WorkInProgress made a novelty scented candle that calls for an end to novelty scented candles
Matt Talbot explains the origins of ‘Low Hanging Fruit’—and weighs in on advertising’s originality dilemma
“Chipotle acknowledges lemonade theft with scented candle launch.” “Smell KFC gravy all day long with the Colonel's scented candle.” “Ikea releases limited-edition meatball-scented candle.” “These scented candles evoke refugees' home memories.”
These are all real headlines (including a couple from Ad Age), and all evidence of a marketing stunt—the scented candle—that’s grown pretty stale yet seems, Terminator-like, unable to die.
Now, creative agency WorkInProgress has weighed in on the trend—with a scented candle of its own, called Low Hanging Fruit. But this one’s a parody—a plea to the advertising industry to think beyond “easy ideas” for clients. Or at the very least, to just quit making damn candles already.
By the agency’s count, there have been at least 31 novelty candles from brands—including a whopping 22 since 2020. Low Hanging Fruit, which smells like fig and black currant, will hopefully end the madness with its wry commentary on it. The candles are selling for $18 a pop at stopmakingcandles.com, with proceeds going to the Denver Ad School.
“We’re not out to throw stones ... but this felt like a good statement from the agency,” said Matt Talbot, co-founder and chief creative officer. “We want the industry to be a work in progress. We want to push for ideas that are innovative and fresh. We felt like we could have the right tone and do that with this idea.”
The creative team of Chelsea Anderson and Andrew Bridgers, both associate creative directors, came up with the idea, which originally purcolated in an agency Slack channel. Emma Froberg and Jimmy Rosen worked on the package design. The label says the candle is “Never unscented” yet “Always unoriginal”—and “smells like you’re out of ideas.”
Originality can be a difficult thing in advertising. Everything, in some form, is built off the past—yet the trick, as Talbot says, lies in finding new angles and insights to make that iterative process feel fresh.
“There's things that become cliché and then twisting them makes them feel totally new,” he said. “An example in our semi-distant past is, pop-up shops are cliché, but a cliffside shop is the twist that makes it new and that's a good thing.”
WorkInProgress handles a lot of technology work, including lauded innovation projects for Domino’s. In the tech space, Talbot says, keeping on top of competitors’ features and functionality—and sometimes copying elements of them—is solid business strategy. He takes issue more with imitation on the advertising side, where lifting ideas is usually just lazy.
“Our job is a lot of recombining and finding new things by taking what you know and building off that,” he said. “Maybe one of the outcomes of this idea is that someone will prove us wrong and come up with an actual creative take on candles again.”
- Apr 26, 2023
- Agency :
- Partner & Chief Creative Officer :
- Matt Talbot
- Associate Creative Director / Art Director :
- Chelsea Anderson
- Associate Creative Director / Copywriter :
- Andrew Bridgers
- Associate Design Director :
- Jimmy Rosen
- Designer :
- Emma Froberg
- Partner Production :
- Stafford Bosak
- Director of Interactive Production :
- Dan Corken
- Partner Technology & Operations :
- Harold Jones
- Partner Account & Strategy :
- Alex Guerri
- Partner Account & Strategy :
- Evan Russack
- Dev Shop :
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