• Thinking

Coming off the fence.

Tony is our head of planning. He has a few thoughts about this year’s Christmas ads and whether they are doing enough.

Over the last few days in the office, we’ve been discussing the latest round of Christmas ads, trying to agree on which one is the best, which one makes you feel warm inside, or which one best captures the Christmas spirit (does the Christmas spirit exist in the real world?).

We started to take a look at what these ads are actually saying. What are they tapping into that’s really important? Last year we were able to talk about the ‘Man on the Moon’ and credit John Lewis with their support of an important cause. This year it seems there’s nothing much to report on that front.

Given the momentous events of the past 12 months, and the strong emotions they have produced, it seems like what we need most of all is something to make us all feel a bit better.  As someone posted on my Facebook feed the day Trump was elected: ‘The John Lewis ad had better be good.’

This year really has been like no other, with divisions appearing in society that are deeper than they’ve been in a generation. It feels like individuals and societies are retrenching in a frequently frightening way. And Trump hasn’t even taken office yet.

Against this troubled backdrop, a number of us at BJL have been really impressed with the new film from Airbnb, which preaches and pledges a commitment to acceptance of people of all races, genders, sexual orientation and religion, “without judgement or bias”.

This film feels potent because here is a brand that truly stands for something. ‘Belong anywhere’ is a promise it’s unequivocally committed to. In today’s social and political environment, this is a powerful position to take, in part because it’s not something everyone will agree with.

We know that one of the reasons Airbnb may have created this film is because of reports of discrimination amongst their members. This definitive response leaves you in no doubt where they stand and the broader context makes their position all the more resonant.

At BJL, our belief is that in today’s pressured world of marketing, it’s often too easy for brands to get lost reacting to everything going on around them. In that context, we believe that brands need to stand for something because then they can take on anything.

We work with brands to help them find their focus. Specifically we seek to identify, from all the pressures facing a brand, the enemy: the one factor that, if overcome, will have the greatest impact on the brand’s success. Understanding this is the route to articulating a Rally Cry that then informs all brand behaviours. The Rally Cry forms a focal point that will help a brand stand out and address the pressures it faces.

In today’s increasingly fractured society this Airbnb film made us realise just how important and impactful bravery, and specifically standing for something, can be.


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