Tag Archives: advertising

When Cutdowns Go Wrong.

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.

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Split Screen Is The New Nostalgia: Part Two

I never understood the draw to Blackberry. I especially don’t understand the draw to Blackberry now, when everyone and their Mother has an iPhone, or an Android capable phone. It was just one of those things/fads/wants that passed me by. How fitting of me to try and wade in on the most recent Blackberry ad as they attempt to sell me their way of life, their mantra, and of course, their new handset.

Here’s what Blackberry had to say;

We believe life’s made up of two kinds of people. Those content to go with the flow, and those who grab life with both hands. If you are someone who seizes opportunities, asks the questions, makes things happen, BlackBerry is designed for you.

Thanks for the life affirming choice defined by a telephone Mr.Blackberry. I better get a handset so people know I’m the ‘get up and go’ kind of cat that doesn’t follow anybody’s rules, not even his own! Facetiousness aside, the advert is okay I guess. It sells itself on the idea that a person is defined by what phone they have. In fact, I can remember a time when you were defined by what phone you had (does this still happen?). If it was anything other than a Nokia 3210 you were the scum of the earth…

That reminds me of a little story.

I’ve only ever been mugged once in my life, but there could have been a second time. I was surrounded by a group of at least 5 late teens when I was about 14 years old in the centre of Manchester. I was told to give them my phone. I of course obliged, because it’s only a phone, and I quite like my face the shape that it is. On pulling a blue brick with detachable antenna from my pocket, I was immediately laughed at, and told to be on my way, phone in hand. That’s right, when I was 14, even muggers didn’t want my phone.

Distractions aside, the advert does it’s job. It sells the kind of lifestyle Blackberry want their phone owners to have. They’re attracting the strong thinking individuals clamouring to get away from the large market reach of Apple. Has it been successful? Time will tell. How do I feel about the advert? Well I’m glad you asked…

First thing’s first; the soundtrack is god awful. In the ad we’re trying to associate with the images on the right, or at least we’re supposed to if we fit in with the Blackberry way of life. So why on earth is the soundtrack so wishy-washy? So boring?! It’s lift music. It’s exactly what the viewer is not supposed to be; indecisive! It’s the entire opposite of the campaign idea.

Text is kept to a minimum throughout, so very much like the Gu advert ‘Give In’, we’re left with imagery, and our own imagination. That’s usually a nice experience, but here the choice of imagery is a tad strange. None of it really screams ‘individual’. The choices could have had a little more thought put into them, as some are a bit lacking. Fillers if you will.

However, there are a few hidden gems in there. The “can’t be bothered” vs the “can’t wait” is at least a second baser, but hidden in the last fifteen seconds of so is an absolute home-run. One of life’s great questions. If you didn’t see it, take a look.

 

 

That, is fucking genius, and I’ll applaud the creative until the cows come home for that one. It’s perfect. It’s witty, clever, and questioning, all in two seconds of moving image. In fact, sack the entire advert off, run this as a billboard campaign, use the line “We believe life’s made up of two kinds of people. Those content to go with the flow, and those who grab life with both hands” (or the line from the ad, whatever), and the tagline “Which one are you”? Heck, I’d buy a Blackberry right now if that existed.

I don’t like ending a post on a high note, so we’ll go for the shit sandwich approach. Music; rubbish. Imagery of glass; genius. The line “Do You?”; hate it. I don’t really know why either. It just doesn’t sit right. Maybe I’ve got some sort of vendetta against the written word at the moment, because I hated the line from the Suzuki advert too. Who knows.

Anyway, I’m off to stare at a glass of water in the hope it’ll magically turn into a Blackberry. That, or I’m just going to drink it.

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Split Screen Is The New Nostalgia: Part One

In a rather elegantly filmed 41 second short, the WWF (the guys that like animals, not the sweaty guys in tights) are trying to insinuate that we are all connected. Animals and humans that is.

The execution is incredibly simple. The WWF have taken pre-existing footage of animals going about their daily lives; swimming, sleeping, having a wander… blinking. Then they’ve refilmed and choreographed the exact same footage, but with human beings in place of the animals; cycling, sleeping, having a wander…blinking. It’s a bit cutesy, but the ad manages to pull the heart strings in the correct direction. You’d have to be stone hearted to not be upset for little Marcel holding his head in his hands as he watches his habitat burn.

Sorry, I’m being a bit insincere, but it’s all a guise to stop me from gushing at the fact this advert is actually damn good at what it’s trying to achieve. Sure it has the same message as any other appeal advert, but at least it’s shot to make it look nothing like an appeal advert. It’s artistic, it’s clever, it’s nicely choreographed and framed, and it’s already had me click through twice. Of course both of those times my Adobe flash plug-in crashed, but one day it’ll load the website.

While we certainly share the planet earth, and we are almost definitely connected, I bet a tiger has never had to CTRL+ALT+ESC his way out of a crashed Firefox. Lucky bastards.

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Vans – Since ’66

Here we have a very inspirational short on my favourite footwear brand. A short and concise history of Vans.

“It was never about waving around the brand like a flag. It was always about the people” – Paul Van Doren

If only other companies worked like that. I’m sure I’ll be bringing back at least 3 pairs of Vans when I head Stateside in less than three weeks. For now, I’ll just rewatch.

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We’ve Been Go Compare’d

A couple of days ago I posted an image of a defaced Go Compare advert. I looked, I laughed, I posted, I moved on. The world was a great place to live in, that was until my lunch time when I saw this on facebook.

Now, that’s a very similar style of graffiti to the one I posted the other day. A serial attacker maybe? Who knows.

Well, guess what. I do. It’s been playing on my mind all day, so I went on a little research spree. Now without seeing that second image I would have lived my life merry in the notion that only I (and you) had seen the aforementioned graffiti, but two similar occurrences? Impossible. It seems there have been a few other “vandalism” attempts on subsequent Go Compare billboards.

This is all starting to seem like a bit of a consipiracy to me.

Well I guess it’s no surprise that the images I’ve posted are part of a broader campaign to, get this, bring even more attention to the launch of the new Go Compare advert. Mainly by abusing the fact that they have the most annoying character on television and most hated advert two years in a row by running a campaign making fun of their own star, all the while encouraging the smartphone obsessed public to eagerly snap pictures and send them flying through the internet to various social media websites for a couple of extra thumbs up? Clever Girls (read girls as ‘advertising bastards’).

I can’t be angry for being fooled when it’s a stroke of genius by the creatives at hand. I haven’t seen Gio’s new ad, but I’ll be sure to seek it out one day when I can be bothered purely out of respect for tricking me into reposting their billboards. Now that I think about it properly, the website address and logo hadn’t been defaced in any of the ads, and I’m pretty sure that’s the first thing that most anti-advertising paint specialists go for. Oh to be you and naive again, and not have to ruin what could have been an enjoyable entry. Damn my mind, and damn the clever creatives.

Bugger. Turns out even the Youtube channel is covered in graffiti. My detective work certainly needs a bit of practise.

Don’t mind me. I’m just a gullible idiot.

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Suzuki – The Never Ending Test Drive

I watched TV today for the first time in about two months. I think I managed around twenty minutes or so before I popped Netflix on, but that’s twenty minutes more than most days! During that fateful time I saw an advert that actually had me grinning, sitting on the edge of my seat, and getting excited about showing it off to friends.

It’s rather bloody good isn’t it! Sure, it starts off quite slow but from about twenty seconds onwards, it’s pure advertising gold.

Obviously the premise is that the agent never gets driven back to the dealership, as the lovely gentleman test driving the car can’t ever be parted with it which is all well and good, but that’s not what drew me in. It was the attention to detail that impressed me so! The comedic set-ups were amusing and got funnier as the advert went on, but I think the pièce de résistance had to be the family portrait including the agent himself in the background. Genuine chuckles.

Now you need to picture the scene. I’m sat on my armchair getting visibly excited about how much I’m enjoying this advert, and all I could think about was the tag-line. It was going to literally punch me in the face with brilliance, and before you know it I’d be driving my own Suzuki Swift in a car-park very very slowly in small circles. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. What actually happened was me throwing my arms up in disgust, screaming “What. What the fuck was that”, and then getting disappointed. How can such an interesting and witty advert be finished off with such a droll tagline. Someone shoot the bloody copywriter. He should be ashamed of himself. I don’t think the line could be any more bland if it tried. Sure it sort of fits with the strategy, but it doesn’t do what I wanted it to! It doesn’t grab you by the bollocks and scream “YES! WE KNEW WE HAD YOU ALREADY, BUT YOU REALLY NEED TO BUY THIS CAR!!”. In all honesty, it ruins what could have been a contender for ‘best advert of July 3rd’.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I could have done better, but someone, somewhere in the world could have thought of a much better line than “Once you try it, you have to have it”. Why not just “You have to have it”?…. I’m pretty sure you’re already thinking of a better line now. Bah, it annoys me just thinking about it. Ruining a bloody good advert like that. Grumble grumble grumble.

Any way, let’s not distract from what should be heralded as a damn good execution. Well done Suzuki, and everyone involved from The Red Brick Road. Excuse my grumbling about your tagline, but when your art direction is that good, your copy has to be just as good, if not better. It’s your own fault really, if you think about it.

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Samsung Mobile – It’s Still Got A Pen, But At Least This Time It’s Patriotic.

I think we all remember how I felt about Samsung Mobile and their ridiculously over the top advertisement and brilliant USP of “pen”. Of course, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should mosey on over to a previous post, and have a read.

Unfortunately for me, Samsung have again reared their heads with a new internet only spot featuring their magical phone with a pen, and once again, it’s celebrity endorsed.

Bloody hell he’s a handsome man.

Now Samsung, let me make this painfully clear. This is how you should have advertised your phone in the first place! It’s creative, it’s clever, and it’s easily rewatchable. Less “hey look we have a pen! Take that Iphone”, and much more “Isn’t this entertaining. By the way, this product brought it to you!” I did notice they managed to sneak some useless pen-usage in there, but at least that wasn’t the whole crux of the advert. I wonder if Samsung were annoyed that Beckham took the picture using his finger and not their magical USP?

Want to know something that’s doubley amazing? This entire advert was shot in two hours due to Beckham’s availability! Of course, post-processing played a key part in the whole effort, as it’s painfully obvious Becks couldn’t actually play the entire song with keepy-uppies, but that shouldn’t take away from the sheer joy brought by viewing the ad.

It pains me to say it, but well done Samsung. You’ve managed to recover in my eyes after the travesty of your Super Bowl advert, but rest assured, I’ll be on ‘pen-watch’ whenever your product name is mentioned. It’s not a USP; it’s a fucking pen.

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The Copywriter Versus The Art Director

It’s the age old question? Who would win in a fight? Which one takes more skill? Who makes the most money? Most importantly, who gets the most girls?!

Some clever sod has decided to create pieces of artwork depicting the never ending struggle of words over images. I’m going to hazard a guess that the creator is an art director, albeit an almost neutral one.

Ah the easy life of a copy writer.

While the images may scream stereotypes, the pen+pad over the tablet, and the brain over the hands certainly rings true. I’m just waiting for the pen vs pencil and it’ll be a triple hit. You should give the guys that made these a like on Facebook, they certainly deserve it;

Copywriters Vs Art Directors on Facebook

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Dogs; Advertisers Best Friends.

“Never work with animals or children.”

W.C Fields had a point, but I really don’t think the advertising world was listening. Next to people, dogs are more than likely the most used ‘prop’ to sell a product, not cows as I once thought! I’m pretty sure that whenever a creative takes an idea involving some form of animal to a CD, they end up leaving sour-faced and brutalised, but some where, at some time this week, a CD will okay an advert with a dog in it. Man’s best friend? Or should I say; A product’s best friend.

Take for example, this years Super Bowl. Two different products, two different approaches, two different ideas, but only one type of animal. Which one is your favourite?

It’s rather obvious to me which one is the better advert, but what did you all think? I bet you went with the one that doesn’t treat the dog as a glorified slave. The surprising difference between the two, is that somehow, Bud Light ‘Here We Go’ is supposed to be advertising not only their beer, but also the fact that you should rescue dogs. For starters, rescue dogs from where? The streets? Pounds? Your neighbours? The advert is quite clearly not backed by any reputable dog based charity, but in a short space of time, who’s going to care? Which genius creative thought that would be a good idea? How long are we going to have to wait until we see a newspaper article featuring a dog that choked to death on a beer bottle, trying to bring it to his master?!

Sorry, I went a bit Daily Mail there! Sure, it’s all in good heart and humour, but would the advert have run if the dog was replaced by an adopted child? Didn’t think so. Facetiousness aside, I just prefer the Doritos ad. It’s just… funnier. The final pay off is much better. What on earth is the final pay off to the Bud Light ad? A dog on a lilo? Hilarious. This Doritos dog done killed a cat, and is bribing some dude with a bag of CRISPS! I wonder if the gentleman in question would find a cats head in his bed if he told on the dog? Mind you, that thing’s fucking massive. I know I wouldn’t be dobbing him in crisps or no crisps.

Any way, I’m sure it won’t be too long before the next dog based advert is shown to the masses, but I do hope it’s something better than Bud Light’s attempt. What upsets me most is that the general public voted Bud Light’s advert higher than it did Dorito’s. They’re a weird bunch aren’t they. I wonder if they’re the same people who complained about this ad because “the dog looked a little scared”.

Yeah, get him to bring me a beer and become my friend’s and my free waiter. That’ll cheer him up no end. Of course he’ll be fed…. if he doesn’t drop the bottle again.

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Chrysler – Half Timed And Speechless

When you’re supposed to be the “guy that’s good at words” as my friend once put it, it’s quite confusing to be left without them. It’s rare yes, but there are times when I’m lost. When I’m left speechless.

The end of La Haine in my first year Film Studies class is a fond memory of mine, not because the ending is particularly happy, more so that it was one of the only times when my entire classroom of loud mouth college kids had ever been quiet.

The second event was when my now girlfriend gave me her phone number instead of giving me her ‘myspace‘ page like I asked for (I figured it would be a way of saying “I like you”, without being the creepy guy that makes a move on a girl in a club).

The third time was when I saw Jeff Wall’s ‘Beyond The Invisible Man’ at the Tate London as an aspiring photographer/creative. I can remember gawping at that one image for at least forty five minutes trying to take in every little intricacy in the photograph. If you haven’t seen Jeff Wall’s work before, I highly recommend it. It’s an art director’s dream!

Lastly, and most recently, was during half time at the Super Bowl. No, it wasn’t brought on by Madonna’s performance, although I was definitely silent through out, this moment of wordlessness was brought on by Chrysler’s stunning half time advert;

This ad couldn’t be more perfect if it tried. Granted, it was lucky as hell that at the half time break the game itself was still wide open, but maybe there was another version if it was a one sided score-fest? Either way, I could listen to the advert over and over, and that’s for two reasons; the delivery of the script by Mr.Clint Eastwood, gravely voice in tow, and the nature of the script itself, and more importantly, the way it’s written.

I’m obviously not American, but I like most mid twenty-something kids grew up with a huge American influence. It was always seen as “The Country“. Everything cool came from there; The Power Rangers, TMNT, Batman, X-Men, and countless other heroes of my childhood. Manhattan is my holy grail of cities, and will always hold a dear place in my heart for the way it’s mesmerised me through out my lifetime. The video games that I play and watch have huge sport like status in the USA, and I am constantly captivated by streams and events shown live at ridiculous times in the morning just to be a part of something.. so I think what I’m trying to get at, is that while the script may not be directed at me, not only can I understand it, but I can relate to it. Ladies and Gentlemen, give that copywriter a raise. A fucking enormous one.

The script is just flawless. Take the word America out of the script, and change Detroit for any other major city in the world, and it can be about any where. That’s the pure genius of the writing. It can be perceived by anyone as being about their lives. Everyone is hurting at the moment. Jobs are hard to find for anyone. I’m the one stuck in a retail job when I want to be writing, so hey, it’s about me! It’s not so much of a wake up call, but a reassurance that everything is going to be okay, and isn’t that all everyone needs to hear once in a while? Doesn’t everyone need a pat on the back and a point in the right direction?

Three people at my place of work have had panic attacks recently about the state of their lives. Stuck in what the perceive as a dead-end job with no prospects, but without the ability to leave said job to chase their dreams, as they’re lucky to even have a job at this moment in time. Every time this has happened I’ve been the one to calm them down, and politely tell them that everything will be okay, they just need to work hard at what they want to achieve. If only Clint Eastwood would follow me around and say the same.

This ad though, makes me feel a little safer inside. Maybe that’s stupidity on my own behalf, but I’ll listen again and again, amazed by the script, the delivery, and the way it makes me feel. It’s one of those ads that makes me proud to be interested in this field, and for every person who brings up Bill Hicks, they’ll be another one moved by this little 2 minute short.

Overly sentimental? Maybe.

Do I care? Not in the slightest.

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