Tag Archives: christmas ads

Curse Marketing: When It Is Ok for Brands To Give A F*ck

The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.
– George Washington

Well, merry f*cking Christmas to you George as well.

I´ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that´s bullshit
– Mel Brooks

Using profanity is part of your verbal excellence. Swearing isn´t bad language. Swearing is essential language. Right curse word at the right time can amplify your point and elevate your message. Of course you have to be selective when you use those filthy words. Just like too much salt can ruin your meal, too much profanity makes your message harder to swallow. If your dropping F-Bombs all the time, they start to resemble more aerial shells and don´t really explode. NWA was able to shock the world by their explicit language, but f-words in popular songs are just white noise.

Obscenity is a notable enhancer of life and is suppressed at grave peril to the arts
– Brendan Gill

I try to use curse words sparingly, only occasionally to illustrate and underline my message. The only expectation is sports, when my language resembles a pirate, who has just lost his peg leg. My only saving grace is my weird native language, so majority of people do not know what I am shouting in Finnish in basketball court. It has actually been studied that swearing has positive health consequences and helps to relieve pain.

Vulgarity is the garlic in the salad of life.
– Cyril Connolly

Brands have also experimented with profanity and obscene language. Sometimes it does not work, but below are certain examples when it makes total commercial sense as well:

1. Thug Kitchen´s use of profanity is a smart strategic decision. When talking about healthy eating and especially vegan diet, you might start to think about hippies, flower power and softness. The image might prevent especially male audience in turning to healthier diet. For some reason steaks are more masculine than quinoa crops. By the choice of strong language, Thug Kitchen illustrates that there is nothing weak in eating healthy and cooking healthy food. Their mission statement gives a good lowdown on what they believe with only slight bit of profanity to spice things up:

This site is here to help your narrow dietary mind explore some goddamn options so that you can look and feel like a fucking champ. We hope readers reconsider what kind of behaviors they attribute to people who try to eat healthy. Everyone deserves to feel a part of our push toward a healthier diet, not just people with disposable incomes who speak a certain way. So we’re here to help cut through the bullshit. Promoting accessibility and community are important as fuck here at Thug Kitchen. We’ve got a big table and everyone is welcome to it.

What I´m saying might be profane, but it´s also profound.
-Richard Pryor

2. FCKH8.com sells t-shirts to fight for pro-LGBT equality and against racism and sexism. To promote their pro-feminism line, they had girls cursing against sexism. There is naturally the shock factor, but again using profanity has a clear purpose in this ad. For some reason cursing is more accepted for male than female. That is one small demonstration of the double standards existing in our society. By using strong language the brand turns the focus to real problems in our society:

Potty-Mouthed Princesses Drop F-Bombs for Feminism by FCKH8.com from FCKH8.com on Vimeo.

Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself
– Dick Cavett

3. The above examples are from less traditional brands, using profanity is not only limited to underdog brands. If using of profanity helps you to illustrate your point more vividly, almost every brand can use it. If you are family brand or your target audience consists of prudes, I would advise not to use profanity, though. On the other hand, if toothpaste brand can get away with it probably your brand can as well. The latest Oral-B ad uses cursing (with bleeps, but it does not left anything to imagination) as a way to demonstrate the Christmas stress we all are experiencing this time a year:

Sometimes the best way to demonstrate that you give a damn is to actually say damn. Or even something stronger.

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Anatomy of An Insight: The Hoop

Mulberry has done the best Christmas ad as it strikes just the right chord with its take on the Christmas materialism. More on a tearjerker side, this ad really made me emotional. Either it is because of my eternal love of basketball, reminiscing my grandfather building me a basketball backboard or thinking about my goddaughter getting older; this ad from Dick´s Sporting Goods really lifted my holiday spirit.

Insight: Best gifts might change your life, both for the giver and receiver.

I remember when I got my first proper running shoes (Nike, of course), Snoop´s first album, first great dinner in proper fine-dining restaurant or a 10-time card for hot yoga. These gifts nudged me to certain direction in life and also strengthened the passion I have for the best things in life (sports, hiphop, food). I am eternally grateful for those gifts. They are also great demonstration on how things make you happy. If they don´t, you just are not getting the right things.

In this ad, the hoop serves as a metaphor for the relationship of father and daughter and how basketball is the glue between them. Right gift at the right time can help to retain the relationship and also elevate it to the next level.

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Anatomy of An Insight: Mulberry #WinChristmas

“The worst gift I was given is when I got out of rehab that Christmas; a bottle of wine. It was delicious.”
-Craig Ferguson

While John Lewis and Coke do the sentimental sugarcoated Christmas ads, it is Mulberry who does the most authentic and snarky Christmas ad. It is done by adam&eve, who have also done the John Lewis ads. This is a great manifestation that great agencies are not just one-trick ponies (or unicorns):

Insight: Christmas is a material holiday.

Yes, there is some religious aspect to it for those who are into those things.
Yes, it is nice to spend time with your family
Yes, it is awesome to eat all those weird Christmas foods you would not eat any other time of the year.

But, at the end of the day, the Christmas is about presents. It is unadulterated celebration of capitalism and consumption. Forget all “the thought behind the gift is what counts” –bullshit, the greatest gifts are well-known brands with good resale value. Actually based on the studies people appreciate more presents they have asked for instead of surprises. Like my good friend summarized it couple of Christmas ago:

“This year we should buy some proper presents and not any of those self-made ones”

 I have once bought Mulberry bag as a present and I have probably never gotten such a good response for a gift. Not even when I tried to top it up next year with unicorn.

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