Love and hate in adland
A view from Claire Beale

Love and hate in adland

It's a theme apparent in campaigns such as BrewDog and compounded by issues such as politics and climate change.

When we first began planning this issue of Campaign, we could not be certain that the Brexit Party – so avowedly disliked by the communications industry – would enjoy quite such a swell of support in the European elections.

But we were in no doubt that for all his divisive policies, Nigel Farage is an impressive marketer and storyteller whose simple, focused and repetitive messaging enshrines some smart strategic practices. Even as so many despise his views, they admire his approach.

And so almost by accident, love and hate became threads weaving through these pages: from the self-loathing ad campaigns by brands such as BrewDog and Oasis, which overtly criticise the tactics (advertising and marketing) that propel their growth, to the now iconic Benetton campaign that deployed controversial images of love to diff use social tension but drew accusations of cynical exploitation.

It’s a theme that has also been compounded this month by Extinction Rebellion and other climate-change activists, who are targeting the advertising and marketing sectors as engines of destruction. It’s clear that so many people in our business are wrestling with the conflicts arising from doing a job they love but that drives (sometimes unnecessary) consumption – particularly of brands whose own track record on sustainability is unsatisfactory. Love and hate.

It’s mid-July now, so I’m loath to look back to Cannes (an event that we love, of course, at the same time as we recognise that it’s sometimes an obscene use of so much money) but there at least it felt that love had – for now – conquered hate.

Where in previous years Cannes had been dominated by fear and loathing – of the giant tech platforms taking over, the arrival of the management consultants and even the bloated commercialism of the Lions festival itself – this year there was more harmony, more sense of community and more confidence in a comfortable co-existence.

Yes, there was too much "woke-washing" as Unilever’s Alan Jope put it. But there did seem a renewed joy in the fact that we work in an industry with more than its fair share of good, fun, inspiring and determined people. All we need to do now is harness that collective power of love to challenge the chaos and negativity around us. Happy summer.

Topics