Thursday, June 23, 2016

#canneslions bronze winner for Bayer makes fun of consent

I first saw this ad on Twitter, shared by marketer Cindy Gallop, with the comment "Don't use this to sell aspirin, male-dominated ad industry, & don't award it, male-dominated juries. #canneslions"

Seriously. I'm a male Creative Director in this industry, and I think it's awful.

The ad is part of a series by AlmapBBDO of Brazil for Bayer. It won a Bronze Lion at Cannes 2016 in the Outdoor category.

The other two in the winning entry were a little less explicit:

These are part of a over-arching campaign that describes situations that might give the listener/victim a headache. They play all kinds of stereotypes about ex-wives and protective fathers, and are mostly harmless.

But not "'Don't worry, babe, I'm not filming this'.mov"

I see a lot of regressive ads coming out of Brazil, and I'm used to a certain kind of humour in them. But this one, translated into English for an international awards show, is really bad timing for a joke about non-consensual filming of sex.

Yeah, yeah. Call me an "SJW" if you want. But I'm trying to raise a son into a man who doesn't exploit and abuse women. The idea of filming and possibly sharing an intimate sex tape of a woman without her consent is just not funny anymore. It's the kind of bro-attitude that we should be denormalizing, rather than normalizing, along with jokes about other kinds of sexual violation.

Bayer, BBDO, and Cannes should do better than this. It's 20-effing-16.

UPDATE: Cindy Gallop added, via Facebook, some further context as to why this ad's timing is so bad.

UPDATE 2: Adweek reports that BBDO global creative chief David Lubars, who stated: "I learned last night that one of our very own agencies had a pretty scammy ad in the festival, and it won a Lion, I told them to return it. Because I don't want that kind of Lion. BBDO doesn't want that kind of Lion."

It turned out that the sexism was one thing, but what the global ad giant couldn't stand was that AlmapBBDO had paid for their own media placement. Even though Bayer had signed off on the ad, the agency paying to make it official is against the rules.


  1. I think the writer is missing the point of the ads. The are two strengths of aspirin, and there are two levels of transgression. These statements in green are manifest, and oft-heard, lies—like "the check is in the mail"—and lies give one a headache. Hearing the suspected lie itself is bad enough to warrant a green strength aspirin, but when it's proved to be a lie by evidence being presented, such as a .mov file, then it increases the headache to the level that warrants the stronger red aspirin. This particular ad is depicting the woman's God-give-me-strength response to a dumb lie, not endorsing the lie.

    1. I'm familiar with the campaign. The execution in question makes a joke that is potentially quite harmful.

      Making light of certain issues, like sexual violations, helps to normalize them. That contributes to a culture that minimizes the damage done, and allows people to continue to do these awful things.

    2. Completely agree with you, Tom!

  2. Oh yes, because the issue of finding out that your sexual partner has posted a sex video of you online, without your knowledge, can be solved with an extra strength Asprin! The ad minimizes the affects of such a violating and debilitating situation, and perpetuates the social perception that it's "NBD" to do something like that. It's more serious than a "the cheque is in the mail" lie, or a "God-give-me-strength" moment. THAT is why the ad, and why it shouldn't have won at Cannes.

    There are so many other ways that this creative strategy could have been done well.

    A simple example:

    "Oh, the presentation is today?" (in green)
    "Ahhh... What presentation!?" (in red)