Shock advertising campaign by Nude Vodka; Creative boundary-pushing genius or insensitive marketing?
There is a relatively new Vodka brand- Nude- in town by Nepal distilleries, the same beverage manufacturer that produces the beloved Khukri rum. The brand name sounds more like a Western Woke social justice campaign rather than an alcohol brand. With hashtags like #Justbeyou, #Iamfree, #Iamnude, including the name of its brand, Nude has relied on Shock advertising to market itself. While this has indeed brought curious engagement, the response, at least on social media, seems to be questionable.
Before we get into the nitty gritties of Nude’s branding and advertising pros and cons, let us first understand what Shock advertising means. Shock advertising basically is an advertising and marketing strategy that uses taboo subjects and societal issues to attract widespread attention and trigger the consumers. Shock advertisers understand that their advertising is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.
The Idea Behind 'Nude' Campaign
Since Nude has garnered a lot of attention due to its ‘shock’ advertising and branding, the marketing team has reached out to us with their justification. According to them, this ‘shock’ campaign has been designed with the intention of highlighting the beauty of uniqueness, of being true to self. The campaign developers assert that their campaign intends to let people know that they do not need to put on masks and should be able to unconditionally accept oneself.
On paper, this message sounds very good, however, messages of such nature might get lost in translation too. As a brand, which is, at the end of the day, profit oriented, a business should be cognizant of the negative consequences regardless of its true intention. You must remember the case of Pepsi’s Kendal Jenner ad. It came at a time when America is deeply divided along racial justice issues. Pepsi tried the same shock advertising tactic but given the global backlash, Pepsi rolled back the infamous ad within a couple of days.
However, it seems Nude has doubled down continuing to challenge those who have criticized with a pinned post that says
If being bold is a problem for others. Then so be it! Say it out loud. I’m me. I’m bold. I'm NUDE.
While there is some backlash on social media, the brand seems to be well-aware of this. In fact, creating a strong reaction seems to be the modus operandi of the brand. While it might look like the brand is being culturally insensitive at face value, what we need to understand is the core message it is trying to push i.e. being true to self. Generally, businesses shy away from making any socio-political statements precisely because of the type of backlash it could face as the likes of NUDE. So, towards that irrespective of the outcome, we at BrandGuff assert that Nude’s marketing campaign is bold and innovative. Here, we have been decrying over the creative dearth that the Nepalese marketing industry is reeling from like a clockwork. Therefore, Nude’s campaign is a welcome change.
BrandGuff’s Two Cents Advice to Nude
The brand name is quite quirky and evokes a sense of shock by itself. With the type of provocative doubling down on their ‘so be it’ strategy, we are afraid that continuing to rely solely on shock advertising runs the risk of diminishing and even negative returns. While the brand insists that the core story that it wants to project is about positivity, we believe that there are less controversial and creative ways to push their brand position. We understand that culture and sensitivities are contextual and subjective. Like mentioned above, one could easily market an underwear product with an American Flag in the Western market, however, the same would not be tolerated here. To add to this, virtue signaling and woke washing has often had negative consequences even in the West, for example, the backlash over Pepsi’s ad. Therefore, we are a bitpuzzled by Nude’s inability to position itself and adapt, especially considering the fact that the brand is owned by ‘Nepal Distilleries’, the same company that has successfully marketed and branded its ‘Khukuri’ Rum even internationally.
Therefore, we believe that the brand should focus on ‘pushing boundaries’ within the cultural confines of the country it is selling at. As mentioned before, beverages are FMCG products meaning that it targets a vast number of potential consumers, therefore, over relying on forwarding a message that will be rejected by the general mass is counterthetical to the ABC of business. To add to this, the brand has also shown the bottle clearly in its advertising video clearly flouting the Alcohol Advertisement Act. We understand that a business, irrespective of the category it belongs to needs to market and brand its services and product. However, there are creative ways that a brand can market their products to legal aged adults through surrogate marketing, for example, Bagpiper, markets its brand through its soda products.