Smart Advertising that tells it’s own story

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That Dick Smith Australia Day Ad

PR stunt perhaps? But more seriously, a poor and very amateur attempt at advertising. Many comments in social media hark back to a more ‘open’ time in 1970 something. Exactly. And the charity sign-off doesn’t excuse the execution.

Carlton Draught Beer Police Chase TV ad

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Clemenger BBDO Melbourne have made a new blokes beer ad. It’s good to see a big ad for a big Aussie brand taking centre stage again.

Enviable ad budgets, blokes, beer, it’s all there, but there is a nice quirky ’80’s movie parody idea behind it that supports Carlton Draught‘s ‘Made From Beer’ positioning. We expect a lot from big brand beer ads and this one delivers.

The ad takes you on an entertaining story and is played out with some nice touches with a good deal of mirth.

If Carlton want to be a bit blokey, young, fun and trendy, then this should work wonders.

A nice touch was the fact it was distributed to the AFL database before it is aired in the ‘footy’ finals on Friday night.

Advertising Agency: Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, Australia
ECD: Ant Keogh
Art Director: Ant Phillips
Copywriter: Richard Williams
Managing Partner: Paul McMillan
Director: Steve Ayson
Managing Director: Andy Traines
Producer: Cindy Kavanagh
Head of Production: Renee Robson
Production Supervisor: Gus Kousoulas
Editing: The Butchery

Sports Bet CommBank parody TV ad

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It was bound to happen given the earnest nature of the initial Toni Collette effort.

A bit cheeky, but fun for a tactical moment.

The bank is now investigating whether the parody breaches its intellectual property rights. You would not want to get into a legal battle with these billionaire bankers.

Clearly Commbank spotted this parody very quickly, unlike it’s appalling and “unapproved” Backpack Bomb hoax ad that aired on-line for the Olympics.

The parody has now been removed courtesy of Commbank.

U by Kotex leakage freakage

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Kimberley Clark are going out of their way to push the problem.

It might be “leakage” or it could be the risk of attracting dogs by virtue of an unclean bum (ref Kleenex Cottonelle).

This latest effort is confronting women with what we are told is a common problem. The solution is U by Kotex.

In both cases the company tackles the problem with clear product solutions.

Both approaches and that of Carefree raise an interesting question. Do consumers respond better to direct, descriptive advertising and what level of directness is more effective? The word “vagina” has recently been a subject of many complaints regarding the advertising campaign for Carefree Actifresh.

It’s interesting to ask if this approach researches well with all women / consumers? The industry likes to trumpet from on high and say we MUST change the consumer – “better out than in!” and remove ourselves from these suppressed notions of discrete advertising…? A vocal minority applaud the use of language that can make mums and dads cringe into their sofa. “It’s a vaginal discharge so lets herald it from on high!”. I’m not so sure.

There is a subtle balance between being direct and being overtly confronting to women and families in their own living rooms. U, which is firmly youth targeted, gets it right. We aren’t shocked into awareness of the problem and efficacy of the solution, we don’t hear language that is too confronting and we are indirectly very aware of the problem without being told that it is a “vaginal discharge”…territory other brands would prefer to own.

At the end of the day it is about understanding the audience not just the user and when it is the mass medium of TV the family audience matters. This is why it is an interesting topic for discussion when used in mass market media (rather than more directly targeted communication).

Without being overly conservative I sincerely hope that brands don’t continue to reach for stand-out notoriety by the use of the lowest creative common denominators in overtly describing what many real people consider to be discrete categories.

The true creative challenge is to communicate the problem and benefit / solution without the reliance on the literal descriptions and language.

John Hegarty Bursts the Cannes Bubble – “Make the bloody work better”

I’ve glanced at the commentary coming from Cannes annual advertising shindig. A lot of local Australian reports have bemoaned the fact that local agencies haven’t swept the board with awards. In fact Australian agencies such as Clemengers seem to have done quite well?

It was therefore interesting to see John Hegarty who is founder and worldwide creative director of BBH, returning to the basics and telling the industry to pull it’s creative socks up in his speech at Cannes as reported in AdNews.

The great thing about John and his leadership of BBH is that he doesn’t change. His principles and practical approach to advertising remain basically the same, they just evolve with experience. I am biased having worked there, but it made a lasting impression as John was one of the best marketeers I ever met, as well as having countless creative credentials.

Despite the chagrin of many in advertising who are scratching their heads as to why awards and recognition aren’t flowing their way, John puts it simply:

“Make the bloody work better. We must be the only industry in the world that actually thinks you can succeed when the work’s getting worse. We don’t talk about this enough.

“Obviously Cannes is about this, but what are we doing about it, how are we changing the way we’re working to create better work.”

I think that this is outstanding for the fact that it is true, the fact that BBH have been at the forefront of creativity and that John has the guts to throw off the Emperors new clothes and look at the industry with fresh eyes as a respected veteran of the business.

Not to say that there isn’t great work out there. There just isn’t enough of it. There seems to be a lot of “lazy” advertising, dictated by the need to get the campaign on-air on-time. I’ve seen creativity rushed and ruined as a result of a notional deadline to get it on-air.

John went on to say that advertising needs to stimulate and solicit the right response in the consumer along the lines of:

“Wow, I want to have a conversation with these people’, as opposed to ‘I’m doing my best to ignore them and they’re doing their best to trip me up in some way or another’. Isn’t that awful, we’re an industry that tries to trick people into watching what we do, why isn’t it inspiring, so people want to watch it.”

The discussion about the effectiveness of introspective “teaser” campaigns (Commbank, Blackberry etc) falls into this bracket of trying to “trick” and entice people into guessing the campaign. This assumes that consumers can actually be bothered?

Advertisers being big (in spend terms…) with teasers and tricks, but not necessarily clever in terms of creatively attracting consumers, are then bemused as to why effectiveness awards allude them and their CMO’s are replaced every 18 months?

Consumers don’t like to be deceived or have to guess who or what is behind a campaign, even if advertisers think that this brings engagement. It is more likely to bring annoyance and antipathy towards the campaign and brand. Consumers are wise to it and the novelty has worn off.

Advertising is a tool to drive awareness, engagement and sales and should be judged on these parameters. Advertisers are at risk of talking to themselves and then wondering why no one is listening?

The truth is that advertisers are not making ads that are truly relevant, interesting and motivating and that reach a mass market quickly and efficiently with the message.

As John says the ads aren’t good enough. Many advertisers are seduced into making advertising for social engagement on-line and PR notoriety first. Whilst this is important in contributing to a campaign idea, it can’t replace the effectiveness of producing strategically sound mass market creative to impact consumers and change opinions into new behaviour (i.e. buying stuff).

What was the last TV ad (TV still reaches the most households), that made you say “I really want that” or “they look like a great company I want to hear more from” or “wow, that changes my opinion!”

Hopefully hearing this from John will provoke the industry into some positive thought and action.

His book lays it out pretty clearly and is boiled down to the basics of the two most important points to remember if you’re a creative:

• The truth is the most powerful strategy

• The power of irreverence

The truth of product propositions seems to be getting lost in the “art” of advertising. The same rules still apply. Great products and services with genuine unique selling points (product truths), creatively delivered to attract the attention of consumers – this is what still works and sells.

When it comes to handling a situation or tackling an idea, John couldn’t stress more the importance of these two aspects of truth and irreverence in his book. Ask yourself, what is it exactly you’re trying to do? You should always challenge the accepted norm. Of course, he highlighted the fact that when it comes to clients, you can’t always break prejudice, it’s all about how you make the limits they give you distinctive. A nice challenge to the traditional brief.

He follows up with the first of many interesting anecdotes, featuring one of the most influential creative minds in advertising, Bill Bernbach. After the Second World War, Germany’s economy was kaput and they were in desperate need of a boost. One of the key elements they had to offer was their cars and they needed to sell them badly. They decided to approach an American named Bill Bernbach to try to generate sales for the Volkwagen Beetle. Now here was a car which was completely unappealing and actually not all that good, but Bernbach saw an opportunity in advertising a key feature about it. It was small. In this world of everything getting bigger, and bigger meaning better, Bernbach identified that the beetle went against the grain, and instead of trying to hide from supposed disadvantage, he turned the spotlight onto it and came up with the now famous line: “Think small”…and as they say the rest is history.

I hope that John and his blunt appraisal drives clients and creatives to make history and produce the campaigns that the industry can be proud of and that the consumers deserve.