Last Tuesday, 6 am.
RJ, my 7-month old so and I have a morning ritual. His mum places him on my tummy, he then proceeds to pull on my beard to wake me up.
I wake up, lovingly pick him up as I’m lying on my back, bring him to my face and whisper;
“…love of my life, what do you want?”.
Normally this is met with a giggle, he enjoys it. However, on this particular morning, this played out a little differently.
“>Me: “Coochy- coo… love of my life, what do you want?”
RJ: “Father, here is all the saliva in my body. It will look better on your face”
Okay, he didn’t actually say that before spewing half a gallon of saliva on my face, I’m just convinced he thought it before doing so.
Same morning, 8 am.
As I made my way to work, I realized the dynamic between my son and I is similar to that of a brand communication agency and its audience.
The brand communication agency goes out of its way to show love to its audience/client through well-thought through strategies and ultimately entertaining content only for the audience/client to…well…spit on their faces.
The recent debacle with the Pepsi-Kendal Jenner ad, as much as it was a train-wreck, is a case study I found particularly interesting; mainly because I’m a huge fan of all Kardashians and their dark powers. They are famous for being famous, that’s genius level sorcery if you ask me.
Anyway, most of the outrage was directed towards the brand but much so towards the brains behind the ad. It came to light that Pepsi has a dedicated in-house agency. I imagine the intention is to minimize costs but to also have a team that lives the brand 24/7.
From the many articles and official press releases I read around this disaster, it was clear Pepsi wanted it known who exactly was to blame for this fiasco.
Take this exempt from an AdAge article for example;
“Pepsi used an in-house shop, which in the eyes of many led to the marketing mishap. The criticism was particularly sharp on a Reddit thread dedicated to the ad. “In-house just doesn’t cut it, as there are too few people in the chain saying ‘no.’ Advertisers clearly don’t have the self-discipline,” a self-described creative from New York stated. “In-house creative directors are jaded, tired old-timers who simply want to get paid and go home.”
–Ad Age, April 07, 2017
Moral of the story
I am sure the in-house agency did amazing work before this campaign.
As always, the world will whisper your accomplishments and scream out your failures, that’s just how the world works. The client and the audience crucified the team simply because the world needed a devil to blame.
I have to come to understand the uncertainty of presenting or executing an idea. Everything exists in context, and when that context is altered or client asks for a compromise, the original idea takes a totally different trajectory and in some unfortunate instances it ends up with a Kardashian holding a Pepsi can.
I’d like to applaud all those who work in any creative field. It takes a lot of heart to do what you do. Some of your work will be hits; some will get you hit in the face…with a chair…or a gallon of saliva.
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
By Mark Wahome