There are some things more important than advertising at The Next Wave.

We’ve lent our hand with issues in the past dealing with social justice, freedom of speech, single-payer healthcare, urban schools, veterans’ issues, fair taxation, and directly helping those to whom the struggle is real.

We don’t have a foundation, nor do we give a set amount to ease our souls (read: wallets) come tax season. No carbon offsets here. We believe in direct action, providing our skills and tools of our trade to make an impact. We help candidates we believe in—not based on a D or R next to their name—but on their principles and character. Yeah, most of us here lean left, but we’re not ideologues. We know a good idea when we hear one, and reach out to conservatives who have them.

This means our business occasionally experiences the cold shoulder in certain circles of the community as a result of our actions. That’s fine with us. We’d rather make a difference than have everyone like us.

Propaganda works. Good campaigns need even better messaging. Listed below are just some of the examples of things we’ve done. Not for our bottom line, but from the bottom our hearts.

And hey, if you prefer the agency with no soul, we’ve got a list you can check out.

Winning awards is nice. Changing the world is better.

We enter the American Advertising Federation Awards each year to support our local AAF chapter. We believe a strong, local professional association, where peers gather to work to advance our field is critical. Unfortunately, the local Dayton AAF Chapter banned us a few years ago, without more than a 2 line unsigned note. Since we’ve always participated with the Cincinnati chapter too, we’re a member there and entered our work in their show.

Typically, Cincinnati is a much tougher competition, with much larger agencies and larger clients (like P&G)- and larger budgets. They also tend to choose higher caliber judges. This year, we were awarded 2 Gold’s and a Silver. Gold’s automatically advance to the Regionals, and Silvers may be advanced for an additional entry fee. We paid to advance our silver, and we got word that our Gold’s won Silver at the regional level. 51 awards were given at the regionals- including 15 to Cincinnati chapter, the most of any of the seven cities in our district. We paid to advance our Silvers to see how they do on the National Level and came up goose-eggs.

The two campaigns were in the political advertising category: Surgeon Generals Warning #BLM, and BLM- Police Rebrand. We’re very proud of the work, and the recognition it’s getting, but would prefer if our country would make this type of messaging unnecessary. We would love to work with National Police Organizations on a national stand down/retraining effort. We say this, on the 4th day of the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd.

Here are the winning entries:

Surgeon General’s Warning

BLM Police Rebrand:

We’re not done with these ads, and will continue to help communities come together to address serious issues of civil rights, voting rights, environmental protection, workers rights and health care for all. We’ve founded 2 non-profits to reform politics as we know them, on both a local and national level. Reconstructing Dayton exists to improve our own community, and to test the policys and ideas of The Modern Policy Institute. This is not what most ad agencies do as part of their business mission. It’s why we consider ourselves an Activist Agency.

American Police need a brand refresh

Do little kids still want to grow up to be police officers in America? By the time they’ll be old enough for the job, they’ll have seen a constant stream of news of police officers making major mistakes and causing significant damage to their professions reputation.

If Police in America were a major airline, which killed random customers daily and “accidentally” do you think they’d still be “flying the friendly skies?”

Reputation management is something we do at The Next Wave. This would be a major challenge, up there with getting kids to stop smoking, or people to trust a brand again after a major fail. We believe we need a national conversation to take place about what it means to “serve and protect” and being an “officer of the peace” looks like in 2021.

One thing we’re certain of, showing up in military gear to a legal protest is probably not the best way to diffuse the situation. We put together a series of posters/memes to try to show how ridiculous this has become. Note, we don’t own the rights to these photos, nor do we have permission to use them. However, since it’s educational and for public criticism of the new “trade dress” of police in the US- we believe it falls under fair use.

Cops no longer dress for sucess. They dress to kill

Are police making a fashion statement? Jonathan Bachman for Reuters

If you think you need an MRAP to serve and protect you've already failed your job

If this is how far the balance of power has shifted, police have failed. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Does this look like "the pursuit of life liberty and happiness"

Fear is a horrible motivator. Photo by Roscoe Myrick | Flickr/CC BY 2.0

We believe it’s time for a national re-training of the police in this country, It’s time to re-examine what service police are here to provide and it’s value and values. When protesters say “No justice, no peace” what does that mean?

Can you honestly tell little kids that being a police officer is still a desirable job when they will hear stories of police shooting people in their garages, holding a subway sandwich, or in a raid in the middle of the night, or even when an officer comes “home” to the wrong apartment and shoots it’s occupant? The common thread- is the victims are Black. I’m not linking to any of these stories or naming names, because to do so is actually minimizing the scope of the problem. It’s happening way too often, way too frequently, and that’s the basis of our call for a rebrand and some reputation management.

It starts with public perception. It starts with how you come dressed to the party. It’s time for reform.



Government warnings on being black in America

Mixing business with politics is an old school no-no. Not at The Next Wave. We believe in using our creative powers for good, to make people think, to change the world.

When these hit Facebook there was instant discussion.  We’re looking to change the conversation about what being Black means in America, because #BlackLivesMatter.

Government warning on Drinking wile black

GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, BLACK MEN should not drink alcoholic beverages because it’s now a legal excuse for police to kill you. (2) Being black impairs your ability to live free in America, and may cause police problems, including being shot in the back.

Governement warning on black men interacting with polices

GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, BLACK MEN should avoid all interactions with police. You are more likely to be arrested, beaten or shot. (2) Being black impairs your ability to live free in America, and may cause equality issues, including being shot in the back.

Government warning running while black

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Running causes BLACK MEN a higher chance of death in encounters with police. You are more likely to be arrested, beaten or shot than a white man (2) Being black impairs your ability to live free in America, and may cause equality issues, including being shot in the back. Quitting running now greatly reduces serious risks to your life, unless it’s part of being a pro athlete.

These are all internal work for messaging to the masses. No client involved. If your media outlet wants to run them- contact us for press ready versions.

Our soul won’t be sold

Soul stabbinbg logo. It's not a principle until it costs you moneyThe email came from another local agency. Can you please give us all the access to the client site, passwords, login info, account data etc. The client was copied on the email.

It wasn’t just any client, it was one of our oldest. One who we helped them birth their business, outgrow a location, move, go through many management changes. Dropped everything to make things happen for them- without rush fees. Their business was like a second home, comfortable, inviting. We know the staff by name and they know us.

Getting the dear john email hurt. The conversation that followed hurt more. The client was crying.

Our activism had collided with their politics.

For almost 20 years we’d been their champions, and they’d been ours. But, now that was all coming to an end. Because we won’t sell our soul to the machine, and they became a part of it.

The loss of their account won’t damage us at all financially. They may find out that they will pay a lot more to work with the competition. They may find out that the drop everything and get this done costs a lot more. It might not get done as quickly. They may pay for the learning curve of a new agency- or, they may just listen a little more, and do things outside what their comfort zone allowed before and feel absolved. These things happen.

But, when it comes to our soul, if anything, we’ve hardened our resolve to continue to fight the machine, to make things better in our community.

Because as the legendary ad man Bill Bernbach of DDB said “it’s not a principle until it costs you money.”


Ad Topics