Leo Burnett’s #ReverseForKindness campaign -- the simple act of writing English like Arabic, not left to right but right to left -- creates a strong impact. The underlying message that directional way of writing language does not change the way of expressing thoughts is very powerful. In these times where the leaders of nations are busy dividing people, this is a powerful message of unity
Delhi | February 9, 2017
We live in strange times. The times where the leader of the free world wants to build walls and the brands from the same free world break the walls down. The war between the political brinkmanship and brand statesmanship has never been so stark as it has been now.
Whoever thought that there would be a time when the leader of men will become jingoistic, small minded and tight fisted, and purveyors of transactions will become global, large hearted and celebrate the human diversity.
The chaos started with Donald Trump banning refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering US, in a clear act of religious discrimination. The backlash against the executive order was massive from the public and from the establishment too. The courts stepped in and within 24 hours, the travel ban was put in limbo. The massive backlash from ordinary Americans and from citizens of almost every country gave brands the fuel needed to create messages of unity and celebrating diversity.
AirBnB released its ad on Superbowl to make a simple point: The world is more beautiful the more you accept. The entire copy of the ad -- “We believe no matter who you are, where you're from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept” -- is a powerful statement against what the political powers to be have made the country out to be. The #WeAccept campaign is an evolution from the film they released last November.
Coke dipped back into its archives to pull out an ad from 2014. America the Beautiful spot starts in English and then the verses keep flowing into multiple languages, including Hindi and Arabic and various others.
The ad from Coke was very polarising when it was aired last. The reactions this time too has been sharply divided for both the commercials. While many hated the commercials, many more loved not only the message but also the bravery of the brand to take sides and be more than just a brand, being politically correct with the timely message.
This is where both Coke and AirBnB score very big, they refuse to tow the middle of the road line and are aggressive in displaying their progressive (and some may even say correct) side in the current scenario.
Leo Burnett’s #ReverseForKindness is the most insightful piece that I have seen recently on the culture gap and human diversity. The simple act of writing English like Arabic, not left to right but right to left, creates a strong impact. The underlying message that the directional way of writing language does not change the way of expressing thoughts is very powerful. In these times where the leaders of nations are busy dividing people, this is a powerful message of unity.
These brand messages are the real positives in these troubled political times. In India, brands rarely display their political belief. They stick to the middle of the road acceptable protocol of messaging and almost never live on the edge. I am not expecting brands to jump into the fray and start to display their political leanings immediately, but being culturally sensitive and having a contra point of view is not always a bad thing for brands.
With a small dosage of hate come a large dollop of admiration and a long lasting memorability.
Add some admiration to it too.
(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle. The views expressed are personal.)