Ready for a sunscreen-shitting seagull?
Sir John Hegarty, co-founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty and all-around advertising legend, was jury president of the Titanium and Integrated Lions at Cannes this year. And his jury recognized plenty of brilliant work, including the Titanium Grand Prix winner, REI's #OptOutside campaign.
But at the press conference announcing the winners, Hegarty didn't open his remarks by talking about the top-notch work. He opened by mentioning a Nivea campaign that was so shockingly wretched, it's a wonder it was entered at Cannes at all. In fact, it's a wonder it's not a parody.
His voice dripping with sarcasm, Sir John told the assembled journalists: "One [campaign] we debated long and hard was the flying seagull from Nivea. Without question, this was one of the pieces that caught our attention. … The big, big problem is kids on beaches don't have enough sunscreen on. They run around and it rubs off. So they developed a [robotic] seagull that flies across the beach and basically shits suntan cream from Nivea. This is, as you can understand, something we had to take very seriously."
He was joking, but not really. The seagull is real. Check out the case study here:
"This is, without question, at the cutting edge of technology and brand integration," Hegarty continued. "I think actually they're also teaming up with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, because if you get this stuff in your eyes from the flying seagull, you'll probably need special attention."
At this point, Hegarty was done with the sarcasm. "You should see it," he said. "It's the most stupid thing I think I've seen in my whole life. I actually thought the Monty Python team had gotten together and entered it into [Cannes], to see if we would vote for it."
The case study does read as parody, down to the agency guys hiding in the dunes watching their weird creation crap happiness on everyone. But apparently it isn't a parody. And it surely wouldn't have been entered at Cannes just as a joke.
The funny thing is, the shitting seagull isn't that out of character for Nivea. This is a brand that has pioneered lots of seaside campaigns, from the print ad with the removable bracelet that lets you track your kid on the beach, to the Gravity Award-winning magazine ad that charges your phone, to the sunscreen-applying beach water slide.
The "Care From the Air" campaign just took things to an idiotic level.
The agency behind it, Jung von Matt/Elbe in Germany, seems to acknowledge as much. Reached by Adweek, a rep there admitted the agency had done the campaign but said "the PR department of the client doesn't want PR for it, so we do not promote it."
You don't say.