Ad agency Jung von Matt/Elbe recently submitted the “Care From the Air” ad for an award at Cannes Lions. “It’s the most stupid thing I think I’ve seen in my whole life,” judge John Hegarty said.
Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn, but unlike adults, they don’t understand the importance of wearing sunscreen. That’s the core problem at the heart of this Nivea ad, but the agency in charge went off in a very weird direction.
Rather than propose a workable solution — like rewarding kids for applying the goop all over, or describing the benefits in easy to understand terms — the agency instead decided to design and build a sunscreen-shitting seagull, before using it to fly across a beach and pepper a gang of kids in sticky white “poop.”
The resulting video has got everything a good ad campaign shouldn’t: older men spying on children from sand dunes, close-ups of the act of shitting on said children, and children who inexplicably respond to being shit on by giggling and rubbing it into their skin.
On that last topic, I’ve got to assume that the kids here were briefed for a long time about the nature of the giant bird toy and why the adults wanted to see them covered in its droppings. Even at the age of the kids in the video, my reaction to the potential of bird poop landing on my body would have been more “eww, gross,” than “life-giving manna from heaven! I must smear it against my body before it disappears!”
It’s not the kids’ fault, though. “Don’t show children rubbing pretend bird feces into their skin” is the kind of rule you’d think you wouldn’t have to teach at advertising school, but here we are in 2016, with an oversized seagull puppet, a complicated sunscreen ejection system, and scores of sticky children.
Less surprisingly, Nivea didn’t decide to run with the agency’s spot as part of its own advertising campaign, with the video’s creators telling Ad Week that the “Care From the Air” campaign wouldn’t be promoted.