Brands go Slow

These days, everyone is jumping on the Slow bandwagon – even some who don’t really belong there.

Many brands are now using the language of Slow to sell us stuff. Audi launched a sedan in Britain a few years ago under the slogan: The slowest car we’ve ever built. And they didn’t mean their new sedan would struggle to overtake a Lada on the highway. They mean we built this car with care and attention – when they say the “slowest” car we’ve ever built, they really mean the “best” car we’ve ever built.

The Orange telephone network ran a campaign saying “Good things happen when your phone is switched off.” Not an act of commercial suicide: they know we will always use our phones. But Orange wanted to link itself to the growing desire people have to unplug from technology so the can slow down, enjoy the moment and connect with other people in a way that is deeper and more meaningful than a text message.

The Kit Kat campaign to set up No Wi-Fi zones (see picture above) taps into the same vibe.

In a similar vein, Haagen Dazs recently launched a new line of ice creams in Spain. You have to take the ice cream out of the freezer and wait 12 minutes for the centre to soften and for the flavours to develop. And the advertising campaign made a virtue of slowing down and waiting for that perfect moment of pleasure.

In 2011 the Paris Fair (La Foire de Paris) chose “Slow Time” as its theme.

What does all this mean for the Slow revolution? It cuts both ways.

The danger is that companies and brands use “Slow” to sell products and services that have nothing to do with the Slow philosophy. This is inevitable. And some are already stretching the link with Slow to breaking point. One example: last year, the world’s first Slow Mall opened in downtown Santiago, Chile.

But I think people are intelligent enough to see through the dishonest use of the Slow creed. And on the positive side: the fact that so many brands are using Slow to market themselves, even if they are not Slow, shows just how far this cultural revolution has spread.

It also adds to the chorus in favour of deceleration. Advertising is the wallpaper of our lives, and it usually bombards us with the message that there is never enough time and we have to buy more and more things to help us to do everything faster and faster.

My hope is that introducing even just a few ads that sing the virtues of slowing down makes it easier for us to contemplate putting on the breaks.

What do you think?





Audi’s Slowest Car Ad

Many brands are aligning themselves with Slow. Sometimes the product itself  fits snugly with the Slow ethos; sometimes less so. Either way, it’s another sign that  the idea the slower can be better is gaining currency.

This is an ad from Audi. In 2007, the German automaker launched its new sedan with the slogan “The Slowest Car We’ve Ever Built.”

They didn’t mean their latest model would struggle to overtake a vintage Lada. When they said this is the “slowest” car we’ve ever built, what they meant was this is the “best” car we’ve ever built.

Faster is better commercial

Early indoctrination into the cult of speed. Though I have to admit that I prefer my iPhone on the fast side…

Orange Turn Off Phones Ad

Many brands are tapping into the growing yearning to unplug, slow down and live more fully. Sometimes the product itself  fits snugly with this Slow ethos; sometimes less so. Either way, it’s another sign that  the idea the slower can be better is gaining currency.

This is an ad from the Orange mobile phone company. It sings the praises of unplugging from technology. The tagline is: “Good things happen when your phone is switched off.”

This sounds like commercial suicide for a phone company, but it’s not. Orange knows that we’ll carry on using our phones. But they also know that more and more people are waking up to the fact that being “always on” erodes our quality of life  – and they want to be part of that conversation.

The Best Anti-Speeding Campaign Ever?

If Carlsberg did anti-speeding campaigns, they’d probably be a bit like this one from Western Australia.

Forget the tired old shock tactics of yesteryear. Instead of trying to browbeat or terrify people into driving more slowly by bombarding them with gory images of mangled corpses, bashed up cars and severed limbs, the Enjoy the Ride campaign puts the stress on all the benefits that flow from following the speed limit.

Fewer accidents, to be sure, but also: Less money spent on fuel. Fewer toxic emissions into the environment. A calmness that allows you to take in the scenery, listen to music or talk radio, chat to your passengers or just let your mind wander (not too much, obviously.) Your car becomes a Zen refuge rather than a torpedo of road rage.

In other words, Enjoy the Ride embeds the old discussion about speeding in a broader conversation about why slowing down can pay handsome benefits in every walk of life.

Very Slow.

The campaign officially launches today. It is genius. (And I’m not just saying that because I went to Perth to front the campaign.)

Check it out HERE

These shoes were made for walking…

Advertising is a useful bell-wether for changing attitudes so maybe that’s why more and more companies are using the idea of slow to hawk their products. Examples abound. In Japan, for instance, Volkswagen launched the new Beetle with the slogan “Go Slow.” This morning I opened up a magazine and found an advertisement from Camper, a shoemaker that believes that slowing down is the first step to living, working and playing better. The company motto is “Walk, Don’t Run.” And the current ad promises “Slow shoes for fast people.” Wonder if they’re having a January sale….

Baltic slow

Just arrived in Vilnius on the first stop of a talking tour of the three Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. This part of the world is racing along to catch up with the rest of the West. Everyone is in a hurry and schedules are packed to bursting point. One of the first ads I saw screamed: “I love life in the fast lane.” Yet already the idea of putting on the brakes is catching on with the locals – even the most impatient ones. I have been invited here to talk about the Slow philosophy by an organization called….