news has been kinda meh.

So, the highlight of this week came down to either this gun control PSA from Grey, New York. Or, these Lowe’s spots from BBDO New York. And while gun control is indeed a serious and compelling issue, can one truly pass on the unexpected humor of home improvement? Not a chance.

Now granted, it is a gag technique we’ve seen before from countless brands like GEICO. But for some reason, it still works. Especially if the scripts are tightly written and the actors have great comedic timing.

BBDO definitely nails it with the first spot, hitting upon the well-known fitted sheet frustration. Let’s face it. All the YouTube tutorials in the world will never come close to solving this fundamental failing of humankind.

Unfortunately, the follow-up spots start to lose their humor quickly. As the joke structure becomes familiar, the pay-offs become weirdly strange before ending on an expected note.

All in all, it’s a solid effort for a well-trodden concept. For my money, I’d run the first two spots and save the other two for a Powerpoint presentation.

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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Digitally Killing Jesus

Digitally Killing Jesus

Surviving a drone attack with an Audi. Celebrating unconventional everyday heroes with IKEA. Cringing at an overly long, really boring and positively disgusting homage to an ad show.

Yep. It’s been that type of week. And this kick-ass digital website for Killing Jesus makes it even better.

Killing Jesus Homepage

Religion aside, this is an HTML 5, multimedia, tour de force from the folks at Mullen. Complete with audio clips, archaeological tidbits and sweeping tableaus that scroll like butter, the site delivers “the greatest story every retold” just in time for Easter. The three-hour docudrama airs Palm Sunday on the National Geographic Channel (trailer here).

Prepare to be immersed (to immerse yourself?) in a digital site that tackles Jesus from three different viewpoints: Son of God (the view of Christ and his disciples), Son of Man (the view of the Jewish priests of the time), and Threat to Rome (the political/economic implications).

Killing Jesus - Crowns

Warning: You can easily spend hours scrolling through each chapter, flipping from one perspective to the other. Simple and straightforward navigation lets you get lost in the story without getting lost in the website.

Killing Jesus - Tidbit

Yes, there are bible verses, but relax. This isn’t your typical Sunday School lesson. The writing is easily digestible to keep you scrolling along at a good clip. The site will also surprise you with informative audio clips here and there, so make sure you volume is turned up. The background track isn’t overly annoying, so there’s that.

Finally, did I mention the tableaus? Do yourself a favor and go full screen. You’ll thank me later.

Killing Jesus - Tableau 1

Killing Jesus - Tableau 2

Killing Jesus - Tableau 3

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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Shining A Light On Dark Social

Shining A Light On Dark Social

Believe it or not, social sharing was around long before the creation of Facebook and Twitter. Before we shared everything with everyone, we forwarded emails to close friends, posted pics to chat rooms, and shared favorite websites via instant messenger.

In the current age of social networks, “old-fashioned” sharing is not only alive and well, but thriving. It’s even called something different thanks to Alexis C. Madrigal, contributing editor of The Atlantic. 

Introducing Dark Social.

Named for its untraceable nature via conventional measuring methods, dark social may prove to be a boon for marketers everywhere. Especially in light of recent data showing that it’s now accountable for a majority of traffic across many media sites.

But why the increase in significance? Here are three theories.

1. Social network pressure is creating a lack of authenticity.

In his article, Madrigal states that the creation of social networks has turned conventional sharing into publishing or broadcasting. For some, the pressure to entertain, stay relevant or make money can become overwhelming, leading to a compromise of authenticity.

Looking for outlets to truly be themselves, social media users might be turning to private networks to recapture authentic expression. Any promotion via these outlets will automatically carry more weight and lead to increased traffic.

2. Social media users crave more of a personal touch to take action.

People perceiving public domain interactions as less authentic and less personal are less likely to buy into what’s being shared. Sure, they may continue to display their interest via a “Like” or “Thumbs Up,” but will they ultimately convert? Probably not.

By recapturing the personal nature of sharing, dark social offers users something they crave: a one-to-one (or one-to-few) connection. Sharing or promoting something in the dark can mean so much more to an audience and ultimately lead to real action.

3. Social media users are looking to take back their privacy.

Privacy agreements, cleverly worded and liberally interpreted, are the norm when it comes to social media. It’s causing many users to rethink what they share, or even question if they want to share in a public space at all. Dark social offers a way for users to remain social with more privacy and more control.

So, how does one make dark social work for marketing purposes?

The best advice comes from Alexis himself. Make the very best content you can, because ultimately, it’s what will drive sharing via social. Dark or otherwise.

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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Skip This If You Dare!

Skip This If You Dare!

The ad nation dropped quite a few hits on the unsuspecting public this week. From R/GA’s kissing skeletons to Tinder’s ode to vacation promiscuity, there was a lot to buzz about.

For this blog, I chose a series of ads that are both creative and strategic. Ads that sell GEICO insurance.

“Unskippable.” Courtesy of The Martin Agency. Hilarious? Yes. Creative? Yes. Quirky? A thousand times yes. All the things we’ve come to expect from the brand that brought us “Hump Day” and the camel we once loved, but now hate with a passion.

For a sec though, let’s take a peak behind the entertaining curtain and explore strategy. On the outside, these spots look like your regular 60-second television buy. But really, they’re pre-roll spots – the digital ads that play before the content you really care about. If you’re like most, you skip these and get right to good stuff. This behavior is what drives the creative here – a stripped down selling proposition that fits into the first 15 seconds of the ad. Genius right?

Wait. Aren’t GEICO commercials supposed to do more than just sell insurance? Where’s the quirkiness? Where’s the camel, damn it?! In other words, where’s the carrot you’ve previously dangled before us with spots like Hump Day? Well, it’s right there friends. Right there at the end of the commercial (which you normally skip). Keep watching won’t you? Genius right?

Well, how about this. This campaign is genius because it helps GEICO achieve something that is crucial to its current competitive strategy.

For months now, esurance has claimed 15 minutes to save 15% on car insurance is absurd. Remember when GEICO used to say that? Notice how they don’t really say that anymore? Maybe because it doesn’t represent their brand anymore?

In my opinion, these spots brilliantly put distance between GEICO and their old brand mantra. The message here is shorter. The message here is sweeter. The message quite simply says “savings.” Take time out of the equation. Time doesn’t matter. Why? Because someone can always do it faster.

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Posted by on March 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


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To Arms! IoT Is Coming!

The Internet Of Things

The technological gurus of CES have spoken. Prepare one and all for a future filled with more “things” connected to the Internet. Beds, cars and even refrigerators will gather and communicate information to fully anticipate and meet our every want and need. And from there, it’s only a matter of time before Skynet completely takes over.

Terminator reference aside, the Internet of Things (IoT) is slowly, but surely becoming a new reality. For marketers, it’s both exciting and terrifying with new opportunities to connect and a learning curve inevitable filled with costly mistakes.

IoT may be a brave new world that’s relatively unknown, but like every good Geico commercial says, there’s good news. The things we consider important now will be even more important moving forward.

1.  Marketing content will still need to be relevant.

IoT will give us more access to audiences through the devices they use daily. The content that we create will need to be even more timely and relevant. It won’t just need to sell, but add real value to everyday life.

2.  Marketing content will still need to be compelling.

Increased opportunity to reach audiences will lead to an increase in chatter. If people are tuning us out now, just wait until IoT is fully realized. Even the most relevant content will have a tough time to breaking through.

Moving forward will require an even more diligent quest for compelling stories that stop and persuade people to act wherever they may be.

3. Marketing content will still need to be cohesive.

Strategic content delivered via car, tablet, mobile, TV and everything in between will need to tie together for a seamless, brand experience. While we can only speculate about the effect IoT will have on the buying funnel, keeping audiences engaged and connected to our brands every step of the way will still be our most important objective.

4.  Our charge to use personal data responsibly will still apply.

IoT will provide unparalleled access to the intimate parts of everyday life. Our ability to use this information accurately and respectfully will mean the difference between having our brands trusted and revered, or maligned and discarded.

With IoT on the horizon, there is much to look forward to. Keep the important things top of mind as you choose to either charge ahead boldly, or hang back as strategic and mobile director Tim Dunn suggests.

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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