There are recurring themes in advertising, and one of them, if you haven’t already noticed, is nostalgia.
Agencies and companies are trying to make their product relevant, by tying it to fond memories of days gone past; to times of happiness and fulfilment; and to things that every person sort of likes, but doesn’t really know why. It’s getting boring, and it’s getting old.
What’s made me turn into The Grinch That Stole Fun? Well, this advert. T-Mobile; What Britain Loves.
It’s not a bad advert in any way shape or form. It goes so far as to mention the fact that “British people love nostalgia”, so at least the writing is as close to self aware as possible. It’s shot brilliantly, and the seamless integration from one point of interest to the next is wonderful. The voice over from Harry Hill is as good as it can be, and the humour throughout is better than others have come close to (Adding Fenton genuinely made me chuckle but that’s against the point I’m trying to reach). The problem I have with this advert, is that I’m sick and tired of seeing this same idea of fake ‘nostalgia’ being banded around like it’s the best thing since sliced fucking bread.
I’m so tired in fact, that I’m going to copy and paste my own blog post from May 5th last year, talking about the exact same pattern in advertising. You can read the full entry here, but for now, here’s some direct quotes.
“Oh look, it’s another ‘nostalgic’ take on the British summer”. Snore. When are people going to realise that nostalgia is so over rated. I’m pretty sure Thomas and me were drawing up radio scripts and scamps like this almost three years ago under the guise of Say Wat?! Creatives. Nostalgia is getting boring. I’m sick of ‘how it used to be‘ and trying to relive great times, and I’m not even twenty-four yet. I shouldn’t be able to remember ‘The Good Times’, but they’ve been forced down my throat enough times to make me feel like I lived during them.
Anyway, when were these ‘good times’ exactly? I have cracking days all year round! I want to relive last Thursday, just for shits and giggles. It’s all a bit silly really. We’re all getting older, and while remembering the past is fun, I do wish advertisers would stop trying to push their products with the strenuous link of ‘hey, remember that good time you had once? Have this and it will be exactly the same!’. Please stop, for the good of all of us.
Well, that seems awfully apt for the advert I’ve just watched, but it was written almost nine months ago. The advert in question was this little spot for Pimms;
Funnily enough, when I wrote that article, I was comparing it to another ‘nostalgic’ advert that had aired a few years earlier. If you’re wondering what that one was, have a shufties at this;
If you’re going to try and advertise your beverage on the idiosyncrasies and eccentricity of the British summer, you probably shouldn’t bother. It’s already been done by someone else, and it’s already better than whatever you’ll manage to come up with. The ad I’m talking about is a lovely little T.V spot for Bulmer’s Cider, and one which I still enjoy watching.
That has almost exactly the same premise but it isn’t, you know, shit.
Hey advertising world, feeling stagnant much?
Now you may be asking “Hey, Ciaran, who the fuck do you think you are? You haven’t even got a job in the industry, but you feel perfectly happy putting down other people’s hard work because it’s a tiny bit similar to another ad?”. Well, yes, I’m a nobody indeed, but I find it incredibly strange and actually rather off putting that I’m sitting here almost four years after the Bulmers ad was first aired, and nine months after the Pimms advert was first aired, commenting on an incredibly similar advert, using exactly the same methodology as two previous adverts, and the outcome will still be that members of the public will eat it up purely because it references something funny from the past, or something that someone, somewhere, has ‘liked’ on Facebook.
I do wish the general public wasn’t so easy to corral into a false sense of nostalgia. Life’s really not as shit as you think it is. Snap out of it.