Brand marketing has come a long way, and perhaps nothing shows that quite like Vanish's latest ad, Me, My Autism and I ad. Created by Havas London and SMUGGLER London together with Ambitious about Autism, the Tom Hooper-directed film is like nothing we would have imagined from a stain removal brand a few years ago
The powerful documentary-style film has scooped a Diversity in Advertising Award for its faithful portrayal of autism. And it's set a standard to follow (see our pick of the best branding books for more inspiration).
Vanish's ad uses a docudrama style to depict everyday events in the lives of a real family, including 15-year-old Ash, who has autism. The aim was to improve the public understanding of the disability, particularly in girls, who are much less likely to receive a diagnosis. Winning Channel 4's Diversity in Advertising award means that ad is getting £1 million worth of airtime on the British channel.
What does it have to do with Vanish? Three-quarters of autistic people say keeping the look, smell and feel of clothes the same is important to them. Vanish's take is that this makes all the more important to make clothes last. It's also supporting a wider project with Ambitious about Autism that includes an exhibition and videos in which autistic people share their experiences.
Brand activism has become something of a buzz trend in marketing in recent years, but it can be hard to get right. The idea is that brands can be a force for good by using their platform to raise awareness of issues and provide a voice for relevant causes that they believe in.
We've seen Dove get it right many times, most recently in its battle against the TikTok Bold Glamor Filter, but we've also seen brands get it wrong (remember Brew Dog's Pink IPA?) Vanish's campaign perhaps sets a standard for sticking faithfully to reality with a strong piece of film that stands up on its own.