Over the last year, we’ve seen brands of all shapes and sizes struggle with whether or not to wade into the cornucopia of social and political debates, dilemmas, controversies, and clusterf**ks happening at any given moment. This week, two major brands took an impressive swing at the current political climate. First was HSBC in Britain, which subtly swiped at Brexiters with a fun, friendly celebration of the U.K.’s diversity and the strength of it in business. Then KFC in the U.K. and Ireland tweeted its own hilariously absurd version of President Trump’s horrifically absurd nuclear tweet taunt of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Yes, that last sentence is enough to inspire us all to just throw a blanket over our heads and dive into a giant “failure pile in a sadness bowl.” Onward!
HSBC “Global Citizen”
What: In a slight swipe at isolationism, this new ad cheekily celebrates the global economy.
Who: HSBC, J. Walter Thompson London
Why we care: Maybe it’s the friendly, fun demeanor of comedian Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd), or perhaps it’s the middle-finger-with-a-smile to isolationist nationalism, but I thought this spot was charming as hell.
KFC “Ronald tweet”
McDonald’s leader Ronald just stated he has a “burger on his desk at all times”. Will someone from his big shoed, red nosed regime inform him that I too have a burger on my desk, but mine is a box meal which is bigger and more powerful than his, and mine has gravy! #nuclearbutton
— KFC UK & Ireland (@KFC_UKI) January 3, 2018
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
What: A tweet in which KFC U.K. & Ireland subs in Ronald McDonald for Kim Jong-un, making fun of President Trump’s nuclear tweet at the North Korean leader.
Who: KFC U.K. & Ireland
Why we care: As I said earlier this week, this is the Brand Twitter version of the ol’ Abe Lincoln quote, “I laugh because I must not cry.” When the nuclear apocalypse might come down to a string of glorified playground taunts, maybe the best commercial response is turn that absurdity into a fight between a fictional burger clown mascot and a long-dead fried chicken magnate.
Netflix “Black Mirror: Happy New Year”
What: An all-too real trailer for the new season of Black Mirror on Netflix.
Who: Netflix, B-Reel
Why we care: If the first week of the new year is all about hope and possibility, then Black Mirror is here to remind us of the impending (or already here) depressing digital societal hellscape that will no doubt consume us all. Binge-watch!
Bundesliga “The Loyalty Test”
What: The top soccer league in Germany tests the loyalty of some of its biggest fans.
Who: Bundesliga, Duval Guillaume
Why we care: You don’t have to be a soccer fan to recognize the emotional ties people have to sports and specific teams. Here, the Bundesliga–Germany’s top soccer league, and one of the biggest in the world–marks the January transfer window, a time when players are bought and sold between teams, in unique fashion. One major complaint of modern soccer fans is the lack of loyalty in the billion-dollar business of global soccer, so here some of Germany’s biggest fans are tempted to switch allegiances the same way players are: because of money. The results are heartwarming to any sports devotee.
What: A ridiculous start to IHOP’s 60th anniversary year to promote its limited All You Can Eat Pancakes offer.
Who: IHOP, Droga5
Why we care: Advertising has become a very complicated pancake, but sometimes an idiotically silly ode to pancakes is the way to pancake.