Aeromexico, Trump, and the creative catalyst

I’m a marketer. An adman. Nobody has ever confused me or my kind with unicorn-chasing idealists. But as I wrote a few posts back, I believe Trump’s mean-spirited measures can actually act as a creative catalyst. Advertisers, designers and persuaders of all stripes, it’s time we did what we do best – and it’s time we did it for the forces of good.

Aeromexico’s marketing provides a brilliant example. When Trump stumped on building the wall during his campaign, the airline (and agency Ogilvy Mexico) responded with a brilliant ad kicking walls in the balls. Check it out here.

This ad is a wonderful lesson on how to turn resistance into art. There’s sex, there’s grainy black and white, there’s raw brutality – and there’s a tagline.

A tagline I’d give my Montblanc for.

“Borders. On land they can maintain distances. But in the sky, they mean nothing. Excuse me, I have a job to do.”

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Superimpose a scintillating Aeromexico jet flying north, and you have the hairs standing on the back of my neck. That’s a brand impression if ever I saw one.

The Aeromexico ad was a high water mark. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a sign of things to come. Because as Trump demonstrated by signing his anti-Muslim immigration order a few days after coming into office, there’s going to be plenty of creative catalysts to work with in the coming months.

Creative catalyst: the power of response

Shortly after Trump signed the order, the Aeromexico ad leapt back into the social media spotlight. Meanwhile, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – himself a master marketer – officially welcomed immigrants from the banned countries to Canada, positioning our country brilliantly in the process.

As reported in The Independent:

“Mr. Trudeau made the heartfelt plea on social media and also uploaded an image of him greeting a Syrian child at Toronto airport.

“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” he tweeted.

The tweet has received over 369,000 retweets so far and “Welcome to Canada” began trending in the country.”

Yes, he tweeted out his welcome. 140 characters that, if we actually live up to our words, could have a profoundly positive impact on our brand image, not to mention our global brand in trade and tourism.

Creative catalyst: find new connections with issues

Trump is signing executive orders like a clown handing out candy. There is no shortage of material to work with here, folks. Smart marketers who want to build alliances of beliefs with outraged citizens might think about how to tie their brand to issues such as:

  • Defending the Affordable Care Act
  • Defending women’s access to Planned Parenthood
  • Defending climate change policy
  • …And the list goes on.

I am NOT advocating tying your brand to an issue willy nilly. Aeromexico’s insight (borders mean nothing when you’re thinking at a higher level / in the air) is core to their business. If a clothing manufacturer had done the ad, it would’ve come off as cloying and opportunistic.

However, if you understand what you stand for, and to whom, this is a golden opportunity.

Who says you can’t score a point for humanity and sell a few plane tickets in the process?

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