There's been a bit of a flurry on the internets and in the media about this advertisement (below) from Pantene in the Philippines. Many have questioned whether this is an advertisement for a hair product, or something bigger - perhaps a contribution to the feminist discourse.
It certainly has the capacity to contribute to a discussion about the role of women in the workplace, and some of the entrenched difficulties that women have when compared to the way that men operate (and are rewarded).
My brilliant colleague, Amanda Allisey, put it eloquently recently when arguing (on that great font of debate, Facebook) about the media's portrayal of women, and how it influences social norms (which means we don't notice it):
As advertising opportunities for businesses become more fragmented, enhanced and accelerated by the Internet, businesses are looking for more creative ways to get their brands into the minds of their target markets.
With this in mind, on Wednesday, Spotify – the Swedish music streaming service that gives subscribers who pay with cash, or by listening to ads, access to a huge amount of music from major and independent record labels – unveiled a global partnership with Coca-Cola. The soft drink behemoth will curate content and music for Spotify members, and according to Coke, “takes advantage of the existing Spotify relationship with Facebook and the Coca-Cola Facebook audience of over 40 million fans to create a social experience that will reach millions of interconnected consumers around the world.”
Clearly, some PR company (or companies) is making good money out of convincing large corporations and businesses that the way to get to consumers, in this fragmented media world, is to do long-form advertisements. Rather than short, pithy 30 second spots, there seems to be a bit of a movement toward longer, snappy and emotionally rich adver-films that tell the story about "Our People". Some swelly music, beautiful sweeping pan shots, nice depth of field, and happy smiling faces... you get the picture. The Australian mining industry, the Mormons, and now Qantas have all put together a series of films about how their people, are people, just like you and me.
In his letter to members, Minerals Council chief executive Mitch Hooke says that in current day Australia, major policy battles are fought and won in the media and that miners must spend accordingly.
So is Mitch Hooke right when he says the “new paradigm is one of public contest through the popular media more so than rational, effective, considered consultation and debate”?
When it comes to branding and advertising, much of what we are exposed to creates only marginal difference. But even small differences can tip the balance toward a particular choice, and plain packaging of tobacco products will make this kind of difference.
This is because small differences build up into larger differences, and in marketing, the game is all about increments rather than dramatic changes in behaviour.
So, if we are serious about reducing the number of smokers in our population, the removal of branding, logos and promotion on the packages of tobacco products is a small step in the right direction.
On New Years day, as the Victorian and Northern Territory governments followed NSW, WA and the ACT by implementing laws preventing cigarettes from being put on display to the public, the Australian Medical Association called for a $25 million TV and newspaper advertising campaign showing “damaged vital organs or people drinking liquefied body fat” to shock Australians into giving up junk food and sugary soft drinks. The good doctors based their call upon a belief that the fear-based advertising campaigns used by the TAC (in Victoria) and Quit have been effective in changing behaviour around driving and smoking.
An advertisement created by The Precinct studio highlights the debate about whether shock ads actually change behaviour. The viral execution features a mother preparing to inject her son with heroin before the scene changes to show him eating a hamburger.
The caption reads: ''You wouldn't inject your children with junk so why are you feeding it to them?''
A new advertisement to be shown in Washington DC (US) made by the health lobby group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) shows an overweight, middle aged man lying in the morgue, with a half-eaten hamburger in his hand. Some lame acting by a weeping woman (the assumption is that she is related to him) and a nodding doctor, rounds out a generally unremarkable execution.
So, there has been lots of coverage (of US coverage) in Australia, and some coverage (of the Australian coverage of the US coverage) in the US, about an advertisement designed for the Australian market where an Australian cricket fan, finds himself in a crowd of West Indian cricket fans. To placate the “scary” crowd (who seem to be very happy and enjoying the cricket), the Australian hands out a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This advertisement forms part of the company’s "KFC’s Cricket Survival Guide" summer promotion campaign (click here to see other ads in the campaign).
Reports from SMH and other news outlets are advising that Kraft has responded to consumer “outrage” at the name of Kraft’s new product, iSnack 2.0 (is this Kraft’s Vista?), and decided to re-visit the competition to name the new product. This time, it will be a popularity vote – in the style of Australian Idol – another opportunity perhaps to raise the profile of the new product. Of course, iSnack 2.0 was a dumb name, but the amount of column inches (online, on TV and on-paper) devoted to this issue has been extraordinary.