Monday, May 30, 2011

Cut Price Thrills

I love it when brands do things you don't expect. When they do silly or amusing things that show genuine warmth or humour.

The new Aldi ad features one of those rare things, a piece of copy so good as to change the way I feel about an entire brand that I already know a lot about.

I don't want to oversell it, but this ad made everyone in the room erupt in belly laughs the first time they saw it. The previous ad in the series was ok, and now I have no idea how they can top this one.

No going for bland 'let's not offend anyone' half-humour here. No Tesco family observation, no Morrisons cute quip, no Sainsbury's Jamie joking. The writers went for a genuine gag in a price/product ad and hit it right on the head. A price/product ad!! This is the equivalent of putting real humour into a DFS script.

I have to give a lot of respect to the client here, I can imagine a lot of clients looking at a script like this and asking the agency to tone make it safer. (Warning - Amusing but bad sounding reference coming up) This isn't Hitler raping Ghandi's corpse but it's still risky enough to make you chuckle.

So not only have I smiled and felt better about a brand, I've remembered an ad that focuses on product and price. For a brand like Aldi surely there can be nothing better. I for one love it, and wish more brands would take these risks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Three Guys Walk Into a Bar

Three guys with a perfectly acceptable race-balance and blend of machismo with friendliness walk into a bar...

Three guys working hard feel a little bit thirsty...

Three guys chilling out feel like a beer...

Some negative comments about the new Heineken ad made me think about the whole genre of beer advertising, and in particular just how outdated some of the 'three men and a little lager' ads feel. Though thankfully there aren't too many of them left.

Carlsberg has kept things interesting by having a great tagline, but they recently confused the hell out of it by introducing a second tagline that doesn't seem to fit.

Strongbow's latest ads however, raise a smile but they couldn't feel more like they are trying to be identifiable if the voiceover screamed "Look hard working cockney geezer, this 'ere hard working chap is just like you, maybe you should drink Strongbow too". Were it not a pastiche idea the shot where they look over at the pub would have made me cringe.

There have been so many 'three guys in a pub' ads. Some are funny, or silly, but most just feel like the same template. The beer ads we remember now are the ones that are more expansive, those with wider ideas and themes.

Although maybe, just maybe the criticism of the over-elaborate styling and content of these new beer ads opens up an opportunity for some good ads in the old way. After all, John Webster made the 'three guys in a pub' extremely interesting back in the seventies and early eighties. If we do it though, let's at least do it well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Great Planning Words

From Northern's latest post:

So don't stick doggedly to the words on your creative brief when someone suggests something better, or work off brief isn't just great, it's a better strategy. Don't dig you heals in if someone who doesn't have 'planner' in their job title, or from another agency or, a client, has a suggestion that's better than yours.

The job of the planner isn't to DO all the best thinking, it's to make sure the best thinking emerges. A crucial difference that is lost on too many. So leave your ego at home and remember that changing your mind isn't a sign of weakness, it's a source of strength.

Viral Research

I've noticed in the last week, two ads that have spent months online in the US have crept onto our TV screens. The VW Force and particularly the Skittles Touch ad have been in heavy rotation on UK tv.

At first I wondered why Skittles would air a US ad that is a couple of years old, and then I thought about it a bit more. The popularity of the ad online has acted like post-production research, gathering feedback and word of mouth spread.

Instead of risking budget on a new ad campaign, why not take something we know people in the UK like; but has never been shown on their TV screens?

Maybe this is the next level of using online video as campaign research; producing an ad, placing it online then using the success or failure to determine whether it is suitable for paid media spend. In theory this would allow brands to take more risks and produce more interesting work; because if it bombs it will never have any money other than production put behind it.

You might ask how this is different to now, and the answer is simple. Most agencies currently either:

Make a TV ad - run it on TV and place it online.


Make an online video - spread it online

What I am talking about is making TV ads, but taking them online first; surely a much more reliable test than showing it to 8 people in a room?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

To Save You The Hassle

Here is The complete guide to 'The Apprentice 2011', saving you the bother of watching it yourself.

The Key Contestants:

1. Jack Cocksure - An over confident dipshit who speaks in nothing but managing consultancy speak. Likely to say such phrases as: "There's no place for weakness in business."

2. Samantha Bitchslap - A spiteful talentless bitch who thinks she can be in Alan Sugar's job within 6 months despite having no leadership or people skills whatsoever. Most likely to say "That's not my fault."

3. Ian Wankington - An arrogant arse-wipe of a sub-species of human being with all the vision of a mole with sunglasses on digging a particularly deep hole. Slept his way to the lower-middle. Most likely to say "The difference between us is that I get things done."

4. Helena Myopic - An obsessive worker who suffers from total tunnel vision. Unable to see the bigger picture in anything, she stumbles from one crisis to the next. Most likely to say "But I sold more than her!"

5. Mark 'Marky' Markson-Martins - Posh snob who thinks that running daddy's company without burning down the building makes him the next Richard Branson. Has total contempt for anyone not earning over £100k a year, and near-total contempt for anyone earning under £500k a year... despite the fact he earns £50k at daddy's business. Most likely to say "Hi daddy, do you know Alan?"

6. Wai Dontue Shatup - A private school grad who talks, and talks, and talks, and talks. Appears to only be able to listen if the other person is talking about her, or offering her something. No business acumen whatsoever, but happy to flirt with anyone powerful. Most likely to say "Hi Ian, I like your tshirt."

7. Michael Norton - Smart guy, works hard but diligently. Makes good decisions and gets on well with everyone. Most likely to say "Well done guys."

The Teams

Blue Sky Doing - This team will argue about everything, fail to make any key decisions and flail their way violently through the weeks.

Team Touch Base - This team will be totally useless apart from the efforts of Michael to organise and single handedly run everything.

The Results

Week 1 - Blue Sky Doing cause a small part of South London to explode while baking cupcakes. Suralan fires Harrington Smyth III of Touch Base for parking in his space in the car park.

Week 2 - Blue Sky Doing forget to do the task after Wai and Ian start flirting during breakfast. Suralan fires Harrington Smyth III of Touch Base for failing to remove his car from his space.

Week 3 - Blue Sky Doing inadvertently cause the Large Hadron Collider to create a small black hole after trying to sell baby clothes to the women at CERN. Suralan doesn't fire anyone after Henry 'Jesus' Poncington disappears to the other side of the universe.

Week 4 - Blue Sky Doing cause a plague of locusts to hit Scotland after trying to setup a stall selling Haggis. Suralan fires Dick Dickson of Touch Base for having not bought an Amstrad Computer back in 1992.

Week 5 - Blue Sky Doing accidentally cause Elvis to come back from the dead whilst trying to sell shovels. Suralan fires Sally Critch of Touch Base after she put too much sugar in Karen Brady's tea.

Week 6 - Touch Base win a £10m contract with Google after Michael's hard work and vision. Suralan fires Michael for being the kind of bloke no one ever notices.

Week 7 - Blue Sky Doing manage to move Harrington Smyth II's car, and win this week's challenge. Suralan decides to fire Mark, but later on changes his mind after a mysterious phone call, and fires Helena once he manages to get a word in edgeways.

Week 8 - Blue Sky Doing are murdered violently after several members of the advertising community see their attempt at selling their new line of vodka.

Week 9 - Everyone stops caring which of these irritating bastards will get their TV job. Suralan fires all of them except Jack Cocksure who wins by default because of his "confident attitude in the sales process".

The Moral

If everyone in business was like the stupid motherfuckers on this TV show then there would be no need for marketing or advertising because nothing good would ever get made again. I'll probably still watch it though...