Kris W.

We’re about a month out from A&G’s first Quarenversary of when we headed home to WFH for a week or two in 2020. My how the time flies.

Let’s see what’s going on in the world of advertising and branding this week, shall we?

Smart design doesn’t have to be complicated.


If you’re not a Pennsylvanian, you may not have heard that Lt Governor John Fetterman has thrown his hat in the ring for an upcoming senate seat. Whenever you start a political campaign, it’s crucial to get donations ASAP to build momentum. So naturally Fetterman’s team has employed a tactic featuring a Very Good Boy; the family’s dog, Levi: Users with a donation account set up prior can simply boop (or ‘click’, if you hate fun) Levi’s nose to donate $1.

In verticals where every dollar counts — like non profits — coming up with intuitive and clever ideas to make donations painless are key. While we don’t know exactly how Levi wound up on the Fetterman site, oftentimes we’ve found these ideas start to materialize during workshops between clients and their agency partners — especially when clients and agencies have an open relationship founded on common creative principles.

To find out how A&G works with clients to create ideas worthy of a boop, check out our site.

Vans blends public access vibes and livestreaming with the launch of a live digital broadcast platform.

Image: Vans

On February 10th, the brand that brought us the Warped Tour has launched Channel 66, inspired by public access stations but built for the livestreaming trend that’s further exploded during the pandemic. It also seems like a natural next step given the popularity of podcasts that spread knowledge and storytelling in the way radio did before TV.

According to the site, Channel 66 will broadcast live weekdays from New York City, Chicago, Mexico City, and Los Angeles. Programming will feature DJ sets, curated radio shows, talks, workshops and performances across music, art, action sports and street culture. Hosts will be ‘friends of Vans’, so it’s not a true public access model, but this could be an intriguing way for cities and local government to re-think their own public access offerings.

So far the schedule showcases programs like Under the Tracks, a “two hour commute along the foundational rails of Chicago Independent Music”; The BrooklynVegan Show where the long-running NYC music blog “highlights new (and old) music from all genres with special guest interviews, live performances, and more”; plus a number of sets from DJs in residence.

Overall Channel 66 offers brands another example of how content creation and supply is offering a natural way for brands to lean into their strengths and show the values they believe in — like Vans’ belief in supporting artists and giving them a platform and compensation for their talent.

More deets available from Billboard.

A year later, Aunt Jemima finally has a new name.

Image: PepsiCo

If 2020 was the year of brand promises, 2021 will be the year of receipts.

After conducting market research “with consumers, employees, external cultural and subject-matter experts, and diverse agency partners to gather broad perspectives,” PepsiCo has swapped out ‘Aunt Jemima’ for ‘Pearl Milling Company’, the late 19th-century company that originally created the pancake mix. And, smartly understanding that a brand’s actions make all the difference, Pearl Milling Company will soon announce an annual $1 million commitment to empower and uplift Black girls and women.

However, as is often the case with incredibly complicated and emotionally-charged decision, not everyone is happy with the way the matter has played out.

In Chicago, relatives of the women who portrayed Aunt Jemima feel they’re being erased and are pursuing litigation. According to an interview with ABC 7 Chicago, Dannez Hunter, great grandson of Aunt Jemima model Anna Short Harrington, the move not only cheats his family out of earnings [the women who portrayed Aunt Jemima] are due, but also erases them from history.

So far, this is the second brand we’ve seen unveil the work resulting from 2020 promises:

In September 2020, Uncle Ben’s changed their name to Ben’s Originals to move away from racial stereotyping. According to the BBC, Mars said it would also work with the National Urban League in the US to support black chefs with a $2m donation toward scholarships and invest $2.5m in Greenville, Mississippi, where the rice is made.

Why all the ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ changes beyond the connotations of American minstrel history? According to author Marilyn Kern-Foxworth who wrote Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus: Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ were used decades ago to avoid giving Black individuals the titles of ‘miss’ and ‘mister’.

As strategists, there’s always a lot of work to be done digging into cultural issues that affect anything a brand does. Primary research — particularly speaking to stakeholders and consumers — is one of the most impactful tactics we can use to help brands make decisions. That said, it’s ultimately the market and consumers who decide if these decisions were impactful in positive or negative ways.

Read more: CNN

If you can cook an egg on your laptop, you may have too many tabs open.

Image: Google

Whilst not marketing related, per-say, honorable mention this week goes to the sudden discovery that we can group our tabs in Google Chrome. No longer must we share our screens and be judged — severely — for having 60 tabs open at once like we’re Charlie Kelly trying to talk about the mail.

How you do it, via Gear Patrol:

  • Right-click on a tab in your Chrome browser.
  • Select “Add Tab to Group” in the drop-down menu.
  • Type the group name and select the color you want the group organized by.

Will it reduce the steak-searing temperatures laptops seem to all be experiencing during WFH? Maybe not, but at least now we’re a bit more organized.

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