Since the Pandemic “went viral” last year, brands have, almost universally, bollixed their advertising, shitting the intensive care bed again and again.
First came the tidal wave of WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER and WE’RE WITH YOU messages (often, those exact words), usually coupled with a “and here’s how we’re helping…making it easier for you to buy our product” kicker. Did you feel the empathy? The ads all felt the same because they were all the same. Consumers got sick of this bullshit real quick. Some brands even signed off by spacing the letters in their logos to promote “social distancing”. Always Be Branding, Baby!
Then when the Pandemic seemed to be easing, brands rushed out new “engines are restarting” (actual car commercial copy) ads. They celebrated the “resilience of the human spirit” (also, actual commercial copy). "Getting back out there?”, we’re here to help…with our products!
Then of course “Hot Vax Summer” predictably turned into “Over 1,000 dead Americans per day” Fall (currently up to over 1,500). Brands and their ad agencies have “circled back” into virtual corporate meeting rooms to figure out how they can fuck up the messaging again. Which they will, bet on it.
#1 Coke: For The Human Race
This two-minute, saccharine, cringe-copy letter-ad from May, 2020 ends with “thank you for filling the glass with kindness and hope”. Another copy pull: “For all the scare mongering, there’s care mongering”. That doesn’t make sense Coke, plus “mongering” is exactly the word you don’t want to use with “care”, you fake-sugar water monger. And look (below), they included obituaries, with the supered copy ”For every virus, there’s a vaccine of positivity”. An arm jab of thumbs up emojis isn’t going to bring back Peter, my dead dear best friend of 40 years. Fuck you, Coke. Ad agency: Dentsu, Malaysia. FYI: the song is “Superheroes” by Irish band The Script (terrible band name).
And yes, Coke included the ad cliche of the day in the YouTube comments. The many downvotes and negative comments have been scrubbed from the page, of course.
#2 Axe: Get AXEinated
I thought this was an “SNL” parody when it was released last June. AXEination! Sounds like Assassination! I wish I woulda been there for the “HEY AXE RHYMES WITH VAX!” light bulb moment. “Unsolicited VAXX PICS” (cheeky)…“But to get closer you also have to smell great.” That’s a fucking clunky tie-in, Axe. So sad to report young men/old boys/mooks of all ages, but Axe is out of AXEination Kits.
Let’s let Axe brand manager Mark Lodwick speak for his “Gen Z guys” (pre-teen boys):
"The pandemic disrupted life as our Gen Z guys knew it, leaving many anxious about getting back out there. So as a brand rooted in attraction, we saw a unique opportunity to play a role in encouraging vaccinations tied to this interesting and evolving dating moment. We want guys to get informed, get their shots and feel confident doing it, and if Axe can help along the way, even better."
Not surprisingly, #GetAXEinated went nowhere on Twitter. Ad Agency: LOLAmullenlowe, Spain.
#3 Suit Supply
Back in March, in anticipation of the Hot Vax Summer that wasn’t, Dutch men’s clothier Suit Supply posted this image (among other similar ones) on Twitter. Dude in the Suit Supply suit must be sweating buckets, his nether regions are going to be disgustingly swampy. (Maybe he “AXEinated” them?)
Via AdAge, Suit Supply CEO Fokke de Jong explains:
"People are looking to get out and about again. Parallels to the Roaring 20's are being drawn on a regular basis (…) The campaign is simply a positive outlook on our future where people can get back to gathering and getting close."
I’m online too much every fucking day, and I’ve seen exactly zero parallels to the “Roaring 20’s” being drawn or written during this worldwide catastrophe. And: “simply a positive outlook”? No, It’s a carefully art-directed orgy presented for trigger- and shock-value. Except in 2021, this is not at all shocking; It’s a cheap hackneyed stunt.
NOTE: Suit supply is known for their sexist and even misogynistic ads.
Early September last year, British disinfectant brand Dettol, in a partnership with Transport of London, placed these wordy posters in the London Tube. The campaign, “celebrating” returns to offices, was their version of “we’re with you”. It went over like a Lead Zeppelin.
Reading about a banal work day while on your way to and from a banal work day is just a stupid depressing idea. An improvement would have been to make it less predictable and more specific, like: “Taking a shit next to douchebag Jerry”; or, “Sally’s gag-inducing perfume”, etc.
Even worse: reading about your soul-numbing commute during your soul-numbing commute. Again, more specific would have been better: “Fingering the knife in your pocket”; “Laughing out loud uncontrollably for five minutes for no reason”, etc.
#5 Betty Crocker: No Blow Candle
And the winner for the most useless Pandemic Product is Betty Crocker and their idiotic “No Blow” Candle, “a sound-activated, interactive LED candle that listens to your celebrations and reacts with lighting.” How bout just stand away from the kid when he/she blows out his/her birthday cake candle(s). A better use for the thing would be for your husband’s/boyfriend’s birthday, to let him know that nothing will be “going down” later on in the bedroom.
The No Blow is a No Go: Though the video was released in June, the candle is still “at a prototype stage”. Apparently, not enough people have shown interest. That’s surprising, SAYS NOBODY. Ad Agency: Virtue, UK.
They all Cuckoo for CoCo Puffs!!!
You know if they just repackaged the “candle”, put it in a different industry, taken off the logo and changed the strategy it still could work. Human candle anyone??