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The world is returning to normal... and so are ads!

Let’s go back to normal! We just celebrated ‘Freedom Day’ last Monday. You’ve had a week to go into nightclubs that haven’t been the same since early 2020. You can go into Pret without wearing a mask. People’s spirits are lifted, the British summer is trying to come out, business is seemingly going back to what we know as ‘normal’. I myself went to Heaven Nightclub in Charing Cross on July 18th Sunday. That to me felt what I would define as normal, people just enjoying themselves.

Because of this, I am particularly attracted to the recent surge of advertisers using this idea of ‘returning to the new normal’ campaigns. On TFL I see taxi services encouraging users to travel more. I see the hospitality sector putting posters up with witty slogans encouraging customers to come and enjoy what we’ve been starved of for too long now. 

As energy is high and I’m feeling positive, I am going to break down and analyze some really awesome ‘back to normal’ campaigns. Are they effective in encouraging consumers to return to a ‘normal’? 

So the lockdown has put a lot of pressure on people and their partners, which affects their sex life. Durex created a really heartwarming campaign that’s message is ‘Let’s not get back to normal’ encouraging customers to not return to ‘needless STIs’ and ‘people making excuses for not wearing a condom’. It speaks the message of unity after a year of a lot of adversity and change to come together and be considerate to others. Using phrases like ‘The world has never been more ready for change.’ As we adapt to this new covid world and start exploring intimacy with others, Durex has created a well-put-together campaign that encourages us to do all of this in a safe and more socially conscious way. Alongside a poster and OOH campaign, they created a tv advert, which shows a multitude of skin colours and sexual orientations further emphasizing the unifying feeling the campaign has. I think showing diversity in people is so crucial at a time like this when the world is more culturally aware and diverse. A really successful campaign, created by Havas London, and one of my favourite advertising campaigns I have seen so far.

A campaign that fell short of the mark was Dettol’s back to work campaign. Spotted on TFL, the advert had a witty bit of text talking of how we as workers miss our work colleagues and the desire to go back in. Well, the advert was torn apart online, with many tube users taking pictures of the advert and taking to Twitter to mock it. People claimed it was not going to encourage people to return to work as it hoped it would. Some examples of twitter captions being  ‘Ironically, this advert for Dettol makes me want to drink Dettol.’ A particular comment by user @ViewfromN5 said ‘Okay - so this is a Dettol advert rather than a Govt campaign. Good. It’s remarkable - CCing, BCCing... - it’s like they think no one has been working at home. Insulting really.’ I think that is the overall issue with this type of advert. People are worried about their safety and so excited to leave lockdown, they do not identify with their work colleagues being the people they want to see first. Some of the text can be misconstrued, saying people who work from home are not really working to their best potential.  

I’m not necessarily a sportsperson. When I can find a swimming pool, I enjoy swimming. But I would never sit down and watch a sports game. However, one thing I love to see is the sports advert campaigns. 

The recent Adidas advertising campaign ‘Ready for sport’ acknowledges that right now sport is not the first thing on people’s minds. But it reminds its audience that it is a place for community and a way to connect people from all over the world, at a time when international travel is difficult with COVID restrictions. We see different countries, cultures, skin colours and sports. There is a TV advert, but the campaign also is seen on the website with portfolios and articles for each featured athlete. 

This campaign also promotes their recent line of training clothing. As the world is returning to normal and gyms are opening, people are starting to want to take care of their fitness. They say on their website ‘Sport rewards us with joy, resilience, and optimism. It’s time to play with more heart and hope than ever.’ 

By agency Iris, I think the campaign encompasses the overall feeling of the world, in wanting to return to a healthy normal, that does not feature sitting on the sofa, eating food for hours, and being unable to exercise effectively. 

Now for Heineken, always a topical brand, in July released a campaign called ‘Back to the Bars’. The campaign is in support of the hospitality sector across the world. On Heineken’s website, they say ‘Our brands have been enjoyed in restaurants and bars around the world for many years. Now, these places are experiencing difficult times. To support them through this, we have launched the "Back the Bars" initiative.’ They started a Twitter hashtag #BackTheBars , which went viral and created a TV advert.

I am not a massive beer drinker. But I am a night owl and seeing this coming together of an alcohol company and bars across the world is really uplifting to see. I think it encompasses the overall feel of this reopening. Another phrase in the campaign I enjoyed seeing was ‘Life needs bars, as much as bars needs life.’ It highlights the importance of nightlife and hospitality. People who have been kept apart and struggling alone, finally being able to come together and help one another out. 

Heineken released a ‘The Night is for the Young’ advert that showcased elderly people dancing in a nightclub and enjoying the malt beverage. Elderly people are some of the first to be vaccinated so are able to go out again. It encourages the consumer to get vaccinated so they can join in. Heineken even posted the advertisement on Twitter with the caption ‘Cheers to the vaccinated. Time to join them. #FreshBeginnings’. People from the anti-vaccination campaign obviously took issue with this message, causing an uproar online. The hashtag #BoycottHeineken went viral and videos were uploaded of people flushing the lager down their toilet and kitchen sinks. Now although my view is we should all be vaccinated, Heineken showing an advert that talks of such a sensitive topic at such a time of confusion and fear is slightly insensitive. 

In conclusion, I think the three of these successful campaigns are effective. They showcase the struggle in which we all have encountered throughout this lockdown. While also having a general happy resolution of unity and freedom once again being restored. I believe that the three ads also allow the audience to be able to relate to them easily and feel uplifted by them. The issue I think with the ones that did not hit the mark in my opinion is that they don’t read the room well. An unpopular opinion being brought up or talking on what some would consider quite a divided and political opinion is never good to discuss in an advert so soon as we return to normal. All five have something in common which is successful, however, and that is the feeling of freedom.