With so many advertising campaigns urging people to break out from the crowd and discover their individuality, it seems somewhat rarer these days for brands to emphasize their association with connecting people (except maybe around the holidays). But Brazilian snack company Biscoitos Zezé has adopted an unusual strategy of social advertising that isn't digital—instead, it uses sharing physical objects as its medium.
Developed by Ramon Ballverdú of the advertising agency Markmais, the latest installation of the campaign, Toalha Social, involved offering up racks of special towels to picnickers on a sunny day. The towels used Biscoitos Zezé's distinctive red-and-gold color scheme and were printed with an invitation to sit, with the intention of getting people to sit together who normally would not.
"The reception of the public with the "Social Towel" was really cool. People thanked [us] because we were providing a place to sit, and commented that a long time [they] had no close contact with the grass and the environment," said Ballverdú. "There were also people who have used the towel to create new friendships, it was surprising for us because we thought that many would be embarrassed. It was really amazing to see people who did not know each sharing a towel on the grass."
One of the Social Towel's first locations was av. Dom Joaquim. in the city of Pelotas, and Markmais used social media to announce to the public where they were going to alight next. Fans have encouraged them to think bigger with the project and bring it to Brazil's largest cities. "After the first few weeks, many people asked through Facebook to bring the structures to other cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo," said Ballverdú.
He went on to say that the project is as much about city-dwellers rethinking the way they see themselves as it is about rethinking and sharing urban space. "We think that the Internet has stolen a lot of space in people's lives, so we always try to think of ways to make people see themselves through the city, in the bus, or sitting in a square, or crossing the traffic light," he said.
Apparently, self-consciousness and social awkwardness don't always have to go hand-in-hand.