At Warc, we tend to showcase the best-in class rather than examples that didn’t quite meet the mark. However, in the news recently was the story of Nivea and the advert that Sir John Hegarty, Cannes Lions judge and BBH founder, described as “the most stupid thing he’s ever seen”.

To quote the Nivea “Care from the Air” voiceover, the problem to solve was that “Everybody understands the importance of sun protection…except the ones who need it most - our kids”. The solution they arrived at was less obvious- a seagull that targets, hunts down and poops on UV exposed children.

The execution, built on a somewhat elaborate premise, shows a team of engineers building a bird-themed-drone to help protect kids from harmful sun rays. The outcome had more of a parody feel on which Hegarty quipped, “I actually thought the Monty Python team had gotten together and entered it into [Cannes], to see if we would vote for it."

Several recent campaigns from Nivea have become heavily focused on deploying technology, but often with far greater success. The 'Take Care Out There' video which demonstrated the effects of sun exposure to beachgoers was extended to more than 20 countries. In Brazil there was the removable bracelet to helped mothers track down their child on the beach. To quote Ralph Gusko, executive board member of Nivea brand owner, Beiersdorf,  "both these cases show how we're using technology to bring messages and solutions to our consumers”. Arguably, with this latest campaign they succeeded in landing the message without the clear practical solution (drone seagulls being not that practical or widely owned after all).

There are a few obvious take-outs here: too much emphasis on technology and not enough on real people; and how getting caught up in the ‘new’ can mean that marketers lose sight of the brand as the real solution. This ad may not have been the ‘cream of the crop’ but sure enough, most marketers can recall the time they created some poop (even if it was less literal and more metaphorical).

You can read more about some of the ads that fared better in terms of creative effectiveness here: on