See, sometimes brands can get it right. Like, really right. Like, let’s crack open a Heineken and talk about it right. Right? The past few weeks seem to have been custom designed to leave brands so bloodied and bruised, they look like they just got bumped from a United flight. Heyooh. All the hubris (Pepsi!), ol’ fashioned core audience alienation (Shea Moisture!), and well . . . physical violence coupled with tone-deaf response (Guess who!), brought into sharp focus the challenges in brand relationships with culture–how they attempt to reflect it, influence it, or are forced to confront it. And then along comes Heineken. Onward!
Heineken “Worlds Apart”
What: An experiment to illustrate that, despite our differences in social and political opinions, it’s best to chat about it all over a beer.
Who: Heineken, Publicis London
Why We Care: If you read that description you know immediately this could’ve gone horribly wrong. At best, a great idea that comes across forced and awkward. At worst, the brand looks like a culture tourist, crassly slapping a logo on a profound cultural issue. This was neither, and it was pretty awesome.
Ikea “How to identify an original Ikea Frakta bag”
What: A fun response ad to French fashion house Balenciaga unveiling a new leather bag that looks strikingly like Ikea’s iconic blue shopping bag, but cost $2,144 more than the Swedish retailer’s.
Who: Ikea, Acne/Ikea Creative Hub
Why We Care: Brand cheekiness at its best. How can you not laugh at a $2,145 bag that’s the spitting image of its 99-cent inspiration?
Nespresso “Comin’ Home”
What: Nespresso answers the age-old question of what it would’ve been like to see George Clooney in classic flicks like Psycho; Easy Rider; The Muppets Movie; Seabiscuit; and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Who: Nespresso, McCann Erickson
Why We Care: Here’s an ad that’s so transparently revels in its own gimmick that it’s practically unbearable. And yet, somehow the combination of Clooney’s inherent Clooneyness, and the chosen movies and scenes, it can’t help but be charming as all hell. Dammit.
What: A reminder from the streaming service that everyone has their own emotional connection to music. Even your mom.
Why We Care: It’s not the first time Savage Garden’s declaration of love has been used in an ad–remember the greatest Valentine’s Day sports ad ever?–but here it’s hilariously utilized to sell Spotify’s family plan. Obviously inspired by HBO’s amazing 2014 “Awkward Family Viewing” campaign, it’s an admirable audio nod to its predecessor.
What: A reminder from StubHub, of all places, that in the dystopian future of the machine apocalypse, you may have some regrets.
Who: StubHub,Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Why We Care: Look, we all know the new machine age is coming. I mean, many of us are actually hoping it will get here sooner rather than later. But here StubHub goes completely off the rails with an unexpectedly funny take on its product. We all have our own version of Sia. For the love of AI, go do it before it’s too late.