April 24, 2018

Curious Season 7 – Populating Culture in 2018

Some years back, in simpler times, David Cameron was asked at a press conference to sum up the state of his party’s relationship with their coalition partners at the time, the Lib Dems. Searching for a turn of phrase that would adequately convey his sentiments on the ill-fated political marriage, the then Prime Minister simply responded “It’s a Ronseal deal – it does what it says on the tin”.

Cameron’s decision to use an advertising slogan as a means of defining the health of his government demonstrates just how powerful brand straplines can be once they’ve entered the popular lexicon.  Serving as a common reference point for a cross-section of society, they can become a potent means of generating earned media for a brand. VCCP has enjoyed particular success in this regard with the now ubiquitous ‘Simples!’ catchphrase subtly injecting CompareTheMarket’s meerkat vernacular into an innumerable amount of random conversations up and down the country.



Image Credit – CompareTheMarket

With these sentiments in mind, and in anticipation of our upcoming Curious Season, we’ve pulled together a brief overview of some of the  campaigns which have had a significant impact on popular culture in recent times.  First on the list is Nike’s famous challenge for us to ‘Just Do It’ –  a tagline that’s been a household phrase since the late 1980s. At the time, Nike catered almost exclusively towards marathon runners and were being outsold by their arch-rivals Reebok. As a fitness craze emerged and more of the population were in the market for athletic wear, Nike’s revised positioning distilled the ethos of exercise into its most concise articulation: Just Do It.  Interestingly, it’s reported that the copywriter behind it’s inception, Dan Wieden, purportedly got the idea from the last utterances of an infamous serial killer who was facing death by firing squad.



 Image Credit – Nike

Another campaign that really managed to capture the public’s imagination was Old Spice’s  ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ which became a viral sensation practically overnight. Introducing a man with exaggerated masculine characteristics, the campaign played on what women want, rather than what men aspire to be, and it proved to be wildly effective. Actor Isaiah Mustafa became the face of the brand that suddenly everyone was quoting, and a pioneering (for 2010) interactive video campaign had Mustafa replying to individual comments on social media. ‘The Old Spice Man’ subsequently became a brand embodiment dedicated to direct communication and is still fondly remembered and parodied to this day.

Old spice

Image Credit – OldSpice


Last but not least, the #LikeAGirl campaign by female sanitary brand Always hit home with its category defying view on female adolescence. Borne of the insight that girls’ self-esteem drops twice as much boys’ during puberty, the spot aimed to reminds young women of the undaunted confidence they used to possess as kids.  Launched during the 2015 Superbowl, a notoriously masculine sporting event, Always managed to pull off the impossible – getting people to share and talk about content that was ultimately all linked to the elephant in the room – the debilitating pain of periods.  The message is now a holistic initiative run by Always, redefining the age-old derogatory notions of what it means to do something ‘like a girl’.

always 1

Image Credit – Always


So there you have it, a little taster of what it takes to really make your mark beyond the world of brands and advertising. If you’d like to learn more on the subject,  please join us on Thursday morning (26th April) when VCCP’s very own culture vultures Jim Thornton (Deputy ECD) and Michael Lee (Chief Strategy Officer) will be the speakers kicking off our brand new Curious Season –  ‘Populating Culture in 2018’.

Until then, stay curious!

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Team Curious

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