What’s so funny about peace, love and post-lockdown branding?


Tender music starts. “This is the checkers game where grandson and granddad will bond …” How many times has that Vrbo ad been served to YOU during lockdown? For me, it’s about 525,600. But after all, Vrbo’s brand mission is “to find every family the space they need to relax, reconnect, and enjoy precious time away together.” Well, they really nailed that “find every family” part. They found me everywhere, and on every device. And maybe, as a result, I stayed at no less than three Vrbos since lockdown.

If advertising during the pandemic taught us how to stay connected through Zoom calls at vacation rentals, then post-lockdown ads are teaching us to rip off our masks and dance in the street. Why, it seems like only yesterday I was postulating on if your brand even should create a pandemic-theme ad. So as we physically and mentally return to the world of “together,” I thought it might be fun to give a few more brands a little report card based on how well their current campaigns adhere to their brand mission. It’s what we do for fun here.


I guess I wasn’t the only one Zillow surfing (NSFW?) during the pandemic. And if you were the least bit scared to make that move during what has been dubbed “the great reshuffling,” Zillow has an ad for you. Maybe this commercial is targeted towards children because I don’t know any adults who consider moving to a new home lately anything but a nice dream. But with a brand mission of “giving people the power to unlock life’s next chapter,” Zillow did rise to the challenge in their storybook-dream spot, “to move is to grow.” Grade: B


Listen. I love a good soda pop ad — especially after reading “The Care and Feeding of Ideas” by It’s-the-Real-Thing ad man, Bill Backer. And I love the original soundtrack of Annie. But I am not exactly sure what Pepsi (no stranger to ad fails) is trying to say with their “the mess we miss” spot. It starts out kind of sweet, but the ad quickly crashes into germ-laden scenes like cruise ship shrimp cocktail, greasy chicken wing fingers and getting sweat-sprayed by a headbanger. With a brand mission of “creating more smiles with every sip and every bite” this Pepsi ad seems more appropriate for hand wipes. Call me a germaphobe, but this one is … messy. Grade: D


Speaking of creating smiles, “better moments, more smiles” is the brand purpose of the folks at Wrigley’s, and they’ve been putting that into action for years. I mean, their ads are fun-ny. Their latest spot, “for when it’s time,” is no disappointment. As part of a wider campaign to help “get your ding back” this commercial does lean into better moments and continues to be a source of many smiles. In fact I almost thought I spotted my teammate, Sam Hogerton at the 0:35 mark. I give this one an A, and I don’t even like Celine Dion. Grade: A

I hope my lil ad reviews brought you a few smiles. Without going into the very real fear, tragedy and loss of the lockdown (guess I just did) it is nice to see everyone cautiously stepping out and getting their ding back. And let’s face it, if some ad makers are struggling to communicate in these complicated times, it’s because everyone is. So if your brand finds itself at a loss for words, hit us up.