Nike’s plus-size mannequins caused a stir (but they shouldn’t have): Wednesday Wake-Up Call
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What people are talking about today
Nike debuted some plus-size female mannequins at a store in London—which is no big deal in this age of body positivity and inclusivity, right? But somehow Nike’s not-very-bold move inspired a writer to pen an opinion piece in the U.K.’s The Telegraph lashing out at Nike for glorifying body shapes that she sees as unhealthy. Writer Tanya Gold says one of Nike’s mannequins is “immense, gargantuan, vast. She heaves with fat. She is, in every measure, obese, and she is not readying herself for a run in her shiny Nike gear. She cannot run. She is, more likely, pre-diabetic and on her way to a hip replacement.”
HuffPost called the piece a “click-baity excuse for a story.” Fair enough. It’s also a win for Nike in the end, since people are fuming about The Telegraph and praising Nike for its inclusivity.
The best reactions came from women who identified with the image Nike was trying to portray. Author Roxane Gay tweeted at The Telegraph: “I work out six days a week. I am fat. I wear workout clothes while working out. The world continues to turn. Shut up.”
Body positivity, part II
Ad Age’s cover for our Cannes Lions issue depicts an image quite similar to the Nike mannequin: It’s the full-figured Venus of Willendorf, a stone figurine dating back to 28,000–25,000 B.C. On our cover, the Venus is striding down the red carpet at the advertising festival that starts next week at the French Riviera—a message about inclusivity in advertising. It’s a surprising cover, and you might do a double-take when you see it.
The artist behind the illustration is Arnel Villanueva, an associate creative director at BBDO Guerrero in Manila, Philippines and the winner of our 10th annual cover contest for young creatives. In partnership with Dove, Getty Images and Girlgaze, we asked creatives to dream up “an Ad Age cover image that communicates the power of truthful representation in advertising, creativity or the broader cultural world.” As Villanueva tells Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker, he sees the age-old Venus of Willendorf as an icon who “walks confidently in her own body.” Read all about the cover design here.
More about Cannes: “Delegates traveling to Cannes this year will be confronted at Nice airport with posters reminding them of the dangers of sexual harassment at the festival,” Ad Age’s Alexandra Jardine writes. The ads are by agency Lucky Generals for a U.K. organization called timeTo. Check them out here.
Meanwhile on Instagram
Two artists and an Israeli advertising startup called Canny AI made a fake video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying things he clearly would never say. In the bogus video posted to Facebook-owned Instagram (and spotted by Vice) the faux Zuck seems to describe himself as a “man with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”
Facebook isn’t taking the video down. An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch: “We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram. If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram’s recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages.”
Omer Ben-Ami, co-founder of Canny AI, told Vice that it sees such videos as “the next step in our digital evolution where eventually each one of us could have a digital copy, a Universal Everlasting human. This will change the way we share and tell stories, remember our loved ones and create content."
Which is, um, far-out?
In other fake video news: Facebook didn’t pull down a viral video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to make her appear to be slurring his words. The Washington Post reports that Zuckerberg tried to call Pelosi to talk—but she hasn’t called him back.
Required reading: Mary Meeker is out with her highly awaited annual report on internet trends. Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft and George P. Slefo combed through her 333 slides to break it down into 11 key takeaways. (Here’s one nugget: “An increasing number of people are using images to communicate: More than 50 percent of all tweets, for example, now include images.”)
Supersonic: Pandora is launching Studio Resonate, “a consulting arm that aims to help brands navigate tasks like creating a ‘sonic logo,’ which is a tune or sound that listeners associate with any given brand,” George P. Slefo reports in Ad Age.
Did Heat get hotter?: How is creative agency Heat doing since its acquisition by consulting giant Deloitte Digital in 2016? Lindsay Rittenhouse checks in. “What Deloitte Digital and Heat are doing is taking advantage of their available tech and data stacks in a way that most agencies have not yet achieved but are trying to,” Forrester’s Jay Pattisall tells her.
Beer Brawl, continued: “MillerCoors will sit out an industry-wide campaign meant to lift the sagging beer category, marking a new chapter in its fight with Anheuser-Busch InBev,” Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz writes.
Life in 2019: Given the popularity of HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” Instagram influencers are visiting the site of the nuclear disaster and taking selfies there. There’s a backlash, obviously. “Critics on social media are shaming influencers for using the tragic site for self-promotion,” Ad Age’s Ilyse Liffreing writes.
Podcast of the day: Jean-Marie Dru, chairman of TBWA Worldwide, is a Renaissance man. He’s president of UNICEF France, he coined the ubiquitous term “disruption,” and he’s a fan of the Beatles and slam poetry. Listen to his conversation with Ad Age’s Alfred Maskeroni and I-Hsien Sherwood on the “Ad Block” podcast.
Ad of the day: If your brand name is Brawny and your mascot is a giant, how do you promote a product that’s dainty? The brand’s new paper towels come in sheets that are a quarter of the usual size, for tiny messes. Brawny’s solution involves “a funny new music video from agency Wolfgang,” which features a singing giant playing a tiny guitar. Read more from Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz, and watch it here.
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