INCMI: September

Be kind and rewind, because there’s some history to catch up on from these past couple of months. We didn’t start the fire, we’re just here to witness it and report back to you about it. How bout those flames?

Did you know a hamburger is statistically way more likely to kill you than the AstraZeneca vaccine? Advertising agencies have come together and created a campaign focusing on debunking the myths behind vaccination safety, serving as a reminder that oh, yeah, I need to call the chemist.

Another PSA doing a fantastic job is Adam and Eve’s funny, irreverent Paralympic campaign designed to destigmatise those with disabilities by changing the usual narrative. It turns out that disabled people don’t want to be either pitied or put on a pedestal, but rather treated as human beings. Who knew?

OkCupid’s new campaign is a love letter to inclusivity. Promoting their inclusion of 22 gender identities and 20 sexual orientations when personalising one’s options, their colourful, fun new ads highlight that they are for ‘every single person.’ So you can now come as you are, as a friend, as you want your prospective romantic partner to be.

Mood Tea encourages us to ‘sip selflessly’ with their new ads to combat youth suicide. Over sixty media and marketing businesses have come together to create this new campaign and all profits raised will go towards funding mental health charities which are helping save young lives.

Also making steps to help the mental health of others, Instagram is rolling out new features to combat racism and hate speech on their platform. Featuring stronger warnings and the ability to limit comments to stop those people who randomly join in a post to shout racist bullshit. If only we had that feature in real life, you wouldn’t have to talk to that one weird uncle anymore.

Instagram has also recently decreed that an Yves Saint Laurentfashion ad has breached the health and safety section of their advertising code for featuring a model that’s too skinny, as it turns out forcing women to starve themselves to meet an unachievable goal set by an ever changing industry isn’t actually very healthy. Time will tell if other brands start rethinking the kinds of models they use, even if only out of fear of ad standards.

One change in the fashion industry has been noticed in a recent Vox article linking the rise in thrifting and sustainability amongst young shoppers with the fact that Gen Z has never known a world without unethical fast fashion. Gen Z is rejecting the idea that fashion is inherently disposable and taking a more DIY approach like they’re all Molly Ringwald at the end of Pretty in Pink. The kids are alright, and they can sew now too.

While we’re on the subject of those young whippersnappers, Tiktok has set a challenge to recreate three classic commercials for Skittles,Snickers and Old Spice. Yes, they probably are the ads you’re thinking of right now. Because one thing will always be eternal, and it’s the way everyone can still hear the voice of the man your man can smell like when they look at an Old Spice bottle.

But how do you shine a light on your branding when you work in an industry that hides in the shadows? Sex, drugs and, presumably, rock and roll are front and centre in this spotlight on three products that are part of a taboo industry and the challenges that come with marketing in that world.

The State Library Victoria’s newest collection is highlighting the history of an iconic Australian brand, Redhead Matches. Take a lesson in how design and storytelling can transform a disposable object into something still being collected after seventy years.

For those still not done learning from history, here’s a collection of the top movie taglines of all time, so that you too can start a debate with your roommate over whether it was wrong to rank Superman below Taxi Driver.

The four-letter word you should always use with clients.

Alison Rentoul Head of Strategy

The four-letter word you should always use with clients.

Every company has (or should have!) their values, mission statement and vision defined and ready to impart to eager new employees. On my first day at The Incubator, I sat down with Jeremy, our CEO, to nut out our plans and objectives for the road ahead and receive a download from him about The Incubator ‘way’. Pen in hand and ready to absorb the pearls of wisdom about to be imparted, as Jeremy began to speak, I dutifully took down his words.

F-U-C-K-I-N-G  C-A-R-E, I wrote. And then stopped, pen poised, waiting for more. But no further words were forthcoming. I looked up. Jeremy looked at me. “That’s it,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”

As someone who deeply believes you should only ever do something with care, or not do it at all, in that moment I knew I’d truly found my people.

In the year since this, I have come to learn not only is Jeremy a man of his word, but he is also absolutely a man of these particular two words, in every sense. This ‘mantra’, for want of a better term, infiltrates every aspect of our daily work at The Incubator. Not in a trite, put it up on the wall and pretend to worship kind of way, but in a very real, we actually do it kind of way.

Those two words float through my mind every time I’m about to send a client email, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Is this email as succinct, helpful, friendly and informative as it can possibly be? Could I make it easier to read, shorter or simpler? Have I attached the document or link referred to, to save them looking it up? Have I kept the job number in the subject to make the string easier to refer back to? Is the work or attachment I’m sending the best it can be? Has it been proofed, checked and double checked to save wasting their time?

When I’m working on creative, I ask myself: have we considered every angle? Even if I think we have, I take a few minutes to think it through one more time, just to make sure. Is this work going to serve the client, their customers, our community and even the world in the best possible way? Or could we push it that bit further? Dig that bit deeper, and go that extra mile to unearth something truly great?

In building connections with suppliers, I hold those two words at the heart of our relationship. Give them what they need so they can produce their best possible work for us, and so we all get to shine. Respect, respect and respect some more. And choose partners who work the same way, who demonstrate that they, in turn, really really care.

Recently we brought three new juniors into our team; and guess what was the number one hiring criteria? Yes, we considered their experience, work and talent. But more than anything, we considered their capacity to care. Of the hundreds who applied, the three we selected were not quite as experienced as others on the list: but they all demonstrated they had the right character to live and breathe The Incubator way. As one of my mentors once told me: hire character, train skill. You can always teach people how to do new things, but you can’t teach anyone how to have the right attitude—if it’s not already part of their nature.

In a world where cutting corners, rushing, bodging and ‘that’ll do’ has become far too common, it’s both reassuring and heartwarming to work with a group of people who still value doing things properly. It’s a point of difference we pride ourselves on, and one so deeply built into our DNA it’s become second nature. I love this about us, and I know our clients do too.

So as you go about your work today, see how often those two words pop into your head, and notice when and where taking those few extra moments to reflect on this fundamentally improves the quality of your work and interactions. It’s surprising how much richer your work and life becomes, when you really Fu@king Care about everything you do.

Boys in the bath - Sophie Hanlon

26. July. 2021

Boys in the Bath

Sophie Hanlon Designer & Copywriter

“I would never buy your deodorant just based on your terrible crap poofy ad. Keep your gay tainted ads off my tv you bunch of idiots.”

What makes a deodorant commercial one of the most complained about ads in all of 2020?

The above complaint, and countless equally charming others, were received last year by the Advertising standards board regarding a series of Tradie body spray and body wash ads featuring comedy duo, The Inspired Unemployed. These ads received vitriol, not because of any shocking or controversial opinions expressed by the pair, but simply because they were situated in the same bathroom as one another when talking about the product. Try to contain your horror.

The complaints received all seem to stem from the same homophobic ideology: “It’s hard to believe this advert was approved to be shown on TV as it contains audible sounds of grunting and exhilaration that are matched to a couple having sex.” It doesn’t matter that the ads are comedic, it seems for a certain sector of the Australian public, the barest of contact between men might still as well be a homosexual orgy of roman proportions.

However, despite partaking in the same actions considered gay in the previous ads, the recent release of Tradie Bodywash’s new series of advertisements featuring players from the Melbourne Storm rugby club didn’t seem to garner the same vitriolic reaction. It’s a scary thought that men are required to be football giants with obliques sharp enough to cut someone before they are considered masculine enough to share a bathroom with another man.

It’s interesting that many of the critics hid prudishly behind the commandments of advertising standards as the foundation of their umbrage. These complaints seem to point more towards a precarious ideal of outdated masculinity than any real moral affront.

…Or, to quote a popular podcast’s catchphrase: ‘Toxic Masculinity ruins the party again.’

Toxic Masculinity denotes the behaviour of men conforming to archaic definitions of ‘maleness’: in other words, machismo, violence and sexism. As Michael Flood wrote in 2018, “The term typically is used to refer to the narrow, traditional, or stereotypical norms of masculinity which shape boys and men’s lives.” These norms include the expectations that boys and men must be active, aggressive, tough, daring, and dominant.” Its hallmarks are the alpha-male oppression of others, rejecting so-called ‘soft’ emotions and encouraging overtly sexist behaviour. Oh, hello Patriarchy. A particularly poisonous blend of misogyny and homophobia, Toxic masculinity decrees feminine or ‘gay’ behaviour in men is not just unacceptable, but even cause for outrage and anger.

But what exactly is so threatening about moving the ancient gender goalposts? Could it be these ‘old school’ men are threatened by the inherent vulnerability of expressing their feelings, exposing their soft underbellies, or embracing their inner femininity? And do they cling onto these outdated ideals even at the expense of their own mental health and wellbeing?

It’s been well documented that emotional suppression leads to increased psychological problems in men, such as depression, substance abuse, addictive behaviours and even suicide. Joseph Vandello, a social psychologist and Professor at the University of South Florida is quoted as saying “Part of the problem among men is that one of the markers of traditional masculinity is independence and rejection of help.” Restricting the way men can relate to each other through the threat of shame and ridicule, leads to a culture of male self-reliance and silence that obstructs emotional development and discourages men from seeking help. “No matter where the turmoil in modern men’s lives comes from, it seems like there would be a clear benefit to men feeling confident in seeking help to cope with mental illness and change the behaviors that harm their health—and that risk hurting others,” writes Amanda Mull in The Atlantic.

How great then, that in spite of the outrage and vitriol still spewing forth from the terrified gender rigid, this new generation of men aren’t afraid of blurring those gender lines. The Inspired Unemployed have built a huge following on their own quirky brand of gender-fluid skewed masculinity. From embracing their ‘bromance,’ to cross-dressing and camp, they have no problem mocking the traditional stereotypes men have been boxed into.

The men from the Melbourne Storm aren’t scared either. These athletes embrace and embody the noblest elements of maleness, like pride in one’s work and the mateship of sport, but they didn’t bat an eyelid at our scripts and scenarios. On the day of shooting, right from the get-go the players were building each other’s confidence offscreen, supporting their mates to deliver the best performances. And once the cameras were rolling, they commanded the screen with confidence and charm, completely oblivious to the so-called ‘shock factor‘ of being in a bubble-bath with another bloke.

Australia has had a long history of sloth-like change when it comes to evolving societal attitudes. A study by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that, “throughout the year 2012, verbal abuse had been experienced by a quarter of all gay men and lesbians, 47% of trans men and 37% of trans women.” Our true embarrassment as a country should not be that we managed to lose both a Prime Minister and a war with emus, but that America beat us to having marriage equality. No one should lose to the United States in a progressiveness race.

In spite of this, progress is being made every day in this country, and our attitudes are changing. Instead of trying to drag everyone kicking and screaming back into a toxic gender-binary past, we think it’s time these curmudgeonly old complainers caught up with the rest of us. At the very least, if these Tradie ads are anything to go by, being a true new man is a hell of a lot of fun.

Check them out for yourself, and let us know what you think!