As I have watched the various political machinations play out and pondered as a fierce anger rises from the electorate, I began to wonder how the advertising community would respond to such seething fury unleashed. Voters are consumers too, right? Is their shopper-eyed view of the marketplace as outraged? Will we see that “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” rage be coupled with an “I no longer want cheap goods at any cost, since I’m good and angry that my job has been shipped overseas” and a “screw political correctness: I want the 50s back” world view. Quite a complex caldron of consumer sentiments to usher into a palatable stew.
Remember the charm of the Cheerios commercial that showcased an interracial couple and their daughter? That ‘post-racial’ moment seems antiquated now. Or maybe it always was, given the vitriol that followed on social media. Remember the guy couple returning home from somewhere with their baby girl? Everybody so very happy to welcome them and celebrate their ‘post-modern’ family? The brave new world of today’s (not retro) reality-based marketing.
Seems there’s a new, new reality emerging. Two recent ads may serve as the canaries in the coal mine of the nouveau safe yet somewhat evocative gestalt.
Chase starts us off with what looks to be a cross-dressing, albeit bearded fellow suiting up in a princess gown, wig, make-up and wand. Oh-oh. But then, whoosh! It turns out he’s just a great Dad! Phew. Making his daughter and her neighborhood sister princesses react first in shock and then awe at what a great guy he is, before transitioning from one hug to the next, this time in the bank’s environs. No need to worry: He’s a real man taking care of his daughter’s financial future. So we’re free to chortle. We’ve been on a ride.
Then, there’s the new Audi ‘coming out’ ad. Nervous, seemingly worried youngish man in this father’s study, explaining he’s always been different (but ‘not THAT different,’ the father opines). Turns out the guy needs to escape his father’s BMW heritage and create his own legacy. Exhale: It’s about wanting to drive a different brand of luxury car, suggesting that brand transformation comes with the merest dollop of consumer transgression.
Welcome to the new edgy.