Marching Toward Culturally Relevant Advertising

Today I went to the Women’s March with a friend and Hugo, his black lab puppy. Hugo had a sign on his back, “The Future Is Bitches”. I kept joking that so many people were taking Hugo’s photograph he would be on the cover of tomorrow’s Times.

On the way to the March, which started by Trump Tower near Central Park, I noticed a few impressive examples of contextual advertising – two digital, one in-store, one on a bus wrapper. The first two were on those Link NYC stations where you can charge your phone, under a digital billboard with ads that change every few seconds. (My phone had died, so no pics…whoops!)

Spotify promoted a Feminist Friday Playlist by the Resistance Revival Chorus, a group of women singing protest songs, with “album art” featuring a black and white photograph of women against a white background with hot pink typography — the colors of the Women’s March. As I made my way to the March, I wished my phone was alive so I could tune into these jams and get even more in the mood.

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Next, I encountered a highly appropriate placement of the NYTimes’s “Truth Is Hard” campaign, with its iconic gothic typography against a clean white background. Of course, the march itself was full of clever messages and signs, summarized by “Grab Him By The Midterms” – a call to action to register and vote in the November midterm elections.

Truth is hard NYTimes ad

After the March, a bus drove by, with a bold purple Jet.com wrapper and a provocative statement, Set the table for discussions about politics”featuring kitchenware available on the e-tailer site. This kind of honesty is not typically seen outside of Superbowl TV ads.

Finally, the Lululemon store on Broadway had posters up in their windows proclaiming their support for the Women’s March. They even offered free coffee, for marchers to recharge. The brand posted their support on Facebook earlier in the day.

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Cultural Relevance Sells

These are four examples of compelling advertising. They’re culturally and contextually relevant. This type of marketing is good for business and consumers, as it offers something deeper than a promotional message; it offers a point of view.

But…this is only possible by brave, purpose-led brands with a sense of identity and a values system that guides branding and communications decisions. Actually, you could criticize Lululemon for inauthentically hopping on a bandwagon to course correct damage done following derogatory statements about women’s bodies, by their controversial former CEO.

As the Superbowl draws near, we’ll see more brands putting politics and gender at the forefront. It’s up to consumers to detect whose doing it from a place of truth, and who’s simply producing lip service.

 

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