Ad Nut
May 8, 2019

Thai company touts high-contrast furnishings for vision-impaired people

HomePro and BBDO Bangkok tout a line of easy-to-see home items. In other news, it looks like award-bait season has rolled around again.

Thailand-based home-furnishings retailer HomePro, with BBDO Bangkok, claims to have developed furniture items in colours that provide a 7:1 contrast ratio—the better for visually impaired people to see them.

The eternally optimistic creature in Ad Nut believes that this is a genuine effort to create a product that fills a void for a group of people whose needs aren't usually considered.

The crusty, bitter cynic in Ad Nut believes that this is an effort to get glowing publicity and win some awards by slapping bright paint on a few pieces of furniture and making a nice video about it.

Which Ad Nut is right? Looks like it's time for another discussion of Ad Nut's least favourite but unavoidable topic: Award bait.

As Ad Nut's legions of longtime readers (Hello? Is this thing on?) are well aware, award bait tends to crop up every single year at about this time as agencies the world over finish up their award entries for Cannes Lions and other shows.

As Ad Nut explained in this video last year, award bait is not inherently bad. Rather it exists along a continuum. On the commendable end, you get ideas that have made a real impact or at least have a strong chance of doing so. On the deplorable end, you get insincere nonsense that:

  • Exists only because it might transmute performative concern about some disadvantaged group into award metal
  • Is distasteful because it tries to exploit said group for emotional resonance without providing much—or any—tangible benefit.

While few pieces of work exist all the way at one of these extremes, most award bait has one thing in common: A maddening lack of detail and definition—a willful unwillingness to actually specify what is really going on.

Take the work in question today, for example.

The information Ad Nut received is full of statistics about the incidence of vision impairment and about how 90% of furniture uses similar colours that are hard for visually impaired people to distinguish from a background.

The material also discusses how BBDO based the colour schemes on "an international vision enhancement method by W3C organization, which makes a content or object visible at Level AAA standard (a highest level of visibility)". Now, W3C is the organisation responsible for development of World Wide Web standards, so Ad Nut is not sure how applicable its work is in real-world living rooms. But at least there's some modicum of science being applied here. 

Also on the positive side, HomePro has apparently displayed the 7:1 items at a real-life furniture trade show:

This supplied photo was tagged "Bangkok Furniture Fair 2019", an event that took place in March.


The press release (which some publications have dutifully and uncritically reproduced, Ad Nut can't help but note) says the companies collaborated "to develop" the furniture, and offers the following ringing statement:

7:1 Furniture Collection visually erases impairment at home for the visual-impaired, while still appealing to people with normal vision, allowing everyone to be living fully in their own home.

Sounds great. But let's look at what's conspicuously absent: 
  • We get no details about whether the products are actually in production and/or for sale, or whether there are firm plans to put them on sale at any point in the future.
  • There's no mention of an actual media campaign about this new product line. 
  • The above video does not appear on HomePro's social channels, at least as far as Ad Nut can tell (Ad Nut grabbed it from BBDO Bangkok's YouTube channel, where it currently has 112 views).
  • There's no mention of the 7:1 products on the HomePro Thailand website, at least as far as Ad Nut can find.

All of which makes Ad Nut suspect that this is nothing more than a concept at this point.

And here's the thing: "Nothing more than a concept at this point" is 100%, absolutely, without any sarcasm or sly criticism, FINE!

It's the lack of clarity and the pretending that drives Ad Nut...nuts. A brand floating an idea to see if there's interest in it is actually pretty smart. And an agency helping a brand define a new kind of product concept is legitimately valuable. So why can't you be forthcoming and honest and clear?

This post is filed under...
Award bait: We assess suspiciously purpose-driven work

Oh, because that wouldn't create the impression that you're changing the world. And because creating the impression that you're changing the world is a formula for getting cheap, uncritical publicity and winning awards. Or at least people still believe it is. Until that changes, Ad Nut will continue to rant about this, even though Ad Nut is well aware that Ad Nut sounds like a crazed lunatic, shrieking into an uncaring wilderness.

Ad Nut has reached out to BBDO for additional information and comment, which Ad Nut eagerly awaits.

Update, 14 May: Ad Nut is happy to report that, according to a spokesperson, the 7.1 furniture collection is being produced as an in-house brand and is available at select HomePro outlets. In addition, the brand plans to release more items into the collection later this year.

CREDITS

Client: Homepro
Agency: BBDO Bangkok
Creative Chairman: Suthisak Sucharittanonta
Chief Creative Officer: Anuwat Nitipanont
Creative Director: Nopharit Dusadeedumkoeng
Art Director: Annop Khunwong
Copywriter: Thamonwan Rojanawanichkit
Designer: Teerapol O-Charoen
Business Director: Kiatikun Siriwetchmongkolchai
Group Account Director: Jutatat Pattanodom
Group Account Director: Tanyawan Wongapichart
Traffic Director: Thitiporn Kittikawinwong
Project manager: Atitan Thongmak

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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