Thursday Thinky: Government, Taxes, & Beers

Events from last week made me think of government.

Our four offices participated in the Climate Strike to ask our government to act on Climate Change. If you look at the news, the US elections are already making all the headlines. Abroad, Israelis struggle to form a government. And, the United Nations are currently holding their general assembly.

So naturally, we decided to put our Thinky spotlight on governments. We took a look at three campaigns, in Germany, London, and Hong Kong, to highlight the good, the bad, and the ugly of governments’ use of advertising. And to thank you for indulging our administration fix, we also have three great campaigns from Burger King, Busch & Venmo, and a masterpiece from The Female Company to bring awareness on the unfair tax on tampons in Germany (and everywhere).

See you in October!


Government Tackling Big Issues


Germany’s Transport Ministry – A bike safety campaign that went too far? (

Alcohol and automotive brands have pretty much lived the “sex sells” mantra since the beginning of time. But in the current cultural climate, should a bike safety campaign COMING FROM A MINISTRY have stepped into that realm? On one hand, it gets your attention. On the other hand… I can’t believe that a government would even entertain such an idea. In a way, I like that they were bold and went for it. But there was NO way there were going to get away with it.


Central Office of Public Interest – New anti-pollution tool rates air toxicity levels in London (Campaign Live)

This is a very cool example of utility as a marketing approach.
“The Central Office of Public Interest has launched a citizen-funded tool that rates pollution levels by address. At, users can enter their postcode and get a free report on the annual average levels of pollution there, along with any associated health or financial costs.”
And, cherry on top, it ties to advocacy actions: “People can sign a petition on the website to demand action from the government, with specific action points suggested for each local council and MP.” Well done, mates.


Hong Kong Asked 8 Global PR Firms To Help Rebrand Its Image After Months Of Protests. Everyone Said No (BuzzFeed News)

This actually made us quite happy–that despite the potentially enormous budget attached to a brand campaign for a major global city, no agencies wanted to play. It’s lovely to see agencies acting on their moral beliefs, and not being afraid to turn down the opportunity for work they don’t ethically or politically support. And even if they said no because of how toxic it could have been to their firms, it’s still cool that they were willing to say no.


Brands That Caught Our Eye


The Female Company – Using tampons to outsmart Germany’s “pink tax” system (Scholz & Friends)

Back to Germany, this time for our favorite campaign of the week! Germany has a 19% tax on tampons. WTF? The Female Company (maker of said tampons) decided to take action against the discrimination, and came up with a way to sell them that would skirt around the tax laws. Instead of packaging their tampons in a box, as usual, they packaged them inside a book, which is only subject to 7% tax. GENIUS!



Burger King – BK meltdown: recycling plastic kids’ meal crap into more useful things (The Drum)

As part of its overall sustainability initiative, BK is trying to lead the charge to get rid of plastic toys in fast food kids meals. So they’re asking kids to bring in plastic toys they’ve gotten in the past–from any fast food chain, including BK–and “donate” them back to the brand in exchange for a free kids meal sans plastic toy, but with other fun things like stickers instead. All the plastic collected will be melted down and turned into better things for kids to play with, like playground equipment. Real purpose + Corp responsibility effort + tangible goal = BK.FTW



Busch + Venmo – A fan’s plea for beer money turns into 100K for a children’s hospital (CNN)

A dude at a college football game wanted $$ for Busch beer. He held up a sign on national TV, people gave him money Venmo. He raised a ton, and decided to donate most of it to a local children’s hospital that’s right next to the college stadium. Because they were organically part of the moment, Venmo and Busch decided they wanted to get in on the action and matched the donation. Now the hospital is getting 100K.


*UPDATE 9/27/19: There were unfortunate developments to this campaign. As reported by the Washington Post, a journalist from the Des Moins Register who was working on a profile of Carson King, the sign holder, dug up offensive tweets that King had shared 8 years ago, when he was 16 years old. King has apologized for the tweets but has since lost his partnership with Busch.  The journalist, who also shared offensive tweets in the past, has since been let go by the paper. To sum it up, the Register, who approved the publication of King’s profile, investigated its journalist for investigating someone else, and then fired him for doing the same thing he did.

This is a very convoluted situation that raised the issue of  “cancel culture” for us. If it may make sense to go back in people’s past in some cases, how is it warranted here? How are tweets that old relevant when it comes to King’s gesture? Despite the racist undertone of the tweets, it should not tarnish his initiative of donating money to a children’s hospital. These are two separate topics. One is unforgettable, the other is honorable, but they are not linked to each other. And, it does not change our opinion on what King did with the money raised.


Bonus: Cause Marketing Webinars


Media CauseCause Marketing, what it is, what it’s not, and how to get it right (Part 1 of 4)

Since we usually have a cause marketing section, I thought I’d share with you our Cause Marketing 101 webinar. It’s available at the link above.
If you want to learn even more about it, the second part of this series will be coming to you on November 6, and you can reserve your spot, right here.



That’s it for today’s Thinky. See you next week!

PS: If any of the above made your wheel spin, we’d love to hear your thoughts–get in touch with us!

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