Lean into risk

Staying safe doesn’t get brands noticed. So riskier work tends to trigger more emotional responses. This, in turn, can lead to greater PR and social engagement.

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This Coke is a Fanta

“This Coke is a Fanta” is a homophobic slur in Brazil, so two Coca-Cola products were being used as hate speech. It’s a unique situation, but Coke didn’t have to respond. Instead, the brand took a risk and placed itself staunchly on the side of the LGBTQ+ community, transforming the phrase into a pride-worthy statement. It shows how to address controversy head on to achieve maximum impact.
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The Least Active Kids in History

OMO introducing ‘dirt is good’ was high risk in the MENA region because spotless kids are seen as the hallmark of good parenting; OMO worked with developmental experts on how best to respond to inevitable negative sentiment. The livestream shows rather than tells parents how inactive their kids are, while supporting activations, such as giving away outdoor play equipment, position OMO as part of the solution.
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Manboobs

MACMA used a controversial social media rule to its advantage and, instead of breaking it, found a way around it. Beating censorship with manboobs is a high risk approach that wouldn’t be appropriate in every situation, but other brands can learn from it: if you can find an innovative solution to a problem that seems impossible to get around, that will do the attention-grabbing work on your behalf.
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Black Supermarket

It’s not often that breaking the law is tantamount to a good business decision, but Carrefour made it work. By identifying how an outdated law impacted its suppliers, the French supermarket chain unleashed a dramatic tale of protest. By taking such a huge risk, Carrefour not only succeeded in changing the law, it also earned first-mover status so customers associated its products with biodiversity and greater choice in-store.
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Bloodnormal

Essity upset TV executives and alienated some consumers, but it was worth it. By challenging the status quo around showing menstrual blood, Essity generated an emotional response, earning the respect of audiences around the world. Plus, it changed the sector forever, making femcare brands think twice before defaulting to blue ink.
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Unhate

This is an early example of a brand trying to make a political impact, and it worked because it was a message everyone could get behind. Using high-powered people’s photographs without permission was undoubtedly risky, but the worthwhile cause meant that Benetton got away with it.
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Coffee is not a drug

Using the dark web for a campaign would usually be seen as a gimmick, but Chernyi Cooperative pulled it off because it connects its product to the underground world with the simple insight that coffee is a drug. This connection allowed the brand to use this unusual media form to its advantage while the secretive and hard-to-access nature of the dark web added scarcity value to the coffee.
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