But before I start discussing the creative concept, there is something I’d like to point out: It’s getting harder and harder to sell something you didn’t help to create, to sell something you don’t see the value of.
Advertising used to be the colourful wrapping paper you put on something to get people to buy into it. But that’s not enough anymore. More and more, creative partners need to be a part of the whole process – to help create things that are sellable. To me, this lack of involvement is one of the main reasons why talented people leave agencies and don't come back. Getting a finished product and being told ‘now sell it’ is a hellish job to do.
But let’s get back to black toilet paper.
The creative concept to sell it is: black is beautiful. As the Brazilian activist, Anderson França wrote: ‘If you type "black is beautiful" anywhere in the world, you will find Angela Davis, Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Fela Kuti, James Baldwin, Nina Simone. But not in Brazil… In Brazil, if you type #blackisbeautiful you will find a roll of toilet paper.’
It (predictably?) sparked serious outrage all over Brazil.
I write ‘predictably?’ because that’s something I’ve been questioning since I first saw the campaign. With all the discussions happening globally and in Brazil about white supremacy and racism, is it possible that everyone who created and approved this campaign was completely oblivious to the implications?
Or, in a world where most of the work we create is ignored, is bad fame better than no fame at all? Who would talk about a new black toilet paper? Now it’s on all major media outlets everywhere. It got Personal VIP Black a level of awareness even good creative work would struggle to obtain.
I don’t know the answer. But, in any case, the brand demoted an iconic racial resistance slogan to a simple matter of pop culture. And, in a world that is already collapsing, that is unthinkable. But in a commoditised, FMCG category like this one, it finally gave people a reason to choose a (different) brand.