2019: The Year in Ads so Far…

Warmer weather has finally arrived, and with the longer days comes the chance to reflect on the year in advertising so far. 2019 has been tumultuous for the UK, but we’ve already seen ad agencies and brands alike tune in to key moments in both pop culture and politics.

While this has meant a surge in advertising with a progressive, ethical focal point, it’s also caused an increase in both nostalgic campaigns and campaigns designed to give you the warm fuzzies (yes, that is the technical term). Here are a few of our favourites…

IKEA Recreates Iconic TV Sets

So no one told you life was gonna be marketed so cleverly… IKEA has done it again! This time, by taking visual blueprints of recognisable sets from popular TV shows, and replicating them in IKEA furniture. From the cosy living room which is home to that “we were on a break” scene, to a real-life rendering of The Simpson’s lounge, and the already-iconic alphabet wall from Stranger Things. While this campaign successfully showcases a variety of products – it’s not really about that. At its heart, it’s an ingenious way to demonstrate IKEA’s compatibility with pop culture, and make its marketing more meme-friendly.

Gillette Tackles Toxic Masculinity

The ad which launched a thousand angry tweets, Gillette’s The Best a Man Can Be campaign consisted of a short film, which was released post-#MeToo in January this year. In a little under two minutes, the brand encourages men to be better, to intervene when they witness sexism, and most importantly to be an active ally. In a sensitive climate, this was a risky move for Gillette, which has historically employed marketing tactics that connote “traditional” elements of masculinity – like strength. While the reception was certainly a mixed one (plenty of people on social media expressed the view that the brand had lost its integrity by people-pleasing), it got everyone talking about the changing face of gendered marketing.

British Airways Turns 100 with a Love Letter

To celebrate its centenary, British Airways went all in with a patriotic love letter to Great Britain, but it went further than a nod to our obsession with manners and habitual tea drinking. This ad celebrates the diversity of British culture; with drag queens, same-sex couples and immigrants all featured, BA used this opportunity to make a statement of inclusivity – much needed in the turbulent lead up to Brexit. There are some whopping celebrity cameos too, including Anthony Joshua, Ellie Simmonds, Gary Oldman and Oliva Coleman (who also acts as the central narrator). The result is surprisingly heart-warming, and might even make you feel slightly proud to be British.

Mothercare Gets Body Positive

Back in February, Mothercare teamed up with charities NCT and the PANDAS Foundation to launch a campaign called #BodyProudMums. This was designed to celebrate ‘the beauty of the post-birth body’ while shedding light on ‘a part of motherhood that is rarely portrayed in the media.’ This empowering effort included a series of testimonies from new mums, who shared the pressures they faced from a culture obsessed with ‘bouncing back’ after birth. Each mum also had a portrait taken where their natural post-partum bodies went unaltered; while small-scale, an ad campaign like this can be radical in its own way, by helping to normalise features like scars and stretch marks.

Carlsberg Confessions: Probably Not the Best Beer in the World

After forty years using the slogan ‘probably the best beer in the world’, Carlsberg recently made a rather humble U turn with the launch of a new Danish Pilsner. In the TV ad, brand ambassador Mads Mikkelsen says that in the UK, “Carlsberg pursued being the biggest, not the best, and the beer suffered.” Contrastingly, the new Danish beer is “rebrewed from head to heart.” While this reversal might seem counterintuitive, changing the direction of the brand is a clever way to catch people’s eyes while you introduce a new product.

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