Today I will be showing you one of my favourite advertising campaigns of all time. One that still makes me laugh to this day, and is as repeatable now, as it was back in 1999. I am of course, talking about the ‘Seriously Easy Going‘ campaign for Malibu Rum.
Wow. Just wow. What a collection of ads, and that’s only three out of the series! I honestly think, that if you didn’t laugh, then you probably haven’t got a sense of humour. I first agreed that this campaign was worthy of it’s praise with my first creative partner, Tom Waters. We were both working together at Pravda Advertising in Manchester, on a placement we’d managed to snare through a meeting with the then creative director Simon Sinclair. I don’t know how it came up, but we watched the entire series, and spent three days quoting off our favourite lines. Looking back, I should have included this campaign in my dissertation. You see, this is one of the kinds of advertising I aspire to make. Others, and myself in my dissertation, called this kind of advertising, ‘oblique’.
Oblique is a style of advertising that’s becoming more and prevalent within the global market. In a sense, advertisers are keeping audiences entertained while references to any sort of product are kept to a very minimal status. Alex Benady explains it perfectly when he wrote; “The traditional commercial was a scientifically modulated piece of communication in which consumer behaviour was scrutinised, product use closely studied and desired responses deliberated upon at length. In the new approach [oblique advertising], almost anything can be inserted into the branded space as long as it is entertaining and brings joy”
I can remember writing that at about 6am, fag in mouth, with my tenth cup of tea sitting in front of me. Words; I spat them, and I got a bloody good mark too. Anyway, to go back to why I liked the campaign. It was probably the first time I’d seen an advert and actively flicked through the channels in the hope of catching it again. I was at the right age for this type of referencing, and repetition in the school yard to be important. It’s such a pity Malibu tastes like crap, because I’d probably be drinking it off the back of these ads if it didn’t. The reason it sat so well, is because the ads are genuinely funny. I don’t believe you if you told me you didn’t try to imitate ‘Oh man, it’s total gridlock’ in a unashamedly, casually racist, Caribbean accent. It’s like when your friends told you to say ‘beercan’ without sounding like a Caribbean man trying to say ‘bacon’. Try it, I dare you. Beercan. Beercan. Beercan. Fuck. The adverts scream for repetition.
They’re taking the piss out of us, but did we really know it at the time? Obviously we all did, but it’s different looking back as a 23 year old, than looking on as a 13 year old. I was probably thinking about how silly the entire situation was, rather than thinking that a couple of well educated creatives had dreamt the idea up. The final nail in the coffin, is that the observations the creatives have made in the ‘melon’ ad, hit home more than they ever could. You see, I work in retail, and I’ve got dozens of stories about how silly the job can be. Strange requests, silly store policies, and wacky events that really shouldn’t happen everyday, but unfortunately do. You have no idea how many times we have to recite store policy to people who just don’t want to listen, and the amount of times I’ve actually had to mention that the visual merchandising items really are for display purposes only. Watching that particular advert back has me chortling, albeit quietly, to myself. It’s enjoyable to watch. The entire campaign is enjoyable to watch.
Through the year, I’ll hopefully be showing you lots of my favourite advertisements, ranging from press, TV, print, web and on through to digital, and viral. This is but one of the many campaigns I have pleasure in watching back whenever I get the chance, and one I’m more than happy to show to other people. Sure, we’re being sold a product at the end of the day, but at least they haven’t tried to jam it down our throats, and I know people will always sit on the fence about advertising. It’s usually the people who work in the creative industry that genuinely love advertising, and the people who don’t work in the creative industry, who hate the idea of being ‘sold’ items, or being persuaded to part with money for things they don’t really need. But you have to agree that in the right circumstances, advertising should be able to make a person think better of themselves, or maybe just cheer them up a little.
Look at that fucking gorilla. I hated him. I hated him so much, and I had no idea how it was going to sell chocolate to anyone, but I watched it over and over again. We’re talking hundreds of times, trying to work out how in the hell this advert was so popular. It spread like wild fire. Like a bad rash, and the guys at Fallon, could only sit back in their chairs, watch the awards roll in, and feel proud of themselves. It’s funny, I never saw sales figures relating to the release of that advert, but with the brand awareness being so high, I don’t think Cadbury could have cared less.
Maybe, in the not too distant future, I’ll have a chance to make an advert that someone will look back on in the same way. That’s the dream any way, but for now, I really think you should watch the campaign again, and repeat after me; YES. I do want that fish.