Update: The creators of this video recently removed it from Vimeo where it was originally featured, as rights on some of the images/footage within had not been cleared.
Brands’ heartfelt ads that cut together uplifting and tragic images from the coronavirus crisis have been pouring in since the pandemic began, but here’s one that drops the mic on all of them.
The film by New York-based copywriter Samantha Geloso, titled "Hey, we're a brand," swipes at the myriad sentimental spots that have stitched together found and user-generated footage paying homage to frontline workers, employees still toiling away at essential businesses and people responsibly sheltering in place while highlighting brands’ own efforts to pitch in during the crisis.
Geloso’s film mimics that framework, yet as shot after uplifting shot appears over a delicate piano track, a friendly, relatable voiceover picks apart the now well-worn strategy.
“Hey,” she says. “We’re a brand. Things are pretty crazy right now, huh? Maybe you’re a little scared. We are too. Scared of losing sales. But our advertising agency said that tragedy wins awards. So here’s some sad pictures of places you probably recognize. Like this. Look, it’s a Target, but empty. We’re going to show pictures of people now to remind that brands are also humans.”
The idea is reminiscent of a film from a couple years back, in which a stock footage company created a “generic” millennials ad.
Geloso says that her spoof “is the ad I never wanted to see and somehow always wanted to make.” With a few collaborator friends, she created it over about three days. The no-frills production saw her reading the spot’s voiceover herself “on my phone in my sad little bedroom,” she says.
Geloso’s past credits include campaigns for Smirnoff, Carl’s Jr. and Audible, among others. When asked what she would do if she got a real brief requiring a touchy-feely pastiche, she offers an alternative. “I think the best thing a brand can do is focus on solving a concrete problem, even if it’s small,” she says. “If you’re working in this industry, it’s your job to solve problems creatively—like those Miami ad school kids who are posting billboards with the spoilers to TV shows so people stay inside. Creatives need to be brave and provide alternate solutions to the ‘how to deal with a crisis’ template because a ‘how to deal with a crisis’ template shouldn’t exist.”
Check out Geloso’s script in its entirety below. It’s pure poetry.
Hey. We’re a brand.
Things are pretty crazy right now, huh?
Maybe you’re a little scared.
We are too.
Scared of losing sales.
But our advertising agency said that tragedy wins awards.
So here’s some sad pictures of places you probably recognize.
Look, it’s a Target, but empty.
We’re going to show pictures of people now
to remind that brands are also humans.
Our advertising agency said that people like humans
and that this shot
will get them to Cannes.
Look, a healthcare worker with one tear.
Is it a happy tear or sad tear?
More eyes, more tears
That’s the stuff
And now, an emotional montage
Because we want you to remember life before the thing
Old person in front of birthday cake
a crisp white screen.
Is this the end?
It’s just the first part of the tagline.
Finally, we’re going to ask you to do something for us.
And if you don’t do it,
you’ll feel like a bad person.