Playing with Context

Brands that consider the context of their message, as well as their content, can cut through the noise, create surprise and overcome traditional barriers. The following six pieces of work show how content plus context creates breakthrough work. 

The Street Store, The Haven Night Shelter, M&C Saatchi Cape Town, 2014


This interesting twist on the charitable act of donating clothing for the homeless was aimed at driving awareness for The Haven Night Shelter. The objective was to break through deep-set social stereotypes by going some way to bridge the gap created by privilege. A physical pop-up store in the street enabled homeless people to choose their own clothes.

Having the street as the location for the store enabled those benefiting from it to feel that it was there on their terms. A call out on social media via Twitter and Facebook provided wide media reach, resulting in features on local and international blogs, news, TV and radio. And, most importantly, thousands of donations. This piece of work helped clothe 35,000 homeless people, generating PR in excess of R27 Million (1.4million USD) off a R5000 budget (270 USD).

Bimbo Group Eco-Sponge FCB Buenos Aires, 2015


With the launch of its new product, Fargo needed a clever strategy to make sliced bread a favoured choice in the bread baskets of restaurants across town, and their diners. Understanding growing environmental fears around water consumption, they latched onto the insight that the cleaner the plate, the less water is used when washing up.

By reframing bread as an eco-friendly product used as a sponge for mopping up final remnants of meals, they gave consumers a new and unique reason to use and remember their brand. They surpassed their target of entering 100 restaurants and introduced the product into 200 restaurants in the second month. The new product and message reached 2.4 million people.

The World’s First All-LEGO Ad Break, Warner Bros, PHD London, 2014


Knowing the editorial rigour and regulations that come with branded content on TV, Warner Bros focused on re-interpreting the ad-break to create the promotional content they needed ahead of the launch of the LEGO Movie.

LEGO worked with other brands to ‘LEGO-fy’ their TV commercials which gave each brand association with the hottest movie launch of the year and LEGO the much-needed adult reach they desired. What’s more, as all the brands paid for their own ads, it was cost-effective, too. This highly memorable piece of content did the job of a turbo-charged trailer by whetting the audience’s appetite for the film’s release.

The Tampon Book: a book against Tax Discrimination, The Female Company, Scholz and Friends Berlin, 2019


As a smaller, challenger business, The Female Company sought to fight the sexist taxation of female sanitary products and prove its commitment to period de-stigmatisation. Their strategy: outsmart the law by selling tampons concealed in a book (an item with a significantly lower tax rate).

This clever use of a different medium highlighted the issue whilst signposting consumers to an online petition calling for the end of high tax rates on sanitary products. Making good use of a small budget the Female Company sent 100 copies of the Tampon Book to female influencers and politicians, many of whom shared the story on social media for free. In a testament to the power of thinking context-first and making a statement in a persuasive and original way, the petition was successful.

Mont Blanc Fountain Pens, Pen and Art, The Jupiter Drawing Room, Cape Town, 2007

This luxury pen brand made the most of its media buy with a national newspaper by running the paper’s editorials as text elegantly handwritten with the stylish pen. Showing not telling can be a persuasive way to engage audiences and here, the context of a newspaper itself helped to imbue the pen with gravitas and credibility. This was the first time a newspaper had allowed an advertiser to set their articles, and this fact alone generated a lot of publicity for Mont Blanc.

Make the Politicians Work, URA.RU City Website, Voskhod Ekaterinburg, 2013

URA.RU, a website about life in the city of Yekaterinburg wanted to remind politicians about their duty to repair the pot-holed roads. Playing on the known fact that the politicians only care about their public image, they transformed the potholes overnight into painted caricatures of their faces with the help of graffiti artists. The news of the artwork became a sensation, hammering home that accountability for poor roads sat with the politicians. As the first source of the news was advertised on the site benefitted from an influx of visitors, with website traffic doubling. The news about the action they took was also released in more than 300 media, and mentioned across social networks more than 7,000 times. This unorthodox action that used the problem itself as the main comms channel spoke louder than any editorial: the roads were immediately fixed.