First to jump on the spooky bandwagon, Paramount launched a terrifying guerrilla marketing campaign for their newest horror flick, Smile. The film sees the protagonist stalked by an entity pretending to be other people smiling at her throughout the film (but menacingly, not in a positive feedback kind of way). To give viewers the full immersive experience, actors were hired to stand in the background of sports games and smile maniacally at the camera, freaking the living daylights out of both horror fans and sports audiences alike.

Coming to you with a dose of real retro 80s-style Satanic Panic: Reebok’s new shoes are accused of being the work of Satan and a possible harbinger to the end of the world. According to the kind of people who don’t get invited to family gatherings anymore, these shoes are designed to mimic the hoofed feet of a demon and will bring about the apocalypse, rather than the more likely design inspo of traditional Japanese Tabi.

Freelance marketplace Upwork has turned to Halloween for inspiration in their new ads. To show the old way of working is dead, their new tv spots have featured a singing zombie, because this is a thriller, thriller night, and no one’s gonna save you from the beast that’s about to strike.

Speaking of seeing dead people, Bruce Willis has become the first actor to sell his likeness rights to deepfake technology, allowing a deep fake of himself to be superimposed over another individual. The ethics of this technology has been a topic of discussion in Hollywood recently (aka uncanny-valley Peter Cushing in the new Star Wars) but for an actor who has recently announced illness is forcing him to retire, this technology could be, as Willis puts it, “a great opportunity to go back in time.” (Or, to keep earning an income long after your physical body has passed Hollywood’s unforgiving use-by dates).

In 1981, speculative zoologist Dougal Dixon released After Man, a futuristic encyclopaedia showing horrifying illustrations of what creatures may exist 50 million years after human extinction. To mark forty years and no change in humanity’s compulsive desire to destroy itself, Breakdown Press has released an expanded anniversary edition, showcasing our future inhabitants in all their creepy, terrifying glory. I, for one, welcome our new overlords, Vampire Bat-Chicken and Squirrel-Snake (Squake).

There’s an unofficial rule in horror cinema that you can kill as many people as you want, but you can’t kill the dog. We all know products featuring a cute bunny logo equals cruelty-free, but it turns out if a company can’t make it through the vetting process, they’ll often put a “fake” cute bunny on their products anyway, to imply a level of animal kindness they may in fact be utterly lacking. Turns out, technically there’s nothing actually stopping anyone from putting cute bunny symbols on their products, PETA approved or not. Check out how to spot the bad bunnies here.

Lets play another game of spot the difference: After-Dark Edition! Because social media sites can have strict policies about advertising sex products, Blush, an adult entertainment store in Iceland, hid their toys throughout the interior photos of a real estate listing. Creating a series of photos that appear to be kitchen appliances or décor and upon closer inspection are… not those things.

Like putting on a sitcom after a horror movie, here’s a break from all the spooky news. When Sweden reopened after lockdown, the waitlist to get married at city hall became fully booked for months, so McDonalds offered a solution: drive-thru weddings. Over sixty couples were married in one day, driving up to an officiant and leaving with a special happy meal. Apparently they can give you a legally binding document, but not an Egg McMuffin after 10am.

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Setting the design world alight with the fear of God this month is Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program that creates fun new art from textual descriptions. AI has been used to make concert posters, magazine covers and even visions of the future. While there’s a genuine worry this program is coming for our jobs, the sunny side is it’s a tool like any other, and learning how to talk to it is a skill in itself. It’s also going to change depending on the user; in our case, when in the hands of someone with a penchant for retro science fiction, the result is our INCYMI header: a vintage comic-style group portrait of the office.

Pacsun has entered the uncanny valley with the new face of their brand, a virtual model. Not content with real women and their tendency to have thoughts and minor physical flaws, Miquela, a ‘virtual influencer’, is tiny, without imperfections and eternally nineteen. The decision to hire the robot was apparently because she aligns with their “core brand values and vision,” which is understandable, when a computer’s writing your thoughts.

The same cannot be said of another AI, as Meta’s new chatbot BlenderBot 3 took only one week to become racist. The chatbot is designed to evolve its language, based on the conversations it has with users, and was only up and running for a few days before it started repeating right-wing propaganda. This is not the future Star Trek promised us.

Coca-Cola has released a new flavour that’s supposed to taste like our dreams. Coke’s Dreamworld has the “technicolour tastes and surrealism of the subconscious”. There’s no information yet as to how Coca-Cola plans to harvest the taste of our collective dreams, but we assume it’s something along the lines of pretending to eat and drink during a toddler’s imaginary tea party.

For a flavour palette a bit closer to home, Street’s Ice Cream is teaming up with Dusk to make a line of candles inspired by some childhood favourites. The new candles come in Bubble O ‘Bill, Golden Gaytime, Paddle Pop and Splice. This is Calippo erasure and we won’t stand for it.

Beyonce’s most recent album was released with a collection of futuristic, disco-inspired album art; featuring a groovy monochrome bodysuit by Brisbane designer Bethany Cordwell. The materials come from an unusual source, however, as the designer has revealed the bodysuit’s black and white scales are made from cut-up Officeworks document folders. So head to your local stationary store to steal Queen Bey’s new look: confidence and groovy disco-ball horse not included.

To advertise their new series based on A League of Their Own, Amazon has spelled out an empowering letter to female athletes using 30,000 baseballs. A nice opportunity to hit a home run for equality, and other knock-it-out-of-the-park-style metaphors.

BBDO Canada and the Indigenous arts and culture magazine Muskrat, are raising awareness of calls for justice for missing Indigenous women by going after the biggest whitewash of Native American history; Disney’s Pocahontas. The actual story is far more horrific than the Disney version, and what happened to Pocahontas—whose real name was Matoaka – still happens to Indigenous women and children today, with homicide the third-leading cause of death. The Missing Matoaka project provides an alternative commentary track for the film, to clear up the facts and point out where Disney veers into fantasy. Stick it to the mouse.

Regarding lying to viewers, Russia’s latest tourism ad is optimistic, to put it nicely… or, some might say, straight up propaganda. The controversial new ad lists the country’s positives as “cheap gas, beautiful women, no cancel culture, traditional values and vodka!” While tourism ads tend to paint a rosy picture of their destinations, it’s hard to ignore the very real presence of a fascist dictator and an ongoing war. It’s also worth noting those same ‘traditional values’ being exalted in the video led to Russia decriminalising ‘domestic violence that does not cause serious injury’ in 2017.

New proof being single isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you has just dropped, as conservative anti-“woke” dating app, The Right Stuff, has announced it will go live in September. The invite-only right-wing app is exclusively for straight people. The only gender options are “lady” and “gentleman” and there are “no pronouns necessary” (he and she are also pronouns, but this is an issue for the education system). A further concerning aspect of the business model is that only men are required to pay for subscriptions. Well, as the saying goes; “If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold.”

A North Queensland newspaper has gone viral after a disgruntled woman took out a full page ad, publicly calling out her cheating husband. This serves as proof print media really is irreplaceable, as no Instagram callout post will ever beat this level of drama, or unpaid media coverage.

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Continuing the great tradition of pride campaigns you just know were cooked up by very sheltered straight people, Burger King’s contribution to pride month was a pride whopper, a burger with either two top sesame-seed buns or two bottom buns. While this is probably just supposed to symbolise two men or two women, it was interpreted VERY differently by the queer community. Despite its supposed best intentions, the Rainbow Washing of this campaign is likely to leave you feeling faintly queasy and a little ashamed – no surprises there.

You know what actually works when it comes to direct action? Irritating the hell out of people. Non-profit NYC Pride and Havas New York launched a campaign to spam conservative politician’s fax machines with excerpts from queer literature. No, we didn’t just slip on a time-warp banana peel: while state legislators can ignore emails, calls and text, they legally must keep their fax machines switched on in their offices at all times; even in 2022.

Independent creative agency GreenRubino went for the jugular with its guerrilla advertising campaign in support of ending the outdated regulation which prevents many LGBTQ+ people from donating blood. Although scientifically disproven, long lasting stigma by the FDA prevents gay and bisexual men and their partners from donating blood, even in times of crisis. This initiative features a number of tongue-in-cheek images denouncing the arbitrary nature of the ban.

Ikea’s catalogues have recently expanded to include baby names. Presumably because assembling one of their cupboards correctly is about as difficult as rearing a child. Lockdown has seen an increase in pregnancies in Scandinavia, so in a new campaign, the Swedish DIY chain has trawled through Ikea catalogues dating back to the 50s to come up with a selection of possible names for your prospective offspring, as well as offering their own unique explanation of each. Some people are named after flowers, others are named after chairs.

Europe is knocking us out of the park in the gender equality field, as Spain could be the first country to introduce menstrual leave for employees. The legislation says people with severe period pain could receive three days of leave per month, or up to five days in some circumstances. This seems like a perfectly reasonable request, since doctors have recently confirmed some menstrual cramps can actually be as painful as heart attacks.

Australian advertising equality movement shEqual has released a statistics report about sexism in the advertising industry, and the results are grim, but not hopeless. Dianne Hill, CEO of Women’s Health Victoria says “Our data shows a disconnect between the intentions and actions of the industry in depicting women. It’s encouraging that the motivation is there, but the missing piece is an open dialogue on what representation looks like in 2022.” In short, get your shit together Advertising.

Facebook has been collecting the personal information of users who sought out information regarding pregnancy termination, a recent investigation has shown. These actions, which even violate their own privacy policies, could be the difference between life and death for those seeking abortion in the real life Handmaid’s Tale of America, with the Supreme Court’s recent decision that women don’t get rights anymore. Unfortunately, states that have criminalised abortion could use this information to incarcerate innocent people.
Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, sisters.

Speaking of archaic institutions, Internet Explorer has officially kicked the bucket, roughly a decade after everyone stopped using it. Safe journey to the big loading screen in the sky, old buddy.

Vegemite, the salty spread only a mother-country could love, is turning 100 next year! For this special occasion, Bega has teamed up with Thinkerbell to request a letter from the Queen, as is the tradition once you reach a centenary. The brand deployed a fleet of mobile digital billboards to drive around London, conveying the request to Buckingham Palace.

Milkrun is offering the chance to win a lifetime supply of avocado in their latest campaign. Taking a leaf from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (hopefully with less child maiming), they are offering a ‘Golden Avo’ to anyone who gets an avocado from their app. The campaign is due to run until mid-July, meaning soon one lucky millennial might actually be able to afford a house.

In their latest campaign, Jeep is answering The Call of Adventure by creating a language no other brand could speak: Morse Code. Since Morse Code is made up of a series of dots and dashes, Publicis Middle East has created a new language of adventure based on the same dots and dashes in the Jeep’s grille: O|||||||O.

Remember when you were a kid and having an eraser or bracelet that smelled like fruit made you the coolest kid in the playground? Well Nails Inc. is here to provide the same experience for adults by releasing a line of nail polishes that smell like… *checks notes* …cheese. Partnering with Velveeta, these nail polishes are for (what we hope is) the very niche market of people who want their hands to smell like both acetone and cheese at all times. Mmm, tasty.

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News: How Tasty Is Your Website?

Are your prospective clients being put off before they even reach out to you?

A business’s online presence can have a massive impact on their success. Yet even today, some businesses underestimate how many of their potential customers will visit their website before making a purchase, or even an enquiry.

A website is often the first place customers go to when researching a product or service, meaning your site is the first impression your customer will have of your brand. It provides more than information – it also establishes credibility. Unfortunately, having an outdated or confusing site may cause people to question your business’ credentials or professionalism.

There are many ways a website can actually work against you instead of for you. If your site is cluttered, has confusing navigation, lacks visual appeal or has a non-responsive design (i.e. it doesn’t resize properly for mobiles and tablets), it might be time to consider an overhaul.

Every brand is unique, and in addition to providing vital info on your business, it’s important your website communicates your brand’s values, vision and personality. This comes through in many ways; from the layout to the images and choice of wording.

If you’re a super cool brand wanting to reach younger customers, you could put them off with very serious or formal copywriting – and vice-versa, if your business requires gravitas such as a legal or accounting firm, you could easily put people off if your copy is too flippant.

This is where an experienced branding agency like the Incubator comes in handy. Here at the Incubator, we eat websites for breakfast. We can help your business express itself professionally, by creating a website for you that articulates clear messages, with easy navigation, all presented in a layout that’s tailored to appeal to your target market.

We’ve helped numerous companies create and upgrade their digital presence, so they can put their best foot forward in cyberspace. Give us a call to have a chat about how we can do this for you!

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Who said print is obsolete? Type company, Playtype, has brought back a bespoke typeface from an out-of-print publication. Degan, a danish newspaper, was created over twenty years ago, to the be peak of publishing: aesthetically, politically and journalistically. It folded after 41 days. A font was created specifically for the newspaper, and with its demise, became something of an urban legend among typographers. For the launch of Publish Gothic, Playtype partnered with Weekly World News, to create a series of posters presenting some favourite headlines from the iconic publication.


On the topic of bringing back a classic, Qantas’ new ad was released this month… raise your hands if hearing ‘I still call Australia home’ again made you weirdly emotional. Filmed pre-covid, it was unable to be released until this month due to the whole ‘no one was allowed to go anywhere’ thing. Now they’re back in and on the air, it’s become less an ad for flights and more a symbol of life returning to normal.

Skittles has rereleased their lime flavoured skittle, with a new campaign showcasing all the complaints they received over the years, after changing the flavour of their green skittle from lime to apple. Ooh self-burn, those are rare.

Designer Vanessa La Delfa and copywriter Leah Morris recently released a digital anthology, Creative Sheroes, highlighting advertising women whose work focuses on social change. The anthology and exhibition profiled 26 women in ad-land, driving change in their work. Support your sisters and check it out.

In your mind, imagine a CEO. Now, did you picture a man or a woman? CPB London is tackling the gender bias in our thinking with their new ‘Imagine’ campaign. The striking poster campaign prompts us to imagine a certain role and then asks what gender you pictured. This campaign was prompted after a nationwide study found 39 per cent of primary school children still think women should look after babies and do all the housework, while men go to work.

Ogilvy has declared they will no longer work with influencers who retouch their faces or bodies for brand campaigns, to combat social media’s damage to body image. “We have a duty of care as marketers, as agencies and brands to the next generation of people so they don’t grow up with the same stuff we are seeing now,” says Ogilvy’s head of influence Rahul Titus. Right on.

Speaking of bodies, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania has released a line of chocolates shaped like vulvas, because of course they have. Made by hand, presumably while The Divinyls was playing, by local Tasmanian chocolatiers, this serves as an expansion of their long standing exhibition by artist Greg Taylor. The chocolates have already sold out, because nobody ever lost money underestimating the tastes of the internet.

Florida recently signed a “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law, which bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. In a subtle ‘screw you’ tourism campaign, the City of New York is encouraging Floridians to do what every self-respecting queer kid does and move out of your backwater town into to a big city. The campaign will run in five Florida cities, letting people know all are welcome in the Big Apple.

Sesame Street has unveiled their newest puppet, Ameera, a wheelchair user designed to inspire disabled children. Ameera has a spinal cord injury (huh, muppets have spines) and likes basketball and science, also encouraging girls in STEM. Damn, those puppets do more than some people ever will. Sesame Street has a long and admirable history of providing representation in media – and Ameera will be a great new kid on the block for the almost 240 million children worldwide living with disability.

The blindest of blind taste tests has occurred, with Ketchup brand Curtice Brothers’ ingenious new campaign. Playing the long con, they scoured Berlin for the lowest rated restaurants, gave them bottles of ketchup to place on their tables, and waited to see if the reviews changed. Turns out, everyone’s picky little brothers were right, tomato sauce makes everything more edible.

Over on Reddit, r/place returned this year, highlighting the diversity of internet culture and how alive and powerful these online communities really are. Created by Josh Wardle (inventor of everyone’s favourite online puzzle Wordle), r/place was a blank digital canvas made up of one million pixels, where users could replace a pixel with a single colour once every five minutes. If you joined up with other like minded people, you could make a masterpiece. More than 5.9 million tiles were placed per hour by over 1.7 million users, from 236 different countries and territories. If being mesmerised by this chaotic masterpiece isn’t enough, the data is open source for anyone who wants to look under the hood.

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A Danish artist recently took an $84,000 paycheck from an art gallery in return for two blank canvases, in a work he has titled “Take The Money and Run.” This kind of con is called a Bavarian Fire Drill, which is shorthand for: ‘just act like you know what you’re doing, and people will believe you without question.’ Only this artist missed the crucial last step, of changing your name and fleeing to a foreign country.

Submitted for your approval, bosses of the world; an agency in Ontario implemented a four day work week for their staff, with fantastic results. In fact, scientific studies showed working fewer hours for the same pay was an ‘overwhelming success,’ with wellbeing and productivity dramatically improving. …If this sounds like a kid trying to convince dad getting a puppy is a great idea, that’s because it is.

Also providing us with helpful tips about mental health is… a singing cracker? Nabs Canada, a charity designed to support mental health for those in the media, marketing and communications industry has released a hilarious new PSA about the dangers of overworking with a catchy jingle being sung by an anthropomorphic cracker (it makes a bit more sense in context.)

Playboy is making history by having a gay man as their newest cover model. In their 66 year history, this is only the third time a male has been solely featured on the cover, and one of them was Hefner himself, which doesn’t really count. Naturally this has riled up opinionated jerks everywhere; the kind of men reliant on photos of scantily clad women because real ones won’t talk to them anymore.

A campaign has been created to increase Australia’s vaccination numbers by offering a chance to win $4.1 million in prizes, just for getting vaccinated. There’s money in doing the right thing? Some of us just got vaccinated for the good of their fellow man, like a sucker.

The Cresta Awards for international advertising were held this month. Australia didn’t fare quite as well this year, with only one Melbourne agency scoring a win. Fenton Stephens took home the Bronze for ‘Faceboobs’, a fun story of how to skirt Facebook’s nudity standards as a breast augmentation company.

Speaking of boobs (…lets see if that segue gets past the editor) Stella McCartney teamed up with the Netflix show Sex Education to create a video about breast cancer awareness. In a near perfect example of tying a brand to a television show, this PSA continues the show’s themes of frank, funny and informative discussions about sexuality by debunking myths and providing tips on what to look out for.

Wagamama’s new campaign has crash-landed straight out of a retro Kaiju flick. Introducing Vegemama, an honestly kind of adorable giant monster who’s here to destroy cities and eat vegan. I, for one, welcome our new lizard overlord and wish her luck in destroying the companies polluting our planet.

The UK’s advertising standards authority released new rules to stop companies ‘Greenwashing’ their ads and making false statements about their environmental impact. It turns out if you say you’re making steps to help the environment, you have to actually do it, you can’t just lie to your consumer like some kind of Captain Planet villain.

Youtube updated its policies to ban all anti-vax content, in order to stop the spread of harmful misinformation. As someone who unfortunately keeps getting Sky News on their homepage due to Youtube’s algorithm thinking they’re a senior citizen (everyone likes old movies, Google!) this change is greatly appreciated.

The Newport Beach film festival has released a series of adsfeaturing iconic movie scenes being recreated by Californian teenagers. Tonight’s feature presentation is the ‘coffee is for closers’ speech delivered by the employees at a frozen banana stand, and a young lifeguard informing a surfer that he can’t handle the truth. Take Nicholson’s oscars and give them to the teenage girl.

Press Release: Flora & Fauna

Everyday eco, surprisingly better!

Flora & Fauna launches first brand campaign via The Incubator

Award-winning ethical and sustainable online retailer Flora & Fauna have produced their first pure brand campaign, focussing on their ‘surprisingly better’ eco alternatives for everyday household and beauty essentials.

Aimed at the eco-curious, the message is simple: Flora & Fauna makes it ‘easy to be eco’, with more than 10,000 eco-friendly products to shop online. The brand further reinforces its credentials in the ad, referring to their B-Corp status and fully carbon-offset operations.

“We are truly focused on making a difference at F&F and that is not easy to get across in 30 seconds; however the teams at The Incubator and Jumbla have really understood our purpose, values and us,” says Flora & Fauna founder, Julie Mathers. “I’m delighted and so excited to get this campaign out and start helping many more make better choices.”

“Surprisingly Better is a strong message, challenging people to discover both how easy it is to shop for eco products, and also how great those products can be,” says Kyran Docker, Creative Director at The Incubator. “We wanted to help people realise they can easily make a difference with their everyday shopping choices.”

“As long-time fans of Flora & Fauna, we’re delighted to have been asked to help create their first brand campaign”, says Alison Rentoul, Incubator’s Head of Strategy. “We really enjoy working with purpose-driven brands and it was a real pleasure to take this campaign from concepts through to completion, in collaboration with the superb team at Jumbla.”

Two-times winner of ‘Top Sustainable Retailer’ at the 2020 and 2021 power retail awards, Flora & Fauna was founded in 2014 and recently acquired by natural beauty business BWX.

The ads will primarily run on social media and BVOD.

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Did you know a hamburger is statistically way more likely to kill you than the AstraZeneca vaccine? Advertising agencies have come together and created a campaign focusing on debunking the myths behind vaccination safety, serving as a reminder that oh, yeah, I need to call the chemist.

Another PSA doing a fantastic job is Adam and Eve’s funny, irreverent Paralympic campaign designed to destigmatise those with disabilities by changing the usual narrative. It turns out that disabled people don’t want to be either pitied or put on a pedestal, but rather treated as human beings. Who knew?

OkCupid’s new campaign is a love letter to inclusivity. Promoting their inclusion of 22 gender identities and 20 sexual orientations when personalising one’s options, their colourful, fun new ads highlight that they are for ‘every single person.’ So you can now come as you are, as a friend, as you want your prospective romantic partner to be.

Mood Tea encourages us to ‘sip selflessly’ with their new ads to combat youth suicide. Over sixty media and marketing businesses have come together to create this new campaign and all profits raised will go towards funding mental health charities which are helping save young lives.

Also making steps to help the mental health of others, Instagram is rolling out new features to combat racism and hate speech on their platform. Featuring stronger warnings and the ability to limit comments to stop those people who randomly join in a post to shout racist bullshit. If only we had that feature in real life, you wouldn’t have to talk to that one weird uncle anymore.

Instagram has also recently decreed that an Yves Saint Laurentfashion ad has breached the health and safety section of their advertising code for featuring a model that’s too skinny, as it turns out forcing women to starve themselves to meet an unachievable goal set by an ever changing industry isn’t actually very healthy. Time will tell if other brands start rethinking the kinds of models they use, even if only out of fear of ad standards.

One change in the fashion industry has been noticed in a recent Vox article linking the rise in thrifting and sustainability amongst young shoppers with the fact that Gen Z has never known a world without unethical fast fashion. Gen Z is rejecting the idea that fashion is inherently disposable and taking a more DIY approach like they’re all Molly Ringwald at the end of Pretty in Pink. The kids are alright, and they can sew now too.

While we’re on the subject of those young whippersnappers, Tiktok has set a challenge to recreate three classic commercials for Skittles,Snickers and Old Spice. Yes, they probably are the ads you’re thinking of right now. Because one thing will always be eternal, and it’s the way everyone can still hear the voice of the man your man can smell like when they look at an Old Spice bottle.

But how do you shine a light on your branding when you work in an industry that hides in the shadows? Sex, drugs and, presumably, rock and roll are front and centre in this spotlight on three products that are part of a taboo industry and the challenges that come with marketing in that world.

The State Library Victoria’s newest collection is highlighting the history of an iconic Australian brand, Redhead Matches. Take a lesson in how design and storytelling can transform a disposable object into something still being collected after seventy years.

For those still not done learning from history, here’s a collection of the top movie taglines of all time, so that you too can start a debate with your roommate over whether it was wrong to rank Superman below Taxi Driver.

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The four-letter word you should always use with clients.

Every company has (or should have!) their values, mission statement and vision defined and ready to impart to eager new employees. On my first day at The Incubator, I sat down with Jeremy, our CEO, to nut out our plans and objectives for the road ahead and receive a download from him about The Incubator ‘way’. Pen in hand and ready to absorb the pearls of wisdom about to be imparted, as Jeremy began to speak, I dutifully took down his words.

F-U-C-K-I-N-G  C-A-R-E, I wrote. And then stopped, pen poised, waiting for more. But no further words were forthcoming. I looked up. Jeremy looked at me. “That’s it,” he said. “Nothing else matters.”

As someone who deeply believes you should only ever do something with care, or not do it at all, in that moment I knew I’d truly found my people.

In the year since this, I have come to learn not only is Jeremy a man of his word, but he is also absolutely a man of these particular two words, in every sense. This ‘mantra’, for want of a better term, infiltrates every aspect of our daily work at The Incubator. Not in a trite, put it up on the wall and pretend to worship kind of way, but in a very real, we actually do it kind of way.

Those two words float through my mind every time I’m about to send a client email, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Is this email as succinct, helpful, friendly and informative as it can possibly be? Could I make it easier to read, shorter or simpler? Have I attached the document or link referred to, to save them looking it up? Have I kept the job number in the subject to make the string easier to refer back to? Is the work or attachment I’m sending the best it can be? Has it been proofed, checked and double checked to save wasting their time?

When I’m working on creative, I ask myself: have we considered every angle? Even if I think we have, I take a few minutes to think it through one more time, just to make sure. Is this work going to serve the client, their customers, our community and even the world in the best possible way? Or could we push it that bit further? Dig that bit deeper, and go that extra mile to unearth something truly great?

In building connections with suppliers, I hold those two words at the heart of our relationship. Give them what they need so they can produce their best possible work for us, and so we all get to shine. Respect, respect and respect some more. And choose partners who work the same way, who demonstrate that they, in turn, really really care.

Recently we brought three new juniors into our team; and guess what was the number one hiring criteria? Yes, we considered their experience, work and talent. But more than anything, we considered their capacity to care. Of the hundreds who applied, the three we selected were not quite as experienced as others on the list: but they all demonstrated they had the right character to live and breathe The Incubator way. As one of my mentors once told me: hire character, train skill. You can always teach people how to do new things, but you can’t teach anyone how to have the right attitude—if it’s not already part of their nature.

In a world where cutting corners, rushing, bodging and ‘that’ll do’ has become far too common, it’s both reassuring and heartwarming to work with a group of people who still value doing things properly. It’s a point of difference we pride ourselves on, and one so deeply built into our DNA it’s become second nature. I love this about us, and I know our clients do too.

So as you go about your work today, see how often those two words pop into your head, and notice when and where taking those few extra moments to reflect on this fundamentally improves the quality of your work and interactions. It’s surprising how much richer your work and life becomes, when you really Fu@king Care about everything you do.

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The boys in the bath

“I would never buy your deodorant just based on your terrible crap poofy ad. Keep your gay tainted ads off my tv you bunch of idiots.”

What makes a deodorant commercial one of the most complained about ads in all of 2020?

The above complaint, and countless equally charming others, were received last year by the Advertising standards board regarding a series of Tradie body spray and body wash ads featuring comedy duo, The Inspired Unemployed. These ads received vitriol, not because of any shocking or controversial opinions expressed by the pair, but simply because they were situated in the same bathroom as one another when talking about the product. Try to contain your horror.

The complaints received all seem to stem from the same homophobic ideology: “It’s hard to believe this advert was approved to be shown on TV as it contains audible sounds of grunting and exhilaration that are matched to a couple having sex.” It doesn’t matter that the ads are comedic, it seems for a certain sector of the Australian public, the barest of contact between men might still as well be a homosexual orgy of roman proportions.

However, despite partaking in the same actions considered gay in the previous ads, the recent release of Tradie Bodywash’s new series of advertisements featuring players from the Melbourne Storm rugby club didn’t seem to garner the same vitriolic reaction. It’s a scary thought that men are required to be football giants with obliques sharp enough to cut someone before they are considered masculine enough to share a bathroom with another man.

It’s interesting that many of the critics hid prudishly behind the commandments of advertising standards as the foundation of their umbrage. These complaints seem to point more towards a precarious ideal of outdated masculinity than any real moral affront.

…Or, to quote a popular podcast’s catchphrase: ‘Toxic Masculinity ruins the party again.’

Toxic Masculinity denotes the behaviour of men conforming to archaic definitions of ‘maleness’: in other words, machismo, violence and sexism. As Michael Flood wrote in 2018, “The term typically is used to refer to the narrow, traditional, or stereotypical norms of masculinity which shape boys and men’s lives.” These norms include the expectations that boys and men must be active, aggressive, tough, daring, and dominant.” Its hallmarks are the alpha-male oppression of others, rejecting so-called ‘soft’ emotions and encouraging overtly sexist behaviour. Oh, hello Patriarchy. A particularly poisonous blend of misogyny and homophobia, Toxic masculinity decrees feminine or ‘gay’ behaviour in men is not just unacceptable, but even cause for outrage and anger.

But what exactly is so threatening about moving the ancient gender goalposts? Could it be these ‘old school’ men are threatened by the inherent vulnerability of expressing their feelings, exposing their soft underbellies, or embracing their inner femininity? And do they cling onto these outdated ideals even at the expense of their own mental health and wellbeing?

It’s been well documented that emotional suppression leads to increased psychological problems in men, such as depression, substance abuse, addictive behaviours and even suicide. Joseph Vandello, a social psychologist and Professor at the University of South Florida is quoted as saying “Part of the problem among men is that one of the markers of traditional masculinity is independence and rejection of help.” Restricting the way men can relate to each other through the threat of shame and ridicule, leads to a culture of male self-reliance and silence that obstructs emotional development and discourages men from seeking help. “No matter where the turmoil in modern men’s lives comes from, it seems like there would be a clear benefit to men feeling confident in seeking help to cope with mental illness and change the behaviors that harm their health—and that risk hurting others,” writes Amanda Mull in The Atlantic.

How great then, that in spite of the outrage and vitriol still spewing forth from the terrified gender rigid, this new generation of men aren’t afraid of blurring those gender lines. The Inspired Unemployed have built a huge following on their own quirky brand of gender-fluid skewed masculinity. From embracing their ‘bromance,’ to cross-dressing and camp, they have no problem mocking the traditional stereotypes men have been boxed into.

The men from the Melbourne Storm aren’t scared either. These athletes embrace and embody the noblest elements of maleness, like pride in one’s work and the mateship of sport, but they didn’t bat an eyelid at our scripts and scenarios. On the day of shooting, right from the get-go the players were building each other’s confidence offscreen, supporting their mates to deliver the best performances. And once the cameras were rolling, they commanded the screen with confidence and charm, completely oblivious to the so-called ‘shock factor‘ of being in a bubble-bath with another bloke.

Australia has had a long history of sloth-like change when it comes to evolving societal attitudes. A study by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that, “throughout the year 2012, verbal abuse had been experienced by a quarter of all gay men and lesbians, 47% of trans men and 37% of trans women.” Our true embarrassment as a country should not be that we managed to lose both a Prime Minister and a war with emus, but that America beat us to having marriage equality. No one should lose to the United States in a progressiveness race.

In spite of this, progress is being made every day in this country, and our attitudes are changing. Instead of trying to drag everyone kicking and screaming back into a toxic gender-binary past, we think it’s time these curmudgeonly old complainers caught up with the rest of us. At the very least, if these Tradie ads are anything to go by, being a true new man is a hell of a lot of fun.

Check them out for yourself, and let us know what you think!

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