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Creative Director’s Choice: Loyalkaspar’s Beat Baudenbacher on the proliferation of ‘apology ads’


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

August 2, 2018 | 4 min read

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the current work they think is the best out in the ad world – the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

Wells Fargo apology ad

Wells Fargo apology ad

This week, Beat Baudenbacher, chief creative officer and partner at Loyalkaspar, discusses the trend of ‘apology ads’ put out by brands including Uber and Facebook.

Beat Baudenbacher

Over the last couple of years, we have all needed to come to terms with living in a world that has become more unapologetically nationalist, racist and sexist than anything I can remember. Within this depressingly polarizing and venomous environment, I have started to feel like brands have been given a new platform; one that allows them speak more openly and honestly about their values.

Brands can’t spew poison into our cultural conversation because they need people to buy or use their products. However, the days of advertising as pushing products, screaming “buy me!” from the rooftops are gone. Great brands have replaced that approach with a softer and more human tone: “This is who I am and what I believe in; if you agree, I think I can make your life more meaningful/joyful/entertaining, etc.”

But even within this new context, I have been surprised by a recent string of ads that have taken their honesty and responsibilities even further. Facebook, Uber and Wells Fargo have released their own version of ‘apology ads’.

Facebook has chosen to tap into our feelings of nostalgia, reminding us of a time (that now seems so far away) when reconnecting with your high school classmates in an immediate way truly felt new and different. Wells Fargo acknowledges that they have lost people’s trust and that they’re going to commit to earning that trust back.

And Uber banks on being able to leave behind an exposed toxic leadership culture by showcasing their new CEO, who promises to have listened to both communities and employees since taking over and to turn those conversations into writing “Uber’s next chapter”.

If any of those promises will be kept and lead to actual change remains to be seen. Regardless, simply the acknowledgment of not living up to expectations and the acceptance of responsibility is refreshing to me. And gives me a little hope.

Beat Baudenbacher is chief creative officer and partner at creative branding agency Loyalkaspar.

See the three apology ads by clicking the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you would like to feature a creative director in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Creative Works editor Kyle O’Brien.

Meta, Uber and Wells Fargo: Apology ads

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