I’m a sucker for companies that try to market beyond moving their product and services. Of course, it’s much easier to do that when you have the capacity and comfort like Starbucks does (they shouldn’t have to get the word out at this point), but I’m glad to see a simply great concept and execution nonetheless.

We don’t see or hear any reference to coffee in these line of Starbucks ads, but it’s not hard to imagine these conversations being spoken over a cup. Texting has revolutionized how people communicate, but it can’t replicate nonverbal cues and emotion of person-to-person dialogue. We can have more meaningful conversations in person, and by extension, learn more about how the people we care about think; how we can engage can play a part in how we understand.

The trans-generational “Got Milk?” campaign of decades past was an ode to quenching the thirst associated with chocolate cake. America’s familiarity with the catchphrase may stand the test of time, yet the California Milk Processor Board wanted to adjust the tone on how milk can play a meaningful part in healthy futures aside from clearing peanut butter from the roof of your mouth.

“Brave” makes an effort to drive stronger sentimental value than any of CMPB’s previous efforts. This spot connects a bond from the occupational hazards that a firefighter meets on the job with their nostalgic nourishment beforehand. The human truth here is how milk promotes strength in many senses of the word and prepares the next generation for the upcoming obstacles of life. As families continue the pattern of health-consciousness, it remains to be seen if inspirational campaigns like this will return milk to its traditional throne on the breakfast table.

Smoking is terrible for your body. This shouldn’t be news to anyone, especially to smokers who are constantly reminded just how dangerous their vice (or addiction) is. From cigarette packs with health warnings to television PSA’s with regretful smokers speaking from a hole in their esophagus, there’s usually a medium through which the health message gets across.

However, modern and savvy media use platforms to not only provide some kind of value for an audience, but hopefully attempts to use the medium itself to magnify communication. M&C Saatchi Sydney recognized the potential to synthesize Vine’s brevity and smoking’s morbidity with a clear message for an Australian anti-tobacco charity. The repetition of pounding home this memorable statistic can be quite sobering.

By modern standards, Americans have become nearly desensitized to every tool, campaign, and ambition brought forth from the imaginations of ad executives. Familiarity with commercial concepts across all mediums of communication has brought audiences to the point of disdain for ads where they notice particular hidden motives. Criticism of physical appearances, possessions (or a lack thereof), and lifestyles are well-established approaches that many are uncomfortable with, or simply ignore. Approaches such as those did not appear spontaneously, as they have deep roots with the innovative brainstorming formed by ad agencies during the 1920s and 1930s. Roland Marchand explains in deep analysis how advertisements changed from mere details about a product into a phenomenon that promoted status and class, mass consumption, and a “personal” relationship between buyer and seller.

Due to the related combination of dramatic adjustments in technology and the rise of urbanity, people sought out an advisor to help reassure themselves of whatever incompetence they felt. These emotions opened an opportunity to create a new connection to consumers, one which they could be address on an individual basis, even if anxieties were widespread. Advertisers not only offered counsel, but they additionally suggested solutions to help cope with the evolving times; a conventional factor in their persuasion was to give dominant attention directed toward the consumer instead of the product itself. Ad executives foresaw (even fabricated, at times) dilemmas that would make consumers feel insecure, so they accordingly engaged potential buyers to improve their status or situation with their idea of an antidote.

Advertising The American Dream is essentially an encyclopedic source for understanding the developments from the timeframe in focus. The book contains several detailed investigations including the differences in gender depictions, the use of photography and art to stimulate interest, the importance of radio as a household commercial device, and the interweaving of entertainment with commercials. However, one of the more consistent themes is the introduction of intimate messages directed to consumers; Marchand elaborates on this groundbreaking progression by discussing how ads showed “average” Americans participating in everyday events and the creation of fictitious “common” characters that addressed readers informally. In addition, Marchand associates capturing the American dream with exploring new frontiers of urbanity along with emphasizing style, color, and sophistication as essential to realizing success. Of course, Marchand exposes the archetype for the American dream as dramatically exaggerated.

Marchand uses a colossal amount of sources to supplement his argument, which are not limited to newspaper articles, business reports, and surveys used to transport the reader into the thought process of the “guardians of uninterrupted progress”. However, the most powerful sources are the primary visual advertisements. Every section of the book contains ads that communicates exactly what Marchand is arguing; for instance, he includes ads from the Great Depression that portray people emerging from dark shadows and walking toward an illuminated location, symbolizing a journey from hard economic times to eventual prosperity. The basis for pushing inferiority complex parables onto consumers is also highlighted with the celebration of impossibly slim women and criticism of general hygiene. Examples provided by Marchand demonstrate the goals of past advertisers in comparison to current sales pitches, and although they may be seen as cliché by today’s standards, the psychological messages behind the visuals remain true.

Despite the immense strength that backs up the general thesis, a glaring weakness is discovering how advertisements had a lasting social impact on the average consumer. Marchand points out that buyers actually paid closer attention to ads for products they already purchased, and he discusses how ad men bought into their own evolution from businessmen to “missionaries of modernity”. However, there is little insight into if audiences were disgusted by, embraced, or felt neutral about the social undertones placed in ads. The reader understands that products were bought because of the presence of ads, but were the proposed social ideals adopted as well? This uncertainty is answered through some examples of other media channels, but there is a lack of a concrete answer to whether consumers completely understood the ads.

Modern day advertisements have obviously become more grand and flashier since the first third of the 20th century. Regardless of what audiences have historically observed, the question remains: do advertisers accurately reflect the zeitgeist of society, or do advertisers create an illusion as to what our culture’s goals should be? According to Marchand, it’s a distorted combination of both; either way, “people believe what they see”. Advertising The American Dream explains how the business world capitalized on a transition from a utilitarian, rustic society to a culture that was more self-indulgent and urban by promoting human experiences.

Since the parameters of agency and client expectations can sometimes dilute creative potential, it’s refreshing to see what art directors can envision with their pet projects. Complete with over-the-top Scandinavian enunciation, a Swedish creative named Castor put together a brilliant mockery of car advertising. Kudos go to Castor for translating his humorous personality toward his 1993 Volvo 245GL, or in other words, a “smooth cabin with a slick dash” with “340,000 circular bends”.

(via The Work of Castor)

“Preserve the love. Wear a condom.”

When the word “preserve” is used in a romantic context, it’s usually about sustaining a deep connection with someone and stretching that emotional bond indefinitely. However, there’s also an opportunity to apply that word with a bizarrely literal connotation.

Japanese photographer Hal did exactly that in collaboration with condom producer Condomania and Ogilvy & Mather Japan. As a unique way of expressing his vision of intimacy, Hal gathered couples to get naked and slide into plastic bags (which were then vacuum-sealed). Passionate couples often speak of wanting to exist as one soul, so Hal decided to take that notion to a heightened sensory level by bringing men and women together as close as physically possible. This project creates an illusion of bodies merging as one, and I can’t help but think of chicken thighs tightly sealed in the meat isle. 

(via Fast Company)

FCB Mayo (the agency’s Peruvian office) created a billboard with the help of the University of Engineering and Technology that essentially vacuums the harmful particles and elements that are byproducts of intense construction. Pollution is filtered through a water system, which then converts dangerous particles into over 100,000 cubic meters of breathable air. This technology can clean surrounding air with the same efficiency as 1,200 trees.

In step with other developing nations, Peru’s rapid infrastructure growth has resulted in consequences for public health and the environment. It’s one thing to talk about this issue, but it’s something completely different to creatively combat one of the planet’s most pressing problems on realistic, local level.

From AgencySpy:

“Putting our own ingenuity into action gives us great satisfaction, because in addition to the creative challenge it presents, it enables us to raise awareness, inspire and innovate in our work as advertising professionals,” added Juan Donalisio, creative director at FCB Mayo. “UTEC is a client that constantly challenges us, because its approach is not traditional. The university represents change. Therefore, its advertising does as well, and that makes us think about what is nearly impossible to do, in order to do it.”

There’s also the potential to kill two birds with one stone here: not only does this benefit the community, but if people can tangibly understand how science provides solutions, then it can galvanize students toward contributing even further in the long run.

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