How Bad Was This Nivea Bird Poop Sunscreen Project, Really?

By Erik Oster 

Usually, when you capture the attention of a prominent jury member at Cannes, it’s a good thing. But that’s not the case with this Nivea promotion from Jung von Matt/Elbe featuring a remote-control seagull shitting sunscreen called “Care From the Air” (Apparently “Turds From the Bird” was rejected).

Bartle Bogle Hegarty co-founder and Cannes Lion jury president Sir John Hegarty told a group of journalists at the festival, “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.” As you can probably ascertain, that statement was dripping with sarcasm. 

“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,” Hegarty added, before finally dropping the act and saying outright “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.” Ouch. 


Is the promotion really all that bad, though? Check out the case study below and decide for yourself:

As Hegarty explained, the campaign boils down to a remote-control seagull excreting Nivea Kids Sunscreen on unsuspecting children. The idea being that kids, who need sunscreen the most, are the least likely to use it. In the case study video, children run away when their parents try to apply the lotion but apparently their first inclination when hit with bird excrement is to rub it all over themselves. Kids, right?

While this isn’t a new campaign, it hasn’t received much promotion because, as the agency tells Adweek, “the PR department of the client doesn’t want PR for it, so we do not promote it.”

OK, we get that. And yeah, this case study is an execution of a mildly amusing idea that has zero potential for practical real-world applications. But, frankly, we see dumber things almost every day.