Board games have never been so popular – thanks to the global pandemic, sales soared https://inews.co.uk/news/consumer/boardgames-sales-high-lockdown-sparks-nostalgia-traditional-toys-652554. And one popular adult game, Cards Against Humanity, has just received an unofficial expansion pack that ought to appeal to morally conflicted ad folk.
Creative duo Ellie Daghlian and Elisa Czerwenka
have created Brands Against Humanity, a downloadable expansion pack that offers up real world examples of big brands like Amazon, Coca-cola, Monsanto, H&M and more behaving despicably. They're matched with sarcastic cards like 'That's innovation!' and 'We would care about BLANK but we've already shown solidarity once this year'.
According to the pair the idea was inspired several months ago when conversations at an ethical business they were working at brought up some unavoidable hard truths.
“We were working for an ethical company a few months ago. They pointed out that often, for brands to win, real people had to lose. That's the opposite to the effect we want to have, and we wanted to do something about it,” they say.
The pack highlights a whole host of dodgy practices, from child labour to oil spills, toxic waste dumps from companies like Dupont, racist Dove ads and more. It comes at a time when purpose-driven and social good advertising is still a popular tactic – sometimes these activities are promoted by well-meaning and sincere companies, other times it’s simply greenwashing.
It’s a tricky landscape for creatives to navigate. “On the one hand, surely it's about doing what you can, where you can. If you have the chance to support a minority who's under attack, isn't it better to do that than stay silent because other things in the company aren't right?
On the other hand, if you’re not giving money or making some real commitment to change you're literally profiting from other people's suffering,” say the pair. “You just have to make a judgement call for each situation, hope you get it right, and learn from it when you don’t.”
But when it comes to the really egregious examples, does the industry need to grow a backbone?
“You should be allowed to call out bad behaviour whatever you do. Particularly if it’s common knowledge, which most of the information in this game is. We just put it on some cards,” say Ellie and Elisa. “As for whether the industry needs a backbone, we’d love to see agencies coming together and refusing to work for companies that flout ethical standards. That’s a proper revolution.”
The game also comes with a bonus ‘Corporate Apology Bingo’ card that highlights the insincerity of brands who have been caught in the act. Reactions including ‘We missed the mark’ and ‘(insert black square here)’ will be familiar to many.
When asked which of the real world examples they’re most shocked by, the pair has this to say: “They’re all shocking, but the thing that stands out most is the amount of cards we have yet to make.”
Download the expansion pack here.