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Thursday Thinky: Solutions, Elections & 4/20

A lot happened this past week: Covid is still not a hoax and remains as dangerous as ever, democrats and republicans are fiercely battling with the presidential election in sight, the first two episodes of The Last Dance, a 10-episode documentary about Michael Jordan and the 97-98 Bulls Championship team, became ESPN’s most viewed documentary ever, and… Monday was 4/20.

And in this week’s Thinky, we found a way to touch on all of the above, except for Michael Jordan (and as basketball junkie, it saddens me but I take full responsibility)! You’ll find out about clever solutions to work around our new normal, a surprising campaign from ACLU on racial discrimination in marijuana law enforcement, and an interesting article about the use of YouTube as a political campaign tool.

Enjoy the read!



Creative & Brand


DoritosUsing humor to stand out from other brands (The Stable)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Most brands are getting very introspective, serious, and even dare I say—formulaic—with their ads right now. If you think that’s being harsh, watch this YouTube video.

Yes, this pandemic is unprecedented, and brands do need to be communicating with their audiences through all of this. But that doesn’t mean that creativity and imagination should get put on the back burner. If every brand is broadcasting exactly the same sentiment, do any of them really make an impact? At this point in time, do we care that a car company “will be there for us” when this is all over? Brand love and patience are running thin, and the ones who are really standing out are those who are coming at this from an entirely different perspective.

Enter Doritos, in Israel. Instead of going the sappy route, they tapped into an entirely different genre of human truth right now: we’re all stuck at home, raiding our pantries 24/7, and running out of our fav snacks because Instacart can’t deliver till next week. What’s a human to do?? Conserve every last bite, clearly. This works not just because it’s funny, but because it’s something 95% of us can identify with. Hey brands, humor is OK when used in the right way right now. It can’t be gratuitous, but if it’s real, it’s got a shot at really being something smart.


Honda – A New Ad, Made During Quarantine, Ends With a Surprise Twist (AdWeek)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Speaking of creativity and imagination…this Honda spot is such a great example of making lemons out of lemonade. With everyone at home, production as we know it has come to a halt. But some agencies are getting crafty. Watch the spot, and delight in the ending. (An unintended outcome of this may be that we’ll all be expected to do create with less, even after all of this ends. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.)


Kraft Canada – Kraft Canada Is Giving Airtime It Already Bought to Small Businesses (Muse by Clio)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): What’s a major consumer packaged goods brand to do when they’ve bought all this media, but really don’t need to advertise their products right now because they’re already flying off store shelves? Well, they could create an ad like the 100+ similar ones mentioned above (Doritos notwithstanding), or, they could put their media spend too MUCH better use.

Like Kraft Heinz Canada, Kraft Heinz Canada is doing. Since they can’t back out of the media buys that were locked-in pre-COVID, they’re donating the airtime and digital inventory to struggling Canadian small businesses. Together with the brand’s agency, Rethink, they’re even donating some production and editorial time to amp up the small biz’s messages. It’s never been more true that “actions speak louder than words.” IMO, this will have more of a lasting impact on Kraft Heinz Canada’s perception and affinity than any ad campaign possibly could.


Venables Bell & Partners – Facejar virtual swear jar aims to collect funds for COVID-19 protective gear (Campaign Live)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): I’ve definitely seen virtual swear jars before (and have even pitched one to a client myself), but this is a great re-tooling of the concept for modern pandemic times. Instead of plugging into your Zoom meeting and charging for a swear, “this video meeting Snap lens, created by Venables Bell & Partners and Firstborn, captures and charges people $1 every time they touch their faces.” And that money is donated to “a grassroots group dedicated to supplying protective gear to healthcare workers.”

This taps into something a few of us at MC have been talking about lately—habits. Instead of simply telling someone not to do something, which is easy to ignore, how do you make the habit undesirable so that they choose not to do it of their own accord? Of course, in this case, it’s a little paradoxical, since in general we want folks not to touch their faces, but the more they do, the more gets donated. But it’s still a really good reminder that in order to change behavior, simply using language isn’t enough.



Orange – Families in isolation can greet elderly loved ones in a new TV campaign in France (Ad Age)

From Melvin (Account Director): As we are all juggling between Zoom Happy Hours, hangouts on House Party, and the now traditional family FaceTime calls, french telecom brand Orange realized that our elders might not have access to smartphones, computers, and tablets leaving them increasingly isolated at a time when they might be the most vulnerable. So, they decided to do something about it.

Based on data that seniors spend an average of 8 hours watching tv, they created a website called “” ( to allow their kids and grandkids to record and upload 5-10 seconds video messages that are then broadcast on tv during commercial breaks of popular news and game shows. The user experience on the platform us seamless with an easy step by step to follow to create and send the video. If your video is chosen, you receive a message letting you know when it will played so you can let your family members know. To date, Orange received over a thousand messages and plan on producing more than 50 montage films. That’s a lovely initiative but part of me makes me wonder if it could be even bigger. It’s not realistic to hold Orange accountable to play ALL messages they receive but that’s where TV networks could step up and pitch in.



Examples of emotion in Tech: the human touch (D & Ad)

From Amy (SVP Creative + Brand Strategy): Sometimes it feels like technology can strip us of the ability to convey and interpret emotions. Especially in email, there’s a tendency to over-explain. We find the need to add endless exclamation points to make sure someone doesn’t take a comment the wrong way. But technology shouldn’t be devoid of human emotion and touch. In fact, there have been some amazing advances in fostering connection over the last few years.



ACLU 4/20 Campaign (ACLU)

From Nicola Leckie (Account Director): Surprise campaign of the week. ACLU creates a 4/20 campaign aimed at the war on drugs. It was a nice break from coronavirus, tbh and Pew Research shows that while donors are concerned about the coronavirus, they are also still concerned about the issues that matter most to them. We appreciate that the ACLU seized the moment on a day known as an unofficial cannabis holiday to HIGHlight a serious issue related to racial discrimination in marijuana law enforcement. ACLU timed the release of their report, “A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform” to coincide with 4/20 and sent an email appeal that directed constituents to a selection of premium options with a gift.



Democrats scramble to close YouTube deficit amid quarantine campaign (Politico)

From Clara (Senior Advocacy Account Strategist): One in five American, U.S. adults say that YouTube is “very important when it comes to helping them understand what’s happening in the world.” Which is why the progressive side should feel scared by how behind it is in the organic content game on YouTube, and why it should be engaging in a serious game of catch up.

As this article in Politico points out, YouTube is after all the country’s leading video platform and also one of its largest search engines (after Google), so this is key digital space progressives will need to capture in the fight for the polls. This brings us back to the Pew research sited at the beginning of this blurb: YouTube is very important to people in helping them understand the world. It’s time progressives learned to earn hearts and minds by connecting with viewers in real and impactful ways. They can spend that ad budget down to the bottom, but unless they can find ways to authentically convene and connect via organic content, YouTube will be one more battleground channel that won’t turn blue.


Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

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

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