A Life More Ordinary

By Richard Brett in Marcoms News on
If there are two big stories at Cannes this year, it’s the continued presence of mind blowing new technology and the ever present rise purposeful marketing, (a trend we called brand activism last year) - with the Lions once again rewarding and celebrating the brands and organisations trying to save the world.
 
But we’ve seen this before. So I’m not going to talk about it. I’m going to talk about a new and different trend emerging that we haven’t seen before.
 
So here’s one - it’s unexpected and also really unexciting (yes, that’s unexciting). It’s the rise of boredom and ordinariness.
 
This insight first dawned on me during a brilliant presentation by a Korean team on Monday, where they showcased a trend called The Power of Boredom – How Ordinary can be Extraordinary. It’s the story of how a very successful television production team, used to making fast and furious television reality and game shows, needed to escape this crazy format and their corresponding crazy lives.
 
So they did exactly want they wanted to do at that moment: they escaped the business of everyday life. All they wanted to do was go to the country, read, cook, play games and watch the rain. So that is exactly what they did. And then they made a TV show about it.
 
It’s called ‘Three Meals a Day’ and it’s the story of four city men who go to a village and grow and cook organic food for a year. There are no bills to pay, no commute, no shopping, no possessions, and no rush. It’s the antithesis of modern life. And it’s incredibly successful.
 
So they’ve made another show ‘Youn’s Kitchen’ about an escape to set up a small restaurant in Bali.
 
Why is this happening? Here’s one theory: wealth was supposed to make our lives easier, but maybe it’s doing the opposite. Our lives are more fast paced, more frenetic, more pressurised than ever, so more and more of us, especially the young, are challenging the desire for more success and more things and looking for an escape. They are celebrating the quiet, ordinary and the boring, and it’s being turned into effective campaigns and content.
 
Two Guys go to the Cinema is play of two guys going to the cinema. They buy a ticket, sit down, and watch a full-length movie. Then leave. It was done to raise awareness of the different VAT rates for theatre and cinema in Spain (by turning a film into a play it was subject to 11% less VAT).
 
One my absolute favourite case studies so far this year is the Cheetos Museum, a PR Gold winner last night. This work is a pure and simple celebration of the ordinary Cheetos cheese flavoured chip. A call out went out to find Cheetos that were shaped like interesting objects to be photographed and put on display in a virtual and real Cheetos Museum. Incredibly the successful, the campaign achieved over one billion media impressions and a 525% jump in website traffic. One Cheeto shaped like Harambe was even sold for US$100,000 on eBay.
 
Gillette’s Gold winning Handle with Care is another great example. Whilst there have been over 4,000 razors designed to be used by yourself, there have been zero to be used by someone else on you. The work tells the story of Kristian Rex who is a full time carer for this father, who has suffered a stroke, and so Kristian has to shave his dad every morning. So Gillette developed the Treo, a razor built specifically for carers, to be used by someone else. A hugely emotive film tells the story of their inspirational, but very ordinary life.
 
Omo’s Longest Live Stream in Cinema History is day long film of a boy doing nothing on his sofa for 23 hours, with only one hour of activity, reflecting the reality of young kids’ lifestyles.
 
The final example is a celebration of bubblewrap. In Korea bubblewrap is used to cover windows in winter to keep the heat in. Inspired by this life hack, Uniqlo created Heat Tech Window. They gave 500,000 window shaped bubble wraps away with every new HeatTech product. Sales jumped 20%.
 
In the midst of our fast paced world, a new counter trend is forming. It’s dull, it’s boring and it’s ordinary. And that’s the point.

Richard Brett is the group managing director of consumer at Ogilvy PR Australia

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