Friday, August 31, 2012

Excitement from Toyota

"Honestly, this goes down as the best Toyota I've ever driven"
Top Gear Magazine
I think it's nice when you see campaigns that really get to the heart of the product they are selling, and pull out the truth, making it impossible to miss.

The new ad for the Toyota GT86 (by Saatchi and Saatchi I believe) does exactly that.

In a world where cars try to do everything for you, the GT86 is an artificial assistance free car. A massive buzz of excitement and experience for a price that makes it one of the best value cars in the world if measured in fun.

The ad takes the idea of a back to basics car that is directly and joyously connected to the road rather than through a control centre full of electronics; and brings it to life in a way that is hard to miss.

I'd done a lot of research on the GT86 for a friend, so I knew a lot about it. When I heard the line "Can you feel the thrill of being alive, no neither can I" came on, I thought straight away that this has to be for the GT86, it fits it perfectly.  A car that is designed to push the limits and give you maximmum fun even at the expense of grip.

Sure, it's a little po faced, but it's bold, brave, and most importantly, it doesn't feel like it could truthfully be for any other affordable car.

I mean, look at it. For £25k...! I want one, and I don't even drive.
(Pic from Toyota)
Showing the car almost entirely in CG only is a bold step too, and appears well thought out, allowing the ad to show exciting driving without breaking any regulations. For a car this interesting and exciting, doing the usual boring car ad cliches would have been doing it no justice whatsoever.

If there is any justice, this car should become the new XR3i, the new M3, the new RX8, a truely rewarding piece of engineering that brings all the fun of overpriced sports cars to the general public at a fraction of the price. The idea of reintroducing the thrill of driving for real, of remembering the joy of a real connection to the road, to a public fed on assists and technology, seems like a perfect cry to start that trend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Don't Be Different

I find the latest ad for Tesco Mobile a little weird.
It is essentially saying, don't be an individual, be like everyone else and follow the herd.

Now I appreciate not everyone wants to stand out a mile, but do people really want to be exactly like everybody else? I find it hard to believe that anyone likes to think of themselves as being just like those around them. Surely everyone, (no matter how dull or mass market in their actual choices) likes to believe that they make their own decisions and have elements of their personality and lifestyle choices that make them the individual person they are

I get that they are trying to say that sometimes lots of people choose something because it is the best, and that following the herd isn't always a bad thing. But I find it hard to believe that people actually want to feel like part of a herd. At the very least they could have exaggerated the 'individuals' and tweaked the wording slightly to make it sound less like a push to lose your individuality, and more like a push to join those in the know.
"You are all individuals."
"We are all individuals!" - "I'm not."

They've usually tried to mock the big imagery of the other mobile networks and contrast it with being down to earth; but this feels like a bit of a mis-step. Perhaps presuming not quite enough variety and personality in their audience.

The only real question for me is what age group they are targeting. Maybe an older audience with less knowledge of mobiles would feel more confortable with this message, but otherwise I just can't see people under the age of 35 feeling connected to the brand at all from it. I watched it and instantly felt put off from the brand.

Given Tesco's behemoth like position in the UK supermarket world, the image of them as the place where everybody goes, but not everyone is quite sure why (not the cheapest, not the best products*, not the best range**, but ubiquitous presence), I would have thought voicing out loud a blanket herd mentality position would be a no no.

Edit: The online is much better at avoiding the 'same as everyone else' idea. On another viewing I think it's just the middle bit that seems like it is too 'herdy', but it was enough to put me off still, even though the overall idea of grouping together is a good one.

* Personal opinion
** Personal experience outside of the biggest few stores

Monday, August 20, 2012

Why Planners Should Love Creativity

Creativity and strategy is like a game of chess,
only with less horses and more pawns
Now and again you speak to a creative who has the impression that planners aren't that fussed about the creative output of an agency. That disappoints me, because everyone involved should care about the creativity and quality of the work their agency produces. To me it is absolutely fundamental that planners both understand and fight for creativity in the work they do.

Look at the link between creativity and effectiveness.

Look (in the UK at least) at the ads that the public truly get involved with and remember, they are entertaining and creative. The ones that stick in your head. It's been said so many times that advertising is far more long term than we ever try and track, and the influence of a great piece of work far far outlives the campaign.
Think about the Smash Martians that over 30 years later are still influencing people to buy Smash and have created a gigantically long term positive association. If we want to change behaviour then what way is more exciting that to create lifelong positive shifts towards our brands.

Consider those brands that have made, or reclaimed their fortune based upon great creative advertising: Stella Artois (a tiny brand until the Reassuringly Expensive campaign), Levis (a brand stuck with dated perceptions at the time - turned around several times by great work from BBH. I know personally that there are many brands that I have bought purely because of a piece of great work. (Sprite - Obey Your Thirst, Tango - You Know When You've Been Tango'd, Kia Ora - We all adora Kia Ora, etc). Hell, the advertising for Sony Minidisc not only made me buy a Sony MD player, the track on the ad was the very first thing I copied over to it.

Let's keep reading creative books as well as planning,
strategy and behavioural books.
(I just wanted an excuse to post this photo,
it took ages to set up)
More importantly, people like entertaining, engaging and creative advertising. No one wants to watch 4 minutes of being shouted at. No one wants to see ads that are painful to experience. (I once sat in a focus group where they referred to an existing ad as noisy, crowded and 'stressful' to watch. How can you expect to change behaviour if the creative idea and execution tunes people out? No one wants to see 50 ads all made exactly the same talking about the same thing for indistinguishable products.

A key part of planning is understanding the people who buy the products we sell, and finding a better, more effective way to talk to them. If you don't understand what types of advertising people like, how can you expect to produce ads that they will engage with and respond to? At the very least we should be finding exciting new ideas to spark off the imagination of the creatives. Taking the right thing to say, the right audience to say it to, and then giving the creatives a platform to create amazing work.

Maybe it didn't happen this way, but John Lewis's Always a Woman Ad perfectly nailed their target customer and brand reputation in a way that you'd hope a planner crafted into the right brief. Tango's 90's work created a brand that was bold, brave and noisy, giving the creatives a perfect opportunity to create some amazing work; the sort of brand thinking that you'd hope was down to good planning.

Every good planner I know cares about the creativity of the work. Maybe we need to put more effort into talking with the creative folk and creating some mututal understanding. Of course as planners we have other things to consider, but just because we write slides and draw graphs doesn't mean we don't love great work, and we should always be clear on that.

I believe that if we don't help inspire and fight for creativity, we really aren't doing our jobs right.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Improving the Unimprovable

It's so nice when brands don't take themselves or their communications too seriously. So many brands take a position of being uptight and faceless, often those that try and produce humorous ads, still do so from a brand position of being humour free. You laugh at the execution, not the brand.

Well sometimes laughing at your brand is the best way to make me buy it.

Take the new work for Stride Gum and their Shaun White inspired Mintacular flavour gum. It doesn't take itself seriously, it mocks apple, mocks other ads and online videos, and deliberately mocks the ad industry's often sad habit of feigning importance onto completely insignificant products.

The moment when I saw the caption, "Jamie Gill-Sans - Senior Vice Executive Vice President, Glasses and Facial Hair" was the moment I knew this had to be shared.

I hope more brands realise that being funny as a brand is different to having a funny execution. Another great example below from Carlton Draught, owners of one the best straplines I have ever seen, even includes the line "It's a big ad, expensive ad, this ad better sell some bloody beer." That is a mile away from having a three blokes in a pub gag.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

What Can Adland Learn From Danny Boyle

I think we can all agree that whatever you think of the Olympics, Locog and the IOC; the one person who absolutely cannot be faulted is Danny Boyle. He took an event that many people were expecting to be an embarrassment and turned into something incredible.

There are some great lessons we can, and should all learn from what Danny Boyle did this weekend with the London 2012 opening ceremony.

Have a Clear Vision

Beijing 2008 has an incredible opening ceremony. It had money chucked at it, and would have been frankly impossible to beat at what it did. So instead of try to outshout Beijing, Boyle made something that was truly British, beautiful, varied, influenced by the whole world, proud of real people not artificial bombast.

Have Brave Ideas

"So Danny, you want to film the Queen talking to James Bond, and then imply that she parachuted out of a helicopter in order to open the Games?"

"Yes. Oh and also I'd like Mr Bean to be playing in the London Symphony Orchestra whilst parodying one of our greatest sporting moments ever."

Have a Brave Client

How many people who control this kind of event would have seen those two ideas and said "Go for it." ? Most would have completely denied them point blank. Whoever allowed Danny Boyle to approach the Queen and even put these ideas forward to her deserves a damn gold medal, because frankly it was genius, very British genius.

Understand the Task

The task was not, as many people seemed to think to show a touristy vision of Britain. It was to show the world a spectacle, to fill three hours worth of time with something that they would never forget, something that truly represents this country. It would have been so easy to show a Daily Mail esque vision of middle class Britain, but he took the risks and made it truly reflective of our culture and our people. Real people.

To have the Queen in what was essentially a comedy sketch, and then play the Sex Pistols while she is watching. To show Gregory's Girl and Trainspotting clips, play Underworld, Muse, Dizzee Rascal and the Arctic Monkeys. He took the essence of real Britain, as much as that is possible, and put it on show in an amazing way.

Understand the Audience

An international audience, in hundreds of countries, many of which we have never really heard of. How do you bring them together? By avoiding the cliches and showing off the things that Britain has truly sent round the world: Mr Bean, James Bond, the Queen. I once spent a fair bit of time with a relative that spoke no English whatsoever, but when Mr Bean was on everybody joined in and was part of the laughter. Mr Bean is truly universal. Recognising that is a great bit of insight.

Understand the Moment

1 billion people watching, and you send out a 30 minute piece about the NHS just as we have a government trying to destroy it? To show how much we believe in our freedoms and rights by bringing out Sir Tim Berners Lee. Remarkable. The whole world has just seen how much we value those institutions, great work Danny.