February 1, 2019

ZEITLINES | 02.01.19


The week leading up to Super Bowl is one of the noisiest in the marketing world, as brands find all kinds of interesting ways to drop their celebrity-saturated, overpriced TV spots in advance of the big game. If you’re looking for chatter about those ads you will have to look elsewhere. While we think they are funny and entertaining, hype isn’t really our ‘thing’, so we’ll leave that to others (and there is sooooo much hype to be had). Here at Zeitlines we are more comfortable with the idea of brand storytelling. There are really only a couple of types: authentic storytelling and something less-than-authentic. This week, we explore this notion by examining Weston Foods Dave's Killer Bread activation, Gillette’s provocative “The Best Men Can Be” commercial and Virgil Abloh’s debut Louis Vuitton show - the good, the bad and the ugly.


Weston Foods Bread Delivers a Brand with Conviction

Beverley Hammond, CEO

“For us it goes beyond baking the best bread in the universe – it’s about believing everyone is capable of greatness, creating lasting change in our community and so much more.”


Here at Republic we believe “what you stand for is as important as what you sell”, so Weston Foods Toronto pop-up sandwich shop for their Dave’s Killer Bread brand - ‘Club Fed’ (sandwiches for second chances) falls into the category of  ‘work we wish we had done’. Simply put, it’s a killer idea.

Unlike most Canadians, I already knew the story of Dave’s Killer Bread. Well, sort of. I knew the founder was an ex-con who turned his life around with this bakery. One of those terrific Cinderella stories that entrepreneurs like me read about regularly in Inc. and Forbes. What I didn't know was the extent to which Dave had committed himself and the company to helping others do the same.

I do now, thanks to Club Fed. The restaurant’s menu is curated by Chef Marc Thuet host of TV’s Conviction Kitchen, all of the recipes are made with Dave’s Killer Bread and the place is staffed by former convicts who are trying to integrate back into society. With 50 per cent of proceeds going to charities that provide new opportunities to ex-convicts and people in at-risk communities, this initiative is not just a play on the founder’s extraordinary story, it communicates the brand’s values at every touchpoint. On site, the shop provides an opportunity for patrons to get to know the people Dave’s is trying to help through both stories and IRT interactions. The fact that it’s located in the middle of Toronto’s ritziest shopping neighbourhood is one more incredible thing about this activation. It is brave, in-your-face and honest, like the brand itself.

Weston Foods bought the company a couple of years ago, and along with their experiential agency Mosaic, has brilliantly delivered what we at Republic call a fully convergent marketing strategy.  – enabling exposure to and trial of, the product (which is really good, FWIW) in a way that authentically delivers the brand’s important social justice mission.

Club Fed is open in Yorkville from Jan 28th to Feb 10th. If you’re in Toronto, go there, buy some lunch, talk to the person who is looking after you and learn about second chances.   Wherever you may be reading this, head on down to the nearest supermarket and pick up a loaf of Dave Dahl’s second chance – Dave’s Killer Bread. Go on, “buy a loaf, change a life”, I promise you will feel really great about it.

Hey, Boardroom Boys: Pink Tax that Gillette Commercial

Michelle Nguyen, Community Manager

The amount of time it took for the newest Gillette commercial to go viral was as predictable as the reaction it received. While we all spent a minute and 48 seconds learning the many ways men can become the best they can be, Gillette quietly forgot the pink elephant in the room: Gillette.

Sure, they hinted that Gillette hasn’t always been the image of the message they’re delivering in the new spot. That type of self-awareness in large brands and their willingness to own up to previous actions is commendable but frankly also expected in today’s social landscape. It almost distracted me long enough so as to avoid looking any further than what they wanted me to see.

In their words, “It's only by challenging ourselves to do more, that we can get closer to our best.” The commercial emphasizes what we as citizens of planet Earth can do to make boys better. They conveniently left themselves out of the equation by not addressing an important group of boys - the boys in the boardroom.

Of the 13 members of the Board at Gillette’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, only four of them are women. I know what you’re thinking: 30 per cent female executives on a board? That’s not bad.  But if the Gillette commercial has taught us anything, it’s that we can always do more. Why not 50 per cent women? After all, women influence 83 per cent of the household buying choices.

Then there is the “pink tax”. Gillette’s Venus brand has been a notorious criminal in the pink tax debate; while two disposable Gillette razors will cost a man $13.99, the identical product under the Venus brand will cost a woman $17.99. While $4 doesn’t sound like ‘anything to write home about’, consider the effects of the pink tax over the course of everything a female consumer purchases in her lifetime. Women pay thousands and thousands of dollars in pink tax simply because of our gender.

New studies have shown that women make 49 cents to a man’s dollar. So women are earning less than men in the workplace and paying more for products. The financial gap is widening between the genders due in part to practices like those of Gillette and Venus, inflating prices because they know women will pay it.  In effect, Gillette and its sister, Venus, are inhibitors to a woman’s ability to progress.

In the commercial, a father props his young daughter up on the bathroom counter and tells her to repeat after him: “I am strong.” The sentimentalist in me loves this notion—she can become an astronaut, a scientist, an architect or any of the strong careers that women should feel empowered to enter! As long as she pays seven per cent more than her male colleagues on everyday items. The irony in this scene is all too real: if men truly want to be the best they can be, they need to support women in the pursuit of a level playing field.

Holding other men truly accountable is a big, daunting task that goes beyond marketing to the top of the corporate hierarchy. Enlist more women executives. Pave the way for their successes. Pay them the same as you’d pay a man. And for goodness sake, Gillette—stop charging women more money because the product is pink.


“Hey Virgil, Am I Fugly Enuf to Give You $1,200 For a Hoodie?”

Bob Makinson, Chief Creative Officer

Streetwear is the new luxury. The lines between streetwear and luxury have blurred. Any fashion enthusiast can tell you this has been building over the last decade and culminated in the summer of 2017 with the drop of the Louis Vuitton / Supreme collaboration. I do have to admit that I was both shocked and saddened by, what I felt was, the denigration of both brands. This convergence is proving unstoppable.

We all know that in a world dominated by social media there is a longing for acceptance and status, but the kids are starting to look a little clownish. My fear, however, is not that streetwear is killing high fashion. I am more unnerved by the escalation of ugly that is permeating both. All this to attract a younger customer who is more than willing to sacrifice quality production and materials for very limited time street cred.

“The price points are astronomical. But when you buy luxury streetwear, you’re not paying for the most handcrafted, highest quality piece of garment. You’re buying into a subculture. It’s something you either are a part of or want to be a part of, and when you think about it, that’s what any luxury brand has always been about,” Mick Batyske, a DJ, streetwear influencer and investor tells Hilary Milnes of Digiday UK. “Maybe the item itself is not justifiably worth it, but you’re attempting to buy membership into a club. That justifies the price.”

But honestly, $2,000 for a knock-off of an Ikea shopping bag? Thanks Balenciaga but I think I can pass on being a member of that club. I do blame Demna Gvasalia, current Balenciaga creative director and head designer of Vetements for the onslaught of mundane, unoriginal pieces that reference and co-opt other brands’ logos and designs. Are we not still laughing at the DHL stuff? He clearly is — all the way to the bank. This guy has major pedigree so I know I must be missing the “intellectual“ intentions around mimicking a courier’s canary yellow T-shirt. I’ll leave it to you, but as the bloggers ask, scam or subversion? I am all for hacking the fashion system, but…

Recently, at Paris Fashion Week, Louis Vuitton debuted Virgil Abloh’s first men’s collection. The designs are breaking sales records. A portion of the show featured looks inspired by the Wizard of Oz. Virgil let us know that the upcoming campaign that would feature the clothing (photographed on children) would ”embody the purity of infancy, still unaffected by preordained perceptions of gender, colour and creed.“

Wow, what a lovely sentiment.

I will leave you with this from Highsnobiety:

“Amidst all of the mayhem surrounding Virgil Abloh’s debut Louis Vuitton show today, you may have missed a key moment from the fashion house. LV has thus partnered with Warner Bros. to celebrate the upcoming 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz.

Two pieces were featured on the runway earlier today in Paris, noting shadows of The Wizard of Oz characters set against the famed yellow brick road. In addition, Victor Cruz was on-hand, donning one of the styles from the SS19 collection.

Get your first look at The Wizard of Oz x Louis Vuitton above, and be sure to hit us with your thoughts in the comment section.”


Storytelling across industries, what do you think about this week's picks? Send us an email at zeitlines@republicstory.com!