Quick question: What does whisky have to do with the refugee crisis? Well, nothing really, seeing as one is typically sold as an accessory for luxury and a life more refined, while the other is the result of tragic circumstances at the other end of the spectrum of human experience. But somehow Johnnie Walker was able to tie the two together using a light touch with the theme of optimism to tell an inspiring story of compassion. It still doesn't have really anything to do with whisky, but telling a compelling story like this is an interesting way to boost the brand image beyond vapid consumption.
JOHNNIE WALKER "ODE TO LESVOS"
What: A short doc film directed by Talal Derki (who directed the Sundance-winning Return to Homs) that profiles and celebrates the people of the Greek island of Lesvos, who helped thousands of refugees from Turkey
Who: Johnnie Walker, Anomaly
Why We Care: This hits a couple of brand content birds with one stone—first, it's engaging, interesting content that people will watch despite it being created by a brand. And second, it's a great example of a brand taking a risk, tackling an uncomfortable subject in a compelling way, and as a result lifts it above the din of the crashing waves of other content begging for our attention.
SQUARESPACE "PLAYING LYNCH"
What: A promo ad for an online experience hosted by Squarespace to promote the new David Lynch tribute album, The Music of David Lynch
Who: Squarespace, Preacher
Why We Care: Many of David Lynch's best-known characters are as creepy as they are memorable, but having John Malkovich play them all in one place adds a whole other level of delightful weird. Here Malkovich is Lynch himself, Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks, the Log Lady, Blue Velvet's Frank Booth, the Lady in the Radiator and Henry Spencer from Eraserhead, Mystery Man from Lost Highway, and the Elephant Man Joseph Merrick.
IKEA "MY SON"
What: A little boy takes his mom furniture shopping, with a twist.
Who: Ikea, Buzzman Paris
Why We Care: Sometimes it's enough to have a sweet ad that makes people get all mushy in the emotions. Not only will this give many parents the goosebumps, but it's actually tied to a truth about the brand being the place many of us got our first furniture from. So maybe you'll be thinking back to that Ektorp couch while wondering just how your wee little baby grew up so fast.
JOHNSONVILLE "SAUSAGE SUPPORT CENTER"
What: A real-life, pop-up call center staffed by actual Johnsonville employees for three days—September 28, 29, and 30, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m—to talk sausage
Who: Johnsonville, Droga5
Why We Care: Not long ago, Johnsonville launched a new campaign introducing the world to its charming employees to illustrate the family atmosphere and aw-shucks vibe of the brand. So what better way to follow up an introduction than to give us all the opportunity to talk to these quirky sausage folk ourselves? It may not be a perfect cure to that deep, unhinged loneliness lurking in your soul, but it can serve you up some dinner ideas.
NBCUNIVERSAL/LEGO "LEGO JURASSIC WORLD TRAILER"
What: The trailer to Lego Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape, a 24-minute animated short that will be unveiled in five parts starting October 3
Who: The Lego Group, NBCUniversal
Why We Care: Okay, is this just a blatant excuse to watch this again? Maybe. But is it also a sly marketing tactic, using an animated short attached to theJurassic World DVD release to give the licensed Lego line for the film a post-summer punch in the arm? For sure. And if it gives us yet another funny cartoon to watch while we wait for The Lego Batman Movie, that's a win-win for everyone involved.