Ad Nut
Aug 26, 2020

Chen Kun, Spike Lee and Taron Egerton have the right equipment to 'make a mark'

A new global campaign from Montblanc asserts that 'everyone can leave a mark'. But it gives the clear impression that a nice pen is not the only phallic object that's required to do so.

A fancy pen is required to make a mark in the world. And so is a penis.

Anyway, that's the conclusion Ad Nut is forced to draw from a new global campaign for Montblanc by Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam.

The campaign features three celebrities from important markets: Chen Kun from China, Taron Egerton from the UK and Spike Lee from the US. Accomplished and admirable people, to be sure. And all of them, in case it escapes your notice, are possessors of penises.

This is a major campaign, with which the brand aims to "reintroduce itself to the world with the help of three exceptional individuals who are redefining what success means today". For its part, the agency says that the intent is to "establish Montblanc as the maison of luxury business lifestyle". W+K adds that the campaign will "focus on redefining the codes of business success".

So, the enjoyment of luxury lifestyle and the redefinition of the codes of business success—those are domains exclusively for men? It sure seems like it. So in Ad Nut's mind, all the campaign does is establish the brand as sexist and appallingly, incomprehensibly, tone-deaf.

Ad Nut's friends at Campaign Asia-Pacific have asked for comment from the brand and/or agency, and Ad Nut sincerely hopes to learn some mitigating information. Perhaps the campaign has additional materials in the chamber featuring women who are redefining what success means today. Perhaps the male focus is on purpose, and there is an entirely separate campaign in the works aimed at women*.  

But you know what? It's too late. Even if any of those things turns out to be true, it doesn't change anything. You can't escape the fact that the brand and its agency advisors deliberately chose these three stories, about three men, to make Montblanc's big, uppercase-letters-in-boldface initial STATEMENT.

Many, many people worked on all of this for a long, long time and they spent a crap-ton of money. And all the while, they ignored half of the population. And then, they dared to say that it's about how 'everyone' can make a mark. And furthermore they had the gall to claim they're presenting a new vision of business success, while actually putting forward an old, exclusionary and inaccurate image.

It's pathetic and disheartening and inexcusable. It's actually making Ad Nut feel sick.

The work itself is—unsurprisingly given it's from W+K—of a high quality. The three stars are good ambassadors, and their stories are compelling.

But who the hell cares? Dismissed! 

(Ad Nut is done with this, but the editors have insisted that Ad Nut include the other two films below, and that Ad Nut also explain that there's a whole bunch of interviews and stuff that will be released as the campaign runs. So there.)

* Ad Nut would not agree that a separate campaign for women would be a good strategy. But at least it would be a strategy. And at least it would show that the brand is aware that women exist. That said, Ad Nut also wouldn't be surprised if such a campaign featured pink pens.

Update, August 27: A spokesperson said the campaign will include female ambassadors in local markets, including China.

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.



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