Let me prefix this entry with a disclaimer. I honestly didn’t plan to start writing about advertising again with a negative post. I wanted to start with fireworks, song and dance, and a love letter written to the industry I longed and am proud to work in, but unfortunately, the first set of ads that actively made my fingers itch just happened to rub me up the wrong way. Sorry about that. I’m pretty sure any one that knows me will be able to tell you it was inevitable really… I’m a bit of an arse.
Let me set the scene for you. It was Sunday evening. I’d just eaten a bowl of soup, I had a fever, I felt like my sinuses have been hit with bricks, and the Pride And Prejudice series featuring Colin Firth just happened to be on the TV. I’ll admit now that I was half watching it through a haze of over the counter pain-killers and a game of Monopoly on my iPhone, but I most definitely paid attention during the ad breaks… if only to annoy Victoria by telling her if I liked them or not.
The ads that caught my eye were actually the sponsorship idents for the programme I was so desperately trying to not become hooked on. They were 10 second stings for Warner Leisure Hotels made by the Aesop Agency and you can watch three of them below.
The first thing that hit me after viewing each ident was a feeling of confusion. What exactly was going on in each one? We peer into the lives of an elderly couple going about their rather mundane lives and then skip to shots of the couple doing something vaguely similar in the grounds of a Warner Leisure Hotel. My first thought when seeing the idents was, ‘why, exactly?’. The two different sets of moments seem rather unparalleled on a first watch. If you take the second ident, where Carol tells Colin they’re seeing her sister three times in the coming week, he looks upset to say the least. We then jump to a hotel where we see them shaking hands with others at a dinner table. Are we being told that through the pleasure of a stay in a Warner Hotel we can live more memorable moments that we would in our normal lives? Are these moments in the hotel supposed to be an escape from the mundane? The banality of ‘real life’? Surely it would have been more effective if after we saw Colin being told he was seeing his sister in law three times in a week, it was him alone enjoying the pleasures of a hotel break. At least then there’s a sense of ‘I can enjoy a more exciting and fulfilling time in a WLH than I can in real life’.
The same can be said for any of the idents. If we were to see the couple sacking off their normal lives to flirt with the pleasures only available in a Warner Leisure Hotel, it would at least have the ‘go from A to B’ effect and a simple take away of ‘my life has been improved with this product’. That at least, was my first guess, but on repeat watching, the couple we see in the hotel are actually completely different. The plot thickened.
After at least ten seconds spent rummaging through a google search listing, I stumbled upon the full 40 second ads in the series. They completely changed my perspective of the idents, but they left me feeling exactly the same about the cutdowns. I still didn’t like them.
After viewing the above, we now know that Colin and Carol are neighbours to the unnamed Warner Leisure Hotel couple. It’s like an alternate version of Keeping Up With The Joneses… you know, where you don’t even try to keep up with the, you just sort of, live with what you’ve got.
In the 40 second ads we find out that Colin is dealing with the boredom of being married to an unadventurous woman who refuses to try new things. I almost felt sorry for the poor sod. The second of those 40 second spots above is actually incredibly enjoyable to watch. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t chuckle as he walked into the pool wearing golfing attire, only to pop out the other side with his trunks on. It was nice. It told a story. The ad sold me a lifestlye. After watching those 40 second ads, I know that to try new things as an over 50 couple, I should be packing up and heading off to a Warner Hotel. It was something the idents failed to do.
Maybe I had to have seen the full suite of ads before seeing the idents, but after re-watching the cutdowns I’m still left with a sour taste in my mouth. Why is half the time in a ten second ad showing me something boring? Why isn’t every valuable second showing me exactly how to make my own memorable moments in a WLH? It’s a question that still confuses me. If ‘Life Begins At Warner’, why am I being show a couple who don’t want their life to begin… Well, at least half of a couple who don’t want their lives to begin anyway.
Could it be a case of trying to fit established creative into the 10 second cutdowns, or could it just be a case of misunderstanding… Maybe I just don’t get it. To me, it just seems like a waste. With such a nice 40 second ad in ‘Colin And The Dragon’ and the obvious benefits in staying at a WLH (golf courses, archery and showtunes!), why waste so much valuable ad time showing me people who don’t want to embrace a fun weekend away. Again, why show me a couple who don’t want their exciting new lives to start at Warner? There’s no benefit to that. In my eyes, the cutdowns just don’t do the job they’re supposed to. They don’t do enough to sell me the ‘memorable moments’ promised by Warner Leisure Hotels… The cutdowns just went a bit wrong.
If you’ve got any thoughts on the ads I’d love to hear your opinions. After all, I’m merely one person, completely out of the target audience, trying not to watch Pride And Prejudice on a Sunday evening, getting completely confused by ten second idents that aren’t even aimed at me. It’s a tough life.