Hilarious @AeroMexico, controversial @Gillette and more: creative ads of the week

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Last week much of traditional media, marketing & advertising trade portals and of course, Twitter was abuzz with discussions on a new ad from Gillette. A few others too caught my eye which are featured here:

AeroMexico: DNA discount

As a tourist destination, how do you sway the opinion of consumers who swear they will never buy your ‘brand’? Mexico faces this unique challenge from a section of consumers in Texas, USA who claimed they would never travel to that country. In a clever strategy, AeroMexico decided to share results of DNA tests with such consumers and offered a discount matching the percentage of how ‘Mexican’ they were. So if someone was 30% Mexican they would qualify for a 30% discount. It was hilarious to see the volte face of consumers before and after the offer. Unlike other such stunt videos, the interviews and reactions seemed genuine and not staged.

Agency: Ogilvy

Recently Qantas offered another kind of incentive to Americans who wish to travel to Australia.

Gillette: The Best Men Can Be

Early last week Gillette released a new ad which soon became a topic of discussion across Twitter and traditional media. In case you missed the ad, here it is:

Agency: Grey

Among the many commentaries, some good reads here, here, here and here. As you can see the sentiment is divided with most taking a dislike to either the strategy or the execution. The crux of the arguments are:

  • brands should not be preachy in their advertising especially on topics which are likely to alienate the core audience
  • berating your core consumers is not a good strategy, hence the execution was wrong
  • steering clear of taking a position which is likely to create polarised opinion is a wiser option for brands

Here are my views on the campaign:

Gillette operates in a low involvement category. Traditionally the brand has managed to charge and get a huge premium for their razors based largely on incremental product features – viz. extra blades. Most of their ads were simply highlighting the features and hardly engaging. Their property, ‘The best a man can get‘ is one of the most memorable taglines ever – it is at once describing their own product (tad inward looking perhaps) yet aspirational and a call to be the best one can be. The brand has ventured into an emotional space in the past too, presenting a do-good & be-good dimension of their tagline. In 2017, they created this touching film of a son taking care of of his elderly father thanks to their ‘assisted shaving’ razor. So it is natural for the brand to elevate the messaging and anchor it on something which is likely to evoke an emotional response. In that process the aim is to imbue the brand with more affinity.

As far as brands suggesting in their advertising that their consumer’s lives are somehow incomplete or faulty, examples abound. ‘Do more’, ‘be more’ and variations thereof are dime a dozen across categories. In women’s fashion and beauty brands such characterisation is common. In my view, a male grooming brand suggesting that its core consumers be decent blokes (especially in the context of the ‘Me Too’ movement and the kind of behaviour that came to light) is not such an outrageous thing to suggest. I saw it as a natural progression of their famous tagline. The reaction is a reflection of the times we live in – there is no telling what can cause a debate or outrage. A picture of an egg can become the most liked post on Instagram; the world can be divided over the colour of a dress…and so on. So everyone’s reaction is visible and if it is from a celebrity it is likely to be amplified. In Gillette’s case, several celebrities (Piers Morgan, Ricky Gervais to name a couple) dissed the approach. Even among the regular folk, there are more people disliking the ad than liking it going by the social media counts of such. I think it take guts to invest behind such a message knowing full well that there will be backlash. In my view, it is a step in the right direction both from a strategy and execution point of view. It has managed to put the spotlight back on to the topic which has disappered from the news cycle.

Many have also predicted that this will impact their sales negatively as it is likely to make the core consumer upset. Such an argument was also put forth after Nike’s ad starring Colin Kaepernick. It is odd such statements are made with certainty in a profession where nothing is guaranteed. There is no telling if a marketing ‘package’ will work for sure or not. Consumers switch or disown their regular brands for various reasons: product quality, cheaper and equally good (in whatever yardstick: product performance, brand equity etc.) options, poor customer service and so on. In Gillette’s case, competiton has arrived in many forms – cheaper and equally ‘attractive’ brands (e.g. Dollar Shave Club and others) and trends (fads?) like beards. Recently, the Indian cricket team which has several stars sporting & grooming beards won a tournament in Australia which was sponsored by Gillette! It remains to be seen if large number of people would abandon their habitual brand purchase because an ad pissed them off – metrics like online brand sentiment and number of likes are just vanity metrics.

Volkswagen Night Vision print ad

It is always nice to see innovative use of a medium where the idea is hardwired to the product benefit. In Sweden, Volkswagen ran a print ad which showed different copy (and a completely different story) in daylight as opposed to in the dark. The idea? Dramatise the night vision capabilities of Volkswagen.

Agency: Nord DDB

Uri: surgical strike on piracy

Video piracy is common in India. The film industry potentially loses millions in box office collections if piracy thrives. In order to tackle this the marketing team behind a new film called URI came up with this clever idea. Since the movie was based on a military attack, commonly referred to as surgical strike they decided to extend the flavour with a ‘strike’ of their own. When someone downloads the movie via a torrent site they saw this, instead of the film.

Agency: Dentsu Webchutney

Birla Aerocon Pipes: Naam

Here’s an ad released in November 2018. I just happened to see it this week and thought it was worth sharing. The premise? In Hindi it is common for someone to accept a challenge or task with an idiom, ‘If this does not happen I will change my name’. This simple observation is linked to a gent who fixes poor quality water pipes and assures customers with ‘if anything happens I will change my name’. And that’s the mystery behind his ever changing name and a segue to the brand promise. Loved it.

Agency: Ogilvy

Tokyo FM: the voice of Tokyo

This too is an old campaign which seems to have won a few wards. I came across this in Ogilvy’s Twitter feed and what struck me immediately was the visual impact. Even in a cluttered environment like a Twitter timeline this stood out. The attempt was to portray Tokyo FM as the voice of love, art, food, seasons, culture, and travel.

See more here.

Which one was your favourite? Your views on Gillette? Do comment in.

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  1. Nazia Tariq Reply

    I love the Birla ad, its perfect! The tokyo FM was not relatable to be, I just thought the art detail on the lips are cool. Gillette ad – i LOVE it, its so meant to be exactly what it is, I have a whole debate going on about it on my facebook wall. I am curious to see the affects of this on their sales but personally think men wont be really able to boycott gillette.

  2. Rubina Guleria Reply

    Loved the insightful commentary and thank you for sharing. I thought the Gillette adv was fantastic in being able to shift the conversation to our homes. Suppose we will wait and see if its consumers felt as good for being called out!

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