Surreal is getting sued*
*if their creative use of an asterisk has put them at risk
I’m of course talking about the OOH ads from Surreal that feature celebrity namesakes as cereal testers. The ads that are now worth their weight in gold, purely for dividing opinion. But with the chatter turning to a debate in marketing ethics too quickly (will they get away with it?), has their bravery outshone creative brilliance and the original purpose of the ads, to actually push the cereal in the first place?
Do the ads make you want to go and buy a box? I would argue probably not. In fact, I probably couldn’t tell you what kind of cereal it is, or even a flavour… and that’s okay!?
I think what the creative concept represents is way more interesting anyway. And no, it’s not got anything to do with people having no money (snooze)… but instead, a feeling that we might have finally reached the tipping of celebrity endorsement? Becoming bored of the hefty price tag it holds and no longer succumbing the ‘power’ it supposedly holds over us.
A conundrum for marketeers, for sure a concern for agents, but maybe a challenge for creatives to think differently as we head further into 2023. The revolt Surreal played out was accompanied with a creative solution of swapping celebrities with everyday people to drive an authentic message that maybe they thought could be trusted more.
Perhaps they wanted consumers to think, ‘If everyday people like me, who just happen to have a celebrity name, like the cereal, then so should I.’ This push for authenticity is certainly becoming more buzzy. Aside from these ads, it’s trending on social. Culture brands are choosing to collaborate with ‘authentic influencers’, people who are more unique in personality, usually have niche interests, are of any age and often with smaller followings. (Check out the now infamous ‘veg king’ Gerald Stratford, who appeared in Gucci’s Off Grid)
And those with more whitewashed influencer personalities (you know the types) are deinfluencing – telling their followers why they should not buy a product – to appear more real or unruly. It is smart? It is lazy? Is it just another fad that will inevitably be commercialised? Whatever camp you’re in, you have to agree that change and newness is good. Saving us from defaulting to the status quo and creative that’s uninspired, boring or at the worst redundant.