You know when it’s the start of the year and every gobby Creative Director in PR says something along the lines of ‘this is the year of earned’? Well, this year – it might actually be true!
Earned creative has come out flying in 2024, to such an extent that this Stuntwatch will be moving away from its usual two-course meal approach to present you with a veritable smorgasbord of smashed out-of-the-park executions.
Calvin-Klein get everyone’s knickers in a twist
Normally, when a big package arrives in January, it’s because you used Evri to courier your Christmas presents – but this January, it was because Calvin Klein had some new underwear to sell. For reasons still not quite established, the revolutionary, never-seen-before approach of ‘put-sexy-man-in-a-pair-of-Calvin-Kleins’ got everyone’s knickers in a twist.
‘Where’s the story?!’ cried strategists. ‘This is genius!’ cried the publicists. Unsurprisingly for a leading man in a Hollywood series, Jeremy Allen White looks incredible in a pair of tighty-whiteys and, in performing a few callisthenics with a New York golden hour backdrop, unleashed a level of thirst one would normally associate Oxfam appeal campaigns.
There has been some spectacular chin-scratching about why this advert earned so much attention, the truth is one of the oldest truths in marketing. Sex sells, it always has, and it always will – we’ve just got a little sheepish in admitting it. So when a brand goes back to basics, or is this on-the-nose obvious – it catches us by surprise. BONK! Your subconscious is going to horny jail.
The use of an actor who plays an everyman and was set to have a great Golden Globes was clever tactical sprinklings, but the main thought here is as direct as a Dutchman. These are not pants with purpose or ‘beauty standards reimagined’, these are unashamedly sexy pants for sexy people. It’s on you to decide if you, or your partner, are sexy enough to wear them.
‘The Generation Gap’ for Australian Lamb, by Aussie ad-makers The Monkeys
This refreshing ‘on-the-nose’ creative is what makes my next pick so spectacularly brilliant but in an entirely different way. ‘The Generation Gap’ for Australian Lamb, by Aussie ad-makers The Monkeys, is a masterclass in calling it as it is creative.
For those that haven’t seen it, the ad depicts all the different age generations and their most recognisable societal tropes: Boomers with their torch lights on and cheap houses, Millennials with their rubbish words and kidulting lifestyles, Gen Z with their phones and stunted social skills. The groups argue, hurl insults at each other, the generation gap is widening, and then something magnificent happens, a lamb barbecue is lit.
At this point, the arguing stops and the generations come together – the message irresistibly simple…we all love lamb.
The content is well acted, there are a some delicious ‘Easter Egg’ details (keep an eye out for ‘The Fashion Police Station’), but the real magic of this creative is in that core, inarguable truth the client wants to be communicated – lamb is so good, it unites warring generations.
Like the Calvin Klein advert, there’s bravery in simplicity and single-mindedness. There’s no apologetic nod to the environmental impact of lamb farming, there’s no mitigating nod to vegans and vegetarians and the acknowledgement that age groups have never been more polarised is astute as well as amusing.
McDonald's at the darts
Continuing this trend, what do British people love? The darts. What do British people also love? McDonald’s. So, what would British people really love? Free McDonald’s at the darts.
The McDonald’s food truck has become to culture what the Coca-Cola van has become to Christmas. If it turns up where you’re at, where you’re at is where it’s at. So massive props to the team at The Red Consultancy and McDonald’s for being one of the only brands that realised the darts has that sort of cultural currency.
Normally reserved for festivals and Maya Jama birthdays, the McDonald’s truck was outside Ally Pally last week - serving up a double delight of free cheese melts and free fries to those dashing to the darts. Given the event’s status as one of the booziest bashes on the UK calendar, the provision of stomach lining could be viewed as a national service rather than skilful brand play, but it was very much the latter.
The people in attendance were surprised and delighted, the socials did great numbers and I became aware of the truck’s presence because several darts fans were wearing ‘Fancy a McDonald’s?’ Christmas hats on TV. McDonald’s are exceptionally good at positioning themselves as a ‘fabric of the nation’ brand, festive darts has become a national pastime – so why wouldn’t they be there? For many, the darts is a turn-off. It’s not aspirational, it’s all a bit too boozy and frivolous - McDonald’s ignored that bull to hit the bullseye.
If early January is the time for predictions – this is mine. We have enough bullshit in our lives. Misinformation, misdirection and mixed messages all add to it. More and more data points towards a consumer that has grown increasingly confused, overwhelmed and exhausted with brand communications – so let’s strip it back. Creative that sticks to simple truths, straightforward messaging and tells it at is will cut through the bull, not add to it.
2024 - Call it as it is creative.
Late Christmas deliveries
While 2024 has been the focus of this piece, there was a late Christmas landings that couldn’t be ignored.
Airports always have an emotional advantage at Christmas, but Tinman and Oh My! Creative’s Luton Airport wrapping service playfully played on a more practical problem.
Rather than tapping into the opening scene of Love Actually of soppy greetings at airports, they tapped into the famous Love Actually wrapping scene…because you should not wrap your Christmas presents if you’re going to the airport.
The content is enjoyable and the Rowan Atkinson lookalike is one of the better lookalikes on the scene, but the insight is what makes this one. I had no idea that if you wrap Christmas presents, they have to be unwrapped at airport security. That’s a genuine pain in the backside, so even if you didn’t end up using the wrapping service – you might have learnt something. Real problems get real coverage, so widespread coverage followed on the likes of GMB and ITV Anglia, as well as a strong spread online.
That’s officially a wrap on 2023.
This week's PR Stunt Watch was written by Greg Double, Creative Director at Mischief PR.
PR Stunt watch is a regular column on PRmoment. Subscribe to our editorial updates to get this feature every week.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.
We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: