Monday, June 22, 2009

Annually Retentive

(Yes I know that's the title of Rob Brydon's mock panel show)

History is a dangerous thing in advertising. We often look back at our history and revel in the great work and the people who produced it. But we have to beware of letting nostalgia and hindsight affect our judgement of ads gone by.

The example that brought this to mind was the VW 'changes' ad from the 1980's.

It's so often referenced as being completely of the moment, of fitting the landscape perfectly. Treated as some kind of marker for the way society and advertising was at that point. But of course advertising was mostly full of identikit haircare/beauty ads, hard sell bollocks and local 'slideshow' ads.

Not only that, I have never heard anyone talk about how successful it was. How much product it sold or how it changed people's perceptions of VW. All I hear is a praise of the creative and director.

This of course is the danger of D&ad awards, Cannes, Clio's etc. That we let creativity become the only factor in which we judge past ads. Now of course I am not saying that creative is unimportant in ads, just that we cannot let it be the only factor we objectively use to judge past ads.

If we look back at 2000's in 20 years time, our ad history won't include Barry Scott and Cillit Bang, but he created a strong brand, got into popular culture and sold shitloads of cleaner.

Which is why I like public ad polls. You tend to find that ads which mixed creativite brilliance with an idea that really resonated or sold product get to the top. Smash martians, Honey Monster etc. A public poll would put Barry Scott and the Gorilla together, one creative brilliance, one creative annoyance, but on impact and results, both worthy of a place in ad history.


kelvin newman said...

You're right it's easy to get caught up in the craft or the art rather than the result. I suspose that's because it's so difficult to judge those had that impact.

We can all appreciate 'quality' but only a few have access to the measures of success

Cheshire Cat said...

That's funny, I was thinking about Cillit Bang only this week, as you do... how DID they do that?
No one would have called them 'good ads' but they sure as hell worked!
Are there any advertising effectiveness awards? There should be.

domconlon said...

I like the thrust of your argument Rob but I would take issue with public polls. How do they point to effectiveness any more than the D&AD awards?

I really wouldn't want to see the Gorilla ad anywhere though :)

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Kelvin: It is, though this is advertising; so making it work (whether that be brand awareness/sales/etc) is surely part of the craft.

Cheshire: It was kitch at its best. There are indeed, the Effies, they award 'ideas that work'.

Dom: Well, they wouldn't be remembered if they hadn't had an impact. There are plenty of ads that we in adland like that people take no interest in.