McEnroe vs. McEnroe, ‘Mother’s Ruin’ from Aviation Gin, Mother’s Day ads and more: creative ads of the week

Advertising competes for our attention. We tend to ignore it as we have more important issues occupying our minds. Add to it the general clutter of media and we have to appreciate creative ads which get noticed and stay memorable. My weekly compilation of clutter breaking creative ads is a small tribute to such efforts. Here are a few creative ideas which caught my eye this past week:

Michelob Ultra: McEnroe vs McEnroe

Tennis fans of a certain vintage will recall that John McEnroe in his prime was known for his outbursts and meltdowns. He was nicknamed ‘Super Brat’ and was known to pick fights with officials. A new campaign from Michelob harks back to that image cleverly tying it with the brand proposition of ‘It’s not worth it if you don’t enjoy it’ by claiming that ‘he forgot to enjoy himself’ when behaving like that. So the idea is have him play again against an avatar of himself using artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic ball-return technology. But beyond just the idea what I liked about it was the scale of imagination: there’s even 45-minute live telecast planned on ESPN.

Agency: FCB New York. Read more on the project here.

It seems to be an extension of a relatable theme on the importance of enjoying what one does – especially in sports. The brand put out a campaign recently in Mexico, acknowledging the impact of the ‘pressure to win’ on mental health.

Unacademy: my first ‘academy’

I don’t envy the position marketers & agencies are in: the repercussions of not doing any activity on occasions such as Mother’s Day must be so severe that the notion is not even encouraged perhaps. For some brands, a ‘thematic’ ad associating with the right occasion may make business sense. In that context, ‘mom as a teacher’ is an idea that fits with a brand such as Unacademy, a ‘learning brand’. The hashtag and the inclusion of ‘academy’ in it seems a bit forced but the ad captures the right emotions and has some great performances.

I wonder if the brand undertakes other communication activity too which are more product and features based. Their previous theme campaigns too were based on higher order benefits as can be seen here, here and here.

PregaNews: #SheIsImperfectlyPerfect

Success creates it own set of expectations and pressure. Prega News, the pregnancy test brand has built a reputation for producing viral hits on the occasion of Mother’s Day. While there’s no saying what will go viral, one can appreciate why this ad has become a WhatsApp forward (a good indicator of an ad’s popularity) because it connects with women from all backgrounds and class of society: it is anchored on a universal truth. There are unreal expectations from women in the role of a mother and popular culture has played along to portray the image of a ‘super woman’ who fulfils every role perfectly. A message which urges us all to accept mothers as they are without imposing an unreal expectation touches a chord. It is also nice to see the ad industry poke fun at themselves.

Agency: SG Dream Media

Barilla: pasta is born again

In its 145th year, Barilla has brought a pasta variant which it claims to offer a brand-new experience. That ‘brand new’ aspect is given a twist as ‘born again’ and linked to an inter-galactic experience of new life being born. It’s visually dramatic – a necessity in food advertising . It reminded me of ads from Lupark butter which also had dramatic food shots.

Agency: Publicis

B&Q: upside down

We often use the phrase ‘world was turned upside down’ when referring to major life events such as an arrival of a new born or shift to a new city for work and such like. That phrase is literally represented with an actual home flipping over in a mind-bender of an ad to cue how easy it to adapt to change in one’s life with B&Q, a DIY brand.

Agency: Uncommon

Tanishq: the interview

It’s Mother’s Day season in ad land. In the sea of sameness there are a few which break the clutter. Here’s one such from jewellery brand Tanishq, with a lovely creative idea at the centre (you’d be surprised how advertising still relies on production values and not an idea for ad to be noticed): juxtaposing typical interview talk with the role of motherhood. Having said that, the ‘role’ of the brand in the situation and the messaging is tenuous. Nevertheless, it is an engaging film with some great copywriting (‘bootcamp in leadership) which has not only been noticed but shared widely on platforms such as LinkedIn – job well done, I guess (no pun intended).

Agency: Talented




Savlon: keep calm and trust in montage

In India it is common to use one’s hands to eat (instead of cutlery) – our cuisines are meant to be relished that way. In the context of the post-pandemic world that’s an opportunity for a disinfectant brand to put out communication highlighting the need for hand hygiene. In a diverse country such as India, brands have used the visual montage route effectively to cue popularity or simply show representation across various demographics. It works well in this case highlighting the many ways in which we devour or relish food.

Agency: Ogilvy

Nivea: strength in numbers

50% of mental health problems begin before the age of 14‘ – this statistic forms the base of an engaging film highlighting the importance of mental health. It features members of Liverpool FC U8 academy and kids from local schools reciting lines from the Liverpool FC song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. The ‘deep’ lines juxtaposed by visuals of small kids keeps the viewer engaged and drives home the message.

Agency: Digitas

Aviation Gin: Mother’s Ruin Punch

With Maximum Effort and Ryan Reynolds is there anything not to like? In my book, they have a body of envious work which is not just creative for the sake of it – but relevant and strategic to the brand. Aviation Gin, a brand owned by Ryan and then sold to Diageo continues to produce entertaining work anchored on the product. For Mother’s Day, here’s a cocktail recipe with the key ingredient being how mother’s typically behave with their sons – loved it.

Agency: Maximum Effort

Marmite: Truffle – oh so posh

Marmite’s advertising is anchored on the ‘Love it or hate it’ property emanating from the product’s polarising taste. The brand team deserves kudos for being consistent with the messaging and yet keeping it refreshed – not to set creative fatigue in. They have demonstrated it to suit various business objectives and variants of Marmite (e.g. highlighting the strong taste with the chilli variant). Now for the ‘truffle’ variant they have devised a charming angle of it being posh and hence very ‘upper crust’ – as reflected in the twist to the original ‘love it or hate it’ expression. Very proper, is it not?

Agency: adam&eveDDB

Pfizer: visible emergency

An ambulance with transparent walls drove through the streets of Mexico City to to raise awareness and encourage vaccination against respiratory diseases. Such stunts may be actually seen by a few thousands but the vitality of the news is what creates the larger impact.

Agency: Ogilvy

Heineken: great drivers

I am no fan of F1 so I really couldn’t feel the excitement but it feels right: ‘With the help of great drivers, McLaren F1 Driver Daniel Ricciardo and Oracle Red Bull Racing F1 Driver Sergio Pérez, we want to empower consumers to make the right choice to never drive any vehicle if they have had anything to drink.’ It is common knowledge that a sense of false bravado sets in after alcohol consumption and drunk driving leads to accidents & deaths.

Corona: billboard

To drive home the ‘made from natural ingredients’ story, Corona beer set up a billboard in Brighton where the foliage creates a shadow from the sun’s reflection, revealing the brand message (pretty similar to what BBC did for their Dracula show).

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy

Sky: The Staircase

Here’s an ad which has everything going for it: it is unmissable, has clever use of the ‘context’ (in this case the print space), is relevant (as it is for ‘The Staircase’ a new web series) and overall charming.

UpGrad: Blockchain Kiran

Some of the best advertising happens as a result of the ‘so what?’ question or other ‘benefit laddering’ techniques. In the corporate world, upskilling is considered a must and a few specialist roles have become ‘sought after’. A ‘full-stack engineer’ is one such role. There is a huge demand for skilled talent in emerging technologies such as blockchain, Web 3.0 and machine learning. This development (pardon the pun) is presented as ‘with such skills you will be the most important person in the office’. Which of course leads to the next ‘so what?’ question which is answered in a humorous manner.

Agency: The Womb

Coors Light: roof tops that chill

Black colour is not considered suitable for summer. So the flat black roofs of several building in Miami got a coat of white, converting them into ‘chillboards’ as they lowered the temperatures inside the building.

Agency: DDB

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.

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