Published on Mai 8th, 2011 | by Gerald

White Bull Army. Everything that was ever wrong with Ad Awards in just one Video.

A little update to this article: After bashing the video below as “either an extremly sarcastic subtle protest against ignorance in advertising. Or the saddest thing in the industry” I was now contacted by a couple of people who commented that anyone (except me) found it extremely obvious that it is not the saddest things but a very subtle protest. But what is it that this video wants to achieve?

Is it taking the piss out of award videos?

Pink Pony does that without touching the Sudanese civil war. Is it supposed to remind us of South Sudan? Not really. So in fact whatever it was that this video wanted to be ironical about – it crossed the line from irony to cynicism.

To make my point I. I don’t give a damn if this is an official award video. I just think it’s extremely tasteless and stands for a very acultural cynicism typical for too many people in this industry. Generate buzz no matter through which method. That’s pathetic.

Follow the rest of the conversation on adland.tv

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Actually everything that was ever wrong with ad awards can be studied in the video above.

It is a submission to the Future Lions, a sub-award of the well known Cannes Lions. And it is given to anyone (you can be a private person) who comes up with a hypothetical idea for an existing brand that wasn’t technically possible five years ago.

So the video showcases a hypothetical idea on how to promote a beer in the soon to be independent state Southern Sudan. Key elements of the story are true. White Bull Lager is in fact the first major locally produced beer in Southern Sudan. But the hypothetical campaign described in the film gave me inner mouth vomit.

It does not just show a deep lack of historical and political understanding – it’s just cynical (even worse than Jung von Matt’s great guerilla stunt that took the piss out of German anti Nuclear protestors…2 months before Fukushima).

Stuff like this is the end result when ignorance meets fake caring. Seriously? This is either an extremly sarcastic subtle protest against ignorance in advertising. Or it is one of the saddest things I have ever seen coming out of the industry. Two million people died in Sudan and some hipster presents beer logos on T-72 tanks to win an award. Oh…the best part: In the end they even dare to dedicate this to the people of South Sudan. Makes me want to kill myself.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/boatstring Jennifer Sheridan

    I cannot believe how seriously you have taken this. Its obviously a satire video demonstrating all that is wrong with advertising (your job right?). It is not as you seem to think ‘a reflection of fake caring and ignorance’. 1. Most people don’t even know about what happened in Sudan (ignorance) and 2. (fake caring) you mean sarcasm – made evident by the over cheesy music and slow mo animal shots. All they did was fulfill the brief by using a product and a country that didn’t exist 5 years ago and combine them (albeit in a controversial way).

  • Anonymous

    You know what the problem is? I have seen dozens of similar cases. I have seen people making fun ads out of 9/11, marketing guys taking the piss out of environmentalists…and it fucking makes me cry to see that. Is that a satire? Sure? No – it’s just one more example that there is nothing too sensitive to ridicule it…just because it’s possible. Sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=568241049 Steven Leeming

    Your entire article just proves how nobody in the ad industry has any concept of self-awareness. It’s as clear a satire as there ever was, but i’m guessing the fact it hits a little too close to home is what makes it uncomfortable for you, not the suffering of the people of the Sudan, of whom i’m guessing despite having a plaform in the media, you’ve previously done very little to nothing to raise awareness of apart from using ‘Sudan’ as a meta-tag in this post to draw attention to your own blog.

    I’d also like to draw people’s attention to your blog’s title ‘Davai Davai’, which in your about section you jokingly refer to it as what your granny shouted as she fled from the advancing Red Army in Poland – a country that suffered 5.5 million deaths in WW2. and many more under the subsequent Soviet occupation.

    See? It’s very easy to play the faux-sanctimony card.

  • Anonymous

    Ah….nobody in the ad industry has any concept of self-awareness. I love generalizations. But alright. I never pretended to be an activist and I am not quite sure where you got this from. Anyway I have seen zillions of things similar to yours. I don’t know what this video wants to achieve but if it wants to keep the guys who love to laugh about everything (because everything can be broken ironically) laughing – fair enough. That cynical. Not ironic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=568241049 Steven Leeming

    I think you’re in the wrong industry for idealism personally. There’s no more cynical industry than advertising and marketing, where the intention is to reduce individuals into easy demographics and manipulate their buying habits, and in the case of viral campaigns, their very thoughts – the very essense of making generalizations surely?

    This is a satire of that attitude – where everything is a commodity and nothing is sacred. Nobody is laughing at the Sudanese here. I honestly think you’ve completely missed the point.

    And it isn’t ‘my’ video – I had nothing to do with it.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks a lot for the update on idealism – but I don’t think so. There is more to political thinking than a charity campaign or – alternatively – making fun of horrible tragedies. There sometimes is also the chance to shut the fuck up about sensitive things. Of course, there is a chance to make a great satire out of political tragedies such as this. But mixing a satire about advertising by using Sudan as a metaphor is exactly the useless crap I want to criticize here. That’s why I don’t miss the point here. It does not matter if this is an offical award entry or not. It’s horrific one way or the other. Simply because it shows a lot of lack of respect.

  • http://twitter.com/boatstring Jennifer Sheridan

    The edit you made to your article is confusing. Why do you keep bringing up its officialism as an award entry no one has questioned
    that but you.

    It seems whatever anyone says your not going to change your opinion on this and maybe thats a good thing, as at face value it appears your looking out for the underdog who can’t speak up for themselves, nice guy.

    In reality though I think your someone who IS cynical – about media awards or something and you were just looking for an example you could use to vent your hate for these types of awards and you found a vdieo you could bash while looking like the good guy. Well done mate!

    The truth is, at the beginning you toyed with the idea it was a sarcastic comment to cover yourself by the fact that it is. Now though you’ve argued against me and another guy (using swear words btw, its not smart, cool or clever) and your like a stick being driven further into the mud.

    So I give up on you, but I do hope the others who read this will see the video for what it really is and take it with a pinch of salt.

    … and one more thing- nothing is sacred in the world of irony mate nothing! If we can’t laugh in the face of adversity we should all just kill ourselves – a theory proven by your article as taking your view on things made you want to kill yourself. Well don’t do that – its silly.

  • http://twitter.com/boatstring Jennifer Sheridan

    The edit you made to your article is confusing. Why do you keep bringing up its officialism as an award entry no one has questioned
    that but you.

    It seems whatever anyone says your not going to change your opinion on this and maybe thats a good thing, as at face value it appears your looking out for the underdog who can’t speak up for themselves, nice guy.

    In reality though I think your someone who IS cynical – about media awards or something and you were just looking for an example you could use to vent your hate for these types of awards and you found a vdieo you could bash while looking like the good guy. Well done mate!

    The truth is, at the beginning you toyed with the idea it was a sarcastic comment to cover yourself by the fact that it is. Now though you’ve argued against me and another guy (using swear words btw, its not smart, cool or clever) and your like a stick being driven further into the mud.

    So I give up on you, but I do hope the others who read this will see the video for what it really is and take it with a pinch of salt.

    … and one more thing- nothing is sacred in the world of irony mate nothing! If we can’t laugh in the face of adversity we should all just kill ourselves – a theory proven by your article as taking your view on things made you want to kill yourself. Well don’t do that – its silly.

  • Anonymous

    Swear words? I beg your pardon. I did not insult anyone. And no, I don’t need this video to express my hate. There is no hate – there are just examples like that. Examples that I refuse to take with a bit of salt. You think nothing is sacred in the world of irony? I like that? But produce an ironic video about a sad political process. Or make fun of awards. But don’t make fun of human tragedies. That’s lame.

  • http://twitter.com/stephanhoberg Stephan Hoberg

    I think you have to ask the people in Southern Sudan if they find this video showing a lack of respect and I wouldn’t think so. Think you take the whole thing a bit too serious. We are talking about beer and advertising, nothing to be too serious about!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard that before. I guess that’s a matter of perspective. If we did not talk about one of the most horrific civil wars in one of the poorest and most oppressed countries of the world, I would agree. But really…I don’t think I take that too seriously. I think most don’t take that seriously enough.

  • Alexander Wipf

    I don’t know what industry YOU’re in, but if you are seriously trying to say that being in advertising and marketing requires you to be cynical, you have been living under a friggin’ rock. Sure, cynicism provides relief from a stressful job, as a sort of venting. That’s true for any stressful job. But even the most stressed out ad guy knows that cynicism has never done anything constructive and creative in anyone’s life. And it doesn’t provide business growth either. Nor is it helpful to to show your creative out of the box thinking. It’s automatically self-referential and backward looking. Yawn. Being creative means avoiding cynicism as much as you can.

    There is also no problem with breaking with conventions. Sometimes you really need to. And I admire people who can. But sometimes, you just gotta grow up and ask yourself if the means justify the end.

    There is simply a difference in knowing WHY you break with conventions and not knowing why. This viral doesn’t know why. It has no purpose, no meaningful end, whatsoever. Or rather, the purpose it has is too small and insignificant in comparison to the way it chose to communicate and address this purpose. So it’s not about morals, activism, do-goody malarkey. It’s simply about this viral having a low purpose/act ratio. Even if this viral idea could be called “original” it simply doesn’t have enough purpose to hold up. That’s why it is loud and sensationalist, not more and not less. And in fact, because of this, it actually aggrandizes Advertising even more. It is a caricature of a caricature of the advertising industry, which tells people: it’s okay to be this way.

    So, whenever you are ready to graduate from an infantile and sophomoric “you don’t get it, it’s a parody” argument, you gotta simply accept this fact: when you touch on sensitive areas like war and genocide to shake people up, you better have a worthwhile purpose other than satiring the ad industry, or, a lot more talented (say, as talented as Eddie Izzard). And sorry, I am not cynical enough to believe that advertising is important enough to require a warstricken country as a metaphor for advertising’s propensity to aggrandize itself and glorifying its output. You could have gotten the same point across by building a castle out of feces and setting it aflame in front of the WPP, Omnicom, and Publicis headquarters. Granted, there might be other more constructive ways to make that point, but it would have been a more appropriate act to serve the purpose of pointing out discontent with the advertising industry, than using the Sudan’s recent history. Parody for the sake of parody is simply fostering uninspired behavior. In other words: it is not creative.

    Without a meaningful purpose that creates some kinda qualitative difference in people’s lives, it is feckless rubbish.

    Btw, this discussion always comes up in the context of shockvertising, too. How disgusting do you have to be to make a point (that usually people are already aware of anyway), say for road safety? It’s a hard line to walk. But in this case it seems like the line wasn’t even discussed, considered or seen. It was bulldozed over with no other purpose than to morbidly and self-referentially giggle like little spoiled brats.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CQZPLPPSHT6QRREJ4QOFGGZFRM Candy

    I’ am a southern Sudanese and I did find some things in the video to be offensives. I don’t think we need beer, we need to get up on our feet fix our home. How is beer going to do that? Oh i also hated the end of the video when he said they didn’t just launch a beer they a country. 

  • Anonymous

    You have probably followed the thread. I absolutely agree – it’s wrong in so many ways.

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