No Business Like Kindness Business

Gucci dropped an advert on the 1 January: a 3:20 minute video which has British singer and the brand’s official face Harry Styles perform a song and trip the light fantastic with Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I am exactly the kind of sucker who falls for glittery people performing well-choreographed moves to swing music, and also the PR-people at Gucci are infuriatingly good at their job.

No one cares what Styles sings on the video, but since you insist, it’s a rather nonsensical, non-offensive jingle called Treat People With Kindness. When the advert, sorry, music video dropped on Friday, it was covered not by all music magazines, but every single heavy-weight fashion magazine instead. Gucci posted a short clip of the video with following: “For his new music video, Harry Styles wore a custom crystal embellished jacket, lace shirt with front ruffle detail, floral silk jacquard shirt, wool wide leg 70s flared trousers, knitted sequin-embellished argyle vest, crystal embellished grosgrain bow tie and silk satin cummerbund. #AlessandroMichele”

Not one publication seemed to pay much attention to the song itself, which will not go down in pop music history in the manner of Robin Beck’s First Time in the 1988 Coca Cola advert. Instead the silk satin cummerbund received several mentions.

Everybody was thankful that Gucci was treating Styles and Waller-Bridge with kindness by providing them a matching set of crystal embellished argyle vests for their New Year’s Day special. And the message, “treat people with kindness” – what’s not to like? Don’t be surprised to find it printed on a Gucci tote bag later. It will be a tough competition between that and the other Instagram classic “in a world where you can be anything, be kind”, which surely already features on various merch.

Twas the day of not one, but two audio-treats bursting with kindness, as I also listened to the first podcast episode of the runaway royals Meghan and Harry. The couple reportedly received gazillions for their podcast deal with Spotify. I’m obviously not privy to the details of said contract, but like everybody else by now, I have one pandemic’s worth of experience from listening to podcasts.

The first episode by Archewell Audio, the name of their podcast and also their charity organisation, was half an hour of rather unstructured, if enthusiastic potpourri, featuring all sorts of famous people Meghan and Harry know, each expressing their thoughts about kindness and human connection in short clips. To confuse matters further, Harry, or Meghan, would frequently cut in the middle of their guest’s recordings just to add ‘what an amazing person this is’. Throughout the episode I had no idea who was speaking at any given moment, except for maybe Harry, who was the only one with a posh British accent.

We have experienced compassion and kindness, from our mothers and strangers alike,” the couple makes known on their website. These experiences will later be transformed into a Netflix production, also worth gazillions. But then again, not everybody has ‘duty to truth through a compassionate lens’.

Maybe the Obamas made it look too effortless, the way they carved out careers and financial opportunities post-White House, so that any renegade royal now thinks that pushing ‘record’ will automatically be worthy an Oscar.
(A very unkind comment of me, I do realise. They only have one episode out, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt as regards future material.)

Kindness and compassion are absolutely commendable topics to be advocated by both commercial and charity enterprises. Fashion brands can no longer ignore the duty that comes with influence, Stella McCartney being an obvious one, with many other examples in the luxury industry, with causes ranging from environmental issues to social justice. If a feminist slogan t-shirt can bring in upwards of €500 in revenue, jumping the kindness-train is definitely worth a shot, no?

Apparently the planets are thus aligned that this year shall see a surge in collectivity and sense of community, and, depending on the astrologist du jour, I’m sure, also in kindness. As long as it doesn’t become something that the ultra-rich liberal elite will further capitalise for their own good, surely treating people with kindness must be welcomed with open arms.

To round off, I’m treating you to two commercials, one from 1988 and one from yesterday. One has a really good soundtrack, the other one really good clothes, and on both videos people manage to not spill their beverages despite moving at considerable speed.

Listen to Archewell podcast at your own risk.

Photo credit: Jared Hageman

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