n the last few weeks, I have seen more fantastic ads shared on social media than usual. I am a sucker for clickbait, so off I go, spending the inevitable three minutes on YouTube that I will never get back.
However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the genuineness and humanity that advertisers have been able to tap into in several of the ads out there. My two favorites are from two very different brands that are both doing what they do exceptionally well.
First, there is Mattel. In January of 2015, Time reported that the toymaker had seen three consecutive years of falling earnings, and that Barbie sales had dropped by a whopping 16% in 2014. “The reality is, we just didn’t sell enough Barbie dolls,” CEO Bryan Stockton told investors before resigning. Time gleefully attributed the demise of the doll to the “impossibly slim-body ideals she represents,” going into more detail here about the integration of new body types into marketing and advertising, an inherent rejection of Barbie’s plastic perfection.
Rather than 2015 being the year of waving goodbye to Barbie, though, this may be the year that advertising changes the way Barbie is branded. Their new ad is first of all, adorable, and shows little girls working as teachers, doctors, and businesswomen, before going home to play with their Barbies.
“We want to remind the world what Barbie stands for,” says Evelyn Mazzocco, global manager of Barbie. “Founded by a female entrepreneur and a mother in 1959, the Barbie brand has always represented the fact that women have choices. This ongoing initiative is designed to remind today’s parents that through the power of imagination, Barbie allows girls to explore their limitless potential.” The two-minute video counteracts every stereotype of Barbie that exists in a kind, subtle way.
On the other end of the spectrum, Extra Gum taps into something that is even a little more timeless in their new ad: “The Story of Sarah & Juan.” It’s a love story between a couple that is so heartwarming, I can barely stand it: “Each time Sarah gives Juan a stick of gum, Juan draws on the wrapper afterwards. It all comes together at the end, when Sarah is led to a private room to find that Juan had been saving these wrappers documenting their journey. In a romantic and private setting, Sarah finds one wrapper with a drawing of Juan proposing, only to turn around to Juan actually proposing.” Scrooge, the Grinch, and cranky people will not like this ad, but anyone who is ever experienced love will melt like an ice cube in July.
I saw both of these ads because my friends shared them on social media. Why did they share them? Because the ads tap into a larger narrative. Both brands insert themselves into timeless stories, issues that feel personal and that people care about, and sentiments that are globally appealing (female empowerment, love).
It is this type of creative insertion that really makes the difference when rebranding a product. I think that it is difficult to push customers beyond that fourth wall of advertiser/advertisee, but genuine, thoughtful content has the ability to do just that.
Image credit: CC by Eric