Elizabeth Jones, Associate Creative Director

Elizabeth Jones

Associate Creative Director
Hi. I'm Elizabeth Jones, Associate Creative Director at KW2. It’s my job to help our designers and copywriters make things that are engaging, interesting and strategically sound. Mostly, I ask a lot of questions and think a lot of thoughts. Occasionally, I follow that up with some typing. (It’s pretty cool.)
On Cheerios, racism and the rewards of taking risks

On Cheerios, racism and the rewards of taking a risk

A lot has already been said about people’s reactions to that new television ad from Cheerios, the one featuring an interracial couple and their painfully cute little girl. Most of it can be summed up as follows:

One: Emboldened by the delicious anonymity of comment sections everywhere, the world’s racists and the web’s trolls seem determined to ruin the post-racial America we’ve all been finger-crossing for since Grey’s Anatomy first aired and that nice young couple moved into the White House. It’s annoying, disheartening, gross.

Two: Rather than tempt fate—a word which here means the fast-typing fingers of a vocal and (can we just say it?) vile minority—most advertisers, even the progressive and fair-minded ones, will continue to make ads that aren’t quite what you’d call culturally au courant. And in the age of the socially conscious consumer, where being nicely neutral isn’t good enough anymore and apps like Buycott make it easier than ever to ensure what what we buy lines up with what we believe, that’s not just a shame. It’s short-sighted.

And three: Seriously, that girl is dangerously cute.

So, since so much has already been said—on AdWeek and Slate, HuffPo, Jezebel, The Today Show and, heaven help me, The View—I’m just going to say this:

Last year, Pew Research Center calculated that 15% of all new marriages in the U.S. are between people of different ethnicities. That’s more than double the number in 1980. But in thirty-some years of flipping channels and watching ads, I’ve only ever seen two commercials featuring a family who looked anything like mine. Two.

The first one made me a unrepentant Comcast cable apologist, doggedly loyal despite the Facebook pages, yelps, posts and the considered opinion of almost everyone everywhere.

The second one had me buying a box of Cheerios.


A cute sheep

What one man’s forbidden love for a sheep taught me about being a good creative.

A couple of months ago, Gene Wilder taught me about love. It happened somewhere between midnight and 2 am.

To be clear, I’m not a huge Gene Wilder fan. His Richard Pryor/Blazing Saddles/Willy Wonka peak coincided with my domination of the Weisser Park Elementary spelling bee, grades K through 4. So let’s just say I was busy and leave it at that. But in theory, I’ve always liked the funny man with the melancholy face, which is why I watched his biopic instead of going to sleep.

And that’s when he blew my mind.

If you’ve seen Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (thank you, Internet), you know where I’m headed. In the film, Gene Wilder becomes infatuated with a very pretty sheep. And this is where things get interesting. Because Wilder knew making their romance funny meant taking their romance seriously. So he set about getting lovesick. For livestock. For real.

He spent his time off-camera with the two animals who played his love interest, until he could differentiate between the actor sheep, Daisy, and her stunt double. Daisy, he saw, had the prettier eyes. Her lashes were longer and swept over her fuzzy cheek just so. He noticed the sweetness of her temper and the fineness of her coat – so much softer than that other sheep’s. In short, he found concrete reasons to be unreasonably in love.

Which is basically what I try to do for clients and consumers every day.

The thing about working in an ad agency – the thing people who don’t work in an ad agency don’t see – is that it’s not all cars and beer and mobile phones. Sexy products with sexy budgets sold by sexy, sexy people. Boring things need ad agencies too. Like mutual funds. Cotton swabs. And that stuff they put in cereal to give it more fiber.

Fiber is not sexy. But you can love it a little bit. And if you’re a creative, you have to.

As that other great barnyardian, the chicken, has shown us, love trumps every rational argument. And it’s the first step to having a great idea, a solid campaign, a compelling message, a memorable ad, and just maybe, a loyal customer. Because I have absolutely no hope of making perfect strangers feel something real about where they buy their shoes, or download their music, or caramel machiatto their latte if I don’t feel something myself.

And that makes falling a little bit in love an essential part of a creative’s – wait, scratch that—an agency’s process. Call it good messaging strategy if you like. But commit to finding what’s loveable about a brand (not hard to do when you’re working with a company for good), and consumers will feel it too.

By the time that movie wrapped, I bet Gene Wilder would have leapt up in defense of Daisy’s honor. With the same fervency shown by iPhone devotees today, when confronted by a shiny new Galaxy S4.

That’s love for you. It’s irrational. But it’s real.