Friday, 2:15pm
8 March 2013

Good works … creak

Goodvertising: Creative advertising that cares

By Thomas Kolster<br> Designed by Patrick Morrissey<br> Thames & Hudson, £29.95

‘Goodvertising’ is one of those hard to love, cut’n’shut words that the advertising industry seems to specialise in constructing. The kind of word that you’d have to steel yourself to employ without the protection of a sturdy pair of inverted commas, writes Andrew Missingham.

Putting nerves to one side, does the concept itself make any sense? Written for an age in which consumers are ‘better informed, more sceptical and ethically minded’, in the words of the book’s author, Danish media and advertising strategist Thomas Kolster, ‘goodvertising’ is where ‘genuine caring brands take one step further and make a real, tangible difference.’

‘Pepsi Refresh Project’, Pepsi, TBWA/Chiat/Day (Los Angeles), 2010.
Top: cover design by Kronk.


Kolster, as many other commentators before, makes the case that the brands that will thrive in the 21st century are the ones best able to mainstream sustainability, conversation and genuine mutuality, not just into their communications, but into their modes of business. Citing brands such as PepsiCo, McDonalds and Puma, Goodvertising promises to show how far mainstream brands have come along this road – where they’ll not only save the advertising industry, but save the world, too.

Spread featuring Clemenger BBDO’s ‘Sleep Before You Drive’ campaign for the New Zealand Transport agency.


The book showcases campaigns by some of the world’s most prominent ad agencies in ten chapters outlining the rules of goodvertising. Some of the campaigns are excellent and show off the ad industry at its best – witty, challenging and genuinely full of insight. Clemenger BBDO’s ‘Sleep Before You Drive’ campaign for the New Zealand Transport agency is beautifully conceived and powerfully art directed. Road accidents are reimagined with beds instead of cars, showing the danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

Spread featuring ‘Chalkbot’, Nike, Wieden + Kennedy (Portland)and ‘The Difference’, St John Ambulance, BBH London.


Alongside the St John Ambulance ‘The Difference’ print campaign, BBH London staged an event in a central London cinema.

BBH London’s ‘The Difference’ campaign for St John Ambulance combines photographer Nadav Kander’s trademark monochrome portraits with perfectly pitched typography on everyday paper stock to encourage people to realise that first aid knowledge could be the difference between life and death. There are lots more like this from the likes of Unicef, Greenpeace and Amnesty. So many, in fact, that the central premise of the book ends up being undermined.

Spread featuring ‘Let’s Colour’, Dulux, Euro RSCG (London) and ‘Eco Diary’, Cell C, Net#work BBDO (Johannesburg).


A great proportion of the Goodvertising’s examples are agencies’ campaigns for charities, NGOs and for government information initiatives: brands whose very purpose is to do good. Although there are some commercial cases included, as a piece, the book doesn’t quite chart the journey from corporate mammon the author had signed us up for.

So either ‘goodvertising’ corporate brand campaigns or strategies are thin on the ground, or the best examples of the ‘goodvertising’ principle exist where the client is already doing good. Or maybe the corporates’ most radical good work doesn’t actually render well as advertising at all.

Whatever the case, on the evidence of what’s in the book, it is hard not to be left feeling that Kolster might have oversold his core ‘goodvertising’ idea a little, driving it so hard and so fast that it ends up a little creaky.

‘You have more blood than you need’, Santa Casa de Misericordia de São Paulo, Y&R (São Paulo).


Andrew Missingham, creative consultant, London.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and back issues.