Friday, March 21, 2014

Beautiful Advertising

It's not often you can say the above, but for this ad - saying goodbye to the legendary VW Hippie Van - it's definitely true. The image, the sweet copy, and the use of the classic Bernbach VW ad layout; it all shows real craft and care.


Image and ad from: AdsoftheWorld.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Advertising I just don't understand...

I see a fair few ads on Australian TV that make me cringe. Not to say that it is different to any other country in the variance of quality... but I have to wonder how there are people working in marketing who haven't figured out that these are terrible ways to sell their brand and product.

If you were challenging Telstra, whose approach to selling TV bundles includes a simple but brilliant mechanic of putting a big screen in their store window and allowing passers by to switch channels - you might try and think of something smart or an idea that connects with people.

Today however I heard this...

"Hello shop assistant"

"Hello potential customer"

"I am interested in a broadband and tv bundle deal, and would like to have more information thrown at me in two minutes than I could possibly take in with a team of shorthand assistants please."

"That's convenient, as our marketing manager has decided that we need to fit every single product feature and benefit in our complex package into a single two minute promo."

"All of them? That's wonderful. I always find having 300 stats flung at me randomly is much more helpful in making my purchase decisions than two or three useful ones."

"Brilliant. You are my favourite customer!"

"So why are you being weirdly friendly to me?"

"Well we read some information about how an emotional connection helps customers bond with your message."

"That's very true."

"But we have no space for an emotional message what with the four hundred pages of copy, so instead we're going to make all of my actions seem cheesy and false in the hope that will suffice."

"It truly does, may I ask who whitened your teeth? They look lovely."

"You may. Would you like me to tell you all their price points and features too?"

"Would I ever!"


On the subject of bad ads. Some people should really consider how the details make a huge difference. Take the 200 different brands of healthy vitamin/krill oil/chewy vitamin/etc/etc currently advertising, they all try to mimic a cheesy infomercial style, but they look so false. On a topic as important as your health and that of your kids, surely you'd want to come across with as much authenticity as possible.

Further to the importance of details. If you are filming ads, at least try to pay attention to how people actually hold your products. Because if your ad features a product being held like this:
STW acquires 60% of Brand Power owner

Or like this:

Screen shot 2012-03-19 at 11.51.30 AM.jpg

Or like this:

It probably looks shit.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

In the name of progress

It's always nice to see a campaign find its way. This week Jeep appeared to finally find the right spot for their Don't Hold Back campaign.

Sure it's not revolutionary, but there's something nice and simple about the idea that buying a Jeep is a sign of being adventurous and energetic in a world of Utes and status 4x4's, yet for me the ads have never quite felt right.

However this week I saw the latest version, and it really starts to move the campaign in the right direction. Where the first few ads felt a bit blunt and forced, the latest takes it to a far nicer place. More subtle, but more relevant and engaging at the same time.

The simple change of representing the adventure of Jeep through an external object rather than a person directly expressing it makes so much difference.

For a campaign that has been labelled annoying by many people, it's a nice change to see it improve and start to live up to the potential of the idea behind it.

Advertising as a reflection of society

I read a great post by Richard Huntingdon the other week, which discussed how advertising should be more representitive of society, and how we can help break down barriers.

In the last two weeks, two huge brands have taken small but important steps along that road - and whilst we should always be mindful of what our target audience's preferences are, sometimes, reality is too important not to show.

Coca Cola and Chevrolet have done a great job of taking the realities of life in America, and bringing them into their advertising. Both are excellent examples of how the vocal conservative minorities should never stop what we do from reflecting the world around us.

In fact, in both cases, the inclusion of gay couples is so natural and subtle, that it's hard to understand how anyone could object. We know better of course, some people are just that reactionary. But those few seconds are very important to both advertising and the world around us. These are big brands, HUGE brands, who have produced campaigns that truly reflect their audience.

This is not some minority focused campaign, these are superbowl and olympic ads. No escaping or hiding from reality here. I think it's magnificent to see brands take this step, where many would have backed away. I trust and hope that for every idiot who can't see through their own xenophobia or homophobia, there will be a decent minded person or two to replace and increase their sales.

With that in mind, I'm sipping a coke as I type this. Well done Coca Cola and well done Chevrolet.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Australian Ads Part 1

As with every country, advertising is generally divided into great and terrible. Australia is no exception. For every Dumb Ways to Die there is a guy shouting about barbecues whilst giving a thumbs up.

Whilst there isn't quite the number of brands perpared to make great creative work as back in the UK, from what I've seen, the standard is definitely improving.

Here's a couple of good examples.

Carlton Draught. Not my favourite beer, but it's definitely better than the cheap stuff in the UK.
This police chase ad from last year is everything you expect from a brand whose creative work travels far wider than the product.

A silly chase that parodies the movies, and avoids taking itself seriously in any way. It's fun and entertaining, taking the semi-mandatory 'several guys in a pub' setup and taking it to somewhere likeable.

It doesn't hurt that Carlton Draught has one of the best taglines of any brand in the world either.

Australia Post. Sometimes an idea is just so simply brilliant that you don't need to create an elaborate ad concept, you just need to show people. It's also another blow for people who keep going on about how QR codes and the like are useless, without realising it was the way people used them that was the problem, not the medium itself. Any postal service that doesn't consider creating this functional

Happy Australia Day!

Yes yes, I know techincally it was yesterday. but I was too busy joining in to post then!
Australia Day is a tricky thing to get right. On the one hand, there are a lot of terrible things that have happened to the indiginous communities that were here first. I heard several people (all white I should add) wish everyone a Happy Invasion Day.
My perspective is that whilst we should never forget the bad things that have happened in the past, there is little to be gained by holding onto anger of the past. Let's use Australia Day as a time to celebrate the survival of the Aboriginal people, and the fact that things (whilst by no means perfect) are gradually improving.
The other thing for me, is that having spent six months in the upside down part of the world, I have very little to conclude that doesn't talk about how brilliant it is.
Melbourne is an amazing city. A melting pot of people from all sorts of backgrounds, friendly and social, with enough art and creativity to fill a city of double the size and population.
So whilst I spent a good few moments yesterday thinking about those who suffered over the years in the building of this country. The place it has developed into is definitely one worth celebrating.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It's Been a While!

Hello folks.

It's been quite a long time!

As you may or may not know, I have been living in the upside-down part of the world for several months now. I have been enjoying the warmer weather, well, I say warmer weather, apparently this was one of the coldest Springs for many years. Still warmer than Blighty though...

In the flurry of moving and starting a new job this site has been getting dusty. But worry thee not... The Ad Pit shall return soon!

Monday, July 01, 2013

Recording Wimbledon on the BBC - A Guide

So. You want to watch the Andy Murray game at Wimbledon, but you are away from the TV for the first half hour... How do you record it so you can catch up later?

Here is a step by step guide.

1. Choose the match you wish to see. In this case Andy Murray

2. Find out whether the game will be on BBC One, BBC Two, or the red button channels

3. Find the appropriate Wimbledon channel (BBC One) and press record

4. Use your psychic ability to predict the exact moment the match will move from BBC One to BBC Two

5. Enjoy the highlights of the doubles match now on BBC One

6. Record BBC Two to catch what's left of the Murray game

7. Use your psychic ability to predict when the game will move back to BBC One

8. Enjoy the rest of the doubles match on BBC Two

9. Switch back to BBC One to find the game has ended and the score is on screen

Honestly, it's so simple. Keep the important games on ONE BLOODY CHANNEL.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sony Understand the Importance of Listening

I've said before that it is so very important to listen to customers. Not that brands should do everything they say, but they should understand their behaviour, their concerns, and their desires.

In addition, clarity is one of the most important parts of communication. A good message said clearly is better than a great message said unclearly.

Last night at E3 (Gaming expo) Sony demonstrated perfectly the art of listening to your customers, and responding with brilliant clarity.

The internet has been full of discussion over the horrible security and sharing restrictions on the forthcoming Xbox One console. (You would no longer own your games - but licence them, publishers can ban you trading in or buying second hand games, sharing games with friends would be awkward and restricted, Microsoft would be able to turn your games off at their discretion, you HAVE to go online every 24 hours to authorise games, etc).

Microsoft have been unclear and evasive, leading people to presume the worst - they cancelled their E3 PR conference and made no mention of the issue in their presentation. There are currently many gamers who will point blank refuse to buy Microsoft's console.

Sony had yet to announce their strategy for this area. People from all over the world have been asking Microsoft and Sony to keep things as they have been, and that change will actually damage the industry as well destroying the rights of customers.

A huge number were watching the E3 presentations last night to see how Sony would respond.

What they produced was a masterclass in clarity. No gamer could be left in any doubt whose side Sony are on, nor have any confusion over their rights on the Playstation 4. Just listen to the reaction of the crowd (Who at one point were chanting "Sony! Sony! Sony!") and hear the pre-orders and good publicity bursting out from the seams. Literally tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people made their mind up what machine to buy at that precise moment.

The battle between the next generation of consoles is a multi billion pound war. Huge research and development costs, huge game development costs, huge marketing costs. Sony has taken a gigantic step toward winning it with two minutes and twenty seconds of clarity, driven by a little bit of listening.

If you take a look at the below diagram, it explains the confusion people have over what the policies of Xbox One mean for them playing and sharing games with friends, and how Sony have responded. (Original source of image unknown)

In addition, Sony produced this wonderful video which shows just how much simpler things are with the Playstation 4. (It's even better when you realise that the two people are Shu Yoshida, the head of Sony Entertainment Studios, and Adam Boyes, VP of Third Party Relations for Playstation) In the history of gaming, there have been few moments to rival what happened last night, when putting customers above all else paid off massively for Sony.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

General Mills Live in the Real World

There has been a sad reminder this week that many people are still nowhere near as civilised as we might expect in 2013.

You may have seen the latest Cheerios ad from the US. It features a little girl asking her mum about the product. It's a little bit cheesy, but the ending is quite sweet.

It has however, managed to cause a huge amount of controversy on You Tube and other places for one simple reason, the mum is white and the dad is black.


Now I know what you are thinking, You Tube comments are usually the lowest form of social commentary in the entire world. But the fallout from the argument has moved on into Reddit and other sites too. The replies being made were so bad that the company had to disable them from the ad.

There is no argument to be had. People of different ethnic backgrounds fall in love and marry, just as those of the same ethnic background do. I can't imagine that anyone at the agency nor General Mills even gave a second thought that the ethnic make up of the family might be an issue, and it would be incredibly sad if they had to.

I'm glad that General Mills live in the modern world. I really hope they stand by their campaign, and don't feel pressurised to have an all black or all white couple in the next ad. I know no company wants to lose sales, but I guarantee they would lose more sales by appeasing scummy racists than by reflecting the multi-cultural, open world most of us recognise.

Edit: Apparently General Mills have said they will refuse to withdraw the ad. Adding: "There are many kinds of families, and Cheerios just wants to celebrate them all.” Good work.