As an agency that keeps our clients moving with the times, we find ourselves looking across the industry for inspiration. One thing we love is when brands go all-in with an advertising campaign that could cause a stir, but it pays off big time.
The latest example is Channel 4’s star-studded advert. The ad covers the questionable complaints received on storylines and appearance of the roster of actors and presenters with a “maybe you’re the problem” message.
The advert shows actors and presenters from the channel’s roster reading out homophobic, ablist, racist and downright petty complaints made about them. ‘Complaints Welcome’ has been met with a hugely positive response.
Challenging the public
In short, the ad worked because it was authentic. Channel 4 has always been known to have a diverse roster that pushes the boundaries with its programming. The ad made it clear that it’s not set to change.
Challenging the way things work and moving forward with the world is how brands stay relevant. And sometimes, the public have to be the butt of the joke – especially when they’re the ones in the wrong.
We used a similar tactic in our Metrolink Monsters campaign, as we named annoying behaviours that are common in Manchester’s commuters. While we didn’t name and shame, we gave plenty of opportunity for tram users to think ‘could I be a Vaping Vera or Rude Jude?’.
While a small few (there’s always some!) didn’t like the potential comparisons shared, many people loved it. The game we created generated over 100,000 plays!
Spark a debate
When Innocent Drinks launched their ‘Bolt from the Blue’ drink earlier this year it started a debate over whether the drink was actually blue, as it looked green to a lot of people (we think it’s green).
The campaign messaging on social media kept hitting home the message that the drink was indeed blue, which saw great engagement from followers.
The debate is still ongoing and Innocent has even partnered with Duncan James from boyband Blue to settle it, using video content and memes across it’s channels.
It pays to be different
River Island broke down barriers in 2018 with the ‘Labels are for clothes’ campaign. The clothing brand used a diverse range of adult and child models with both mental and physical disabilities including Paralympic athlete, Jordan Luce. The message was simple – labels belong to clothes, not people.
The campaign message was strengthened further through partnering with anti-bullying charity ‘Ditch the Label’. River Island positioned itself as a brand for everyone. It was praised by the public and industry professionals for the bold stance to change people’s perceptions of the fashion industry.
Making the best of a bad situation
Cluckin’ ‘ell. Sometimes bad things happen, we all remember when KFC made headlines for running out of its core product (chicken!). As a result, it had to close hundreds of UK branches.
Instead of hiding away, KFC owned it. It hit back with the FCK campaign, injecting an apology with a bit of unorthodox humour. By simply rearranging its brand acronym, KFC’s reputation was salvaged and the creative industry was in awe. Pure genius!
Deliver the campaign message properly
If you’re just following the crowd without understanding the message, be careful.
Just take Pepsi, who tried to cash in on Black Lives Matter protests by having millionaire Kendall Jenner put an end to the clashes, curing racial tensions by cracking open a cold can of what probably tasted exactly like white privilege.
To say Pepsi missed the mark is a bit of an understatement. The ad was pulled and apologies were made, but it happened two years ago and we’re still talking about it.
If you’re looking to get across your brand’s message, we can help! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.