Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Smashing Work

Of course everyone has seen it by now, particularly if you live in London. It spread out like the usual virus across the advertising landscape, covering offices in the sound of 70's pop rock... and with good reason.

My favourite shot in the whole ad.
It won't surprise anyone to know that the latest John Lewis ad is excellent. A piece of wonderfully thought out and crafted creativity that just invites you to want to watch it every time it appears. Even the 90 second version holds the attention enough to warrant a view.

But as I said, that's not surprising. The thing that really interests me though, is the puzzle it raises about how we think about creativity across channels in 2015.

You see, in many respects, this work is incredibly dated. I don't mean the 70's soundtrack and styling... but the fact it's a big budget, long, TV ad. It's the kind of work that is regularly thought of as dying, and that we should move completely away from. Not only that, it's an ad which, at the heart of it, hides its idea. That sense of nervousness and uncertainty around insurance. It could potentially be too subtle to work across every kind of format without good creative guidance.

So is this a last hurrah for TV? Well, no.

As we see at Christmas (the British Superbowl), people are keen to see adverts they might enjoy. John Lewis are among the very best at having campaigns that people actually go out of their way to see (as someone who has worked on insurance brands, doing so against the barrage of price pushing takes a brave client). When you think about it, that's pretty amazing.

We live in a world of consistently always-on, encroaching advertising. Designed to intrude on you at all times it's possible. More than ever people are getting sick of advertising communications, just look at the rapid growth in online ad blocking tools - we may be honing the art of banner copy, but those click rates are still hiding down through the mud underneath the floor. We all know, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, that the reason for this is simple. Most ads are shit.

Elton back again. Still singing about Coke
So in this complex many channel world, how does a piece of work get so well known and liked that the audience actually WANT to watch it? That simple thing called creativity. Well thought out, well written, well directed work. You Tube, for many people, is now a TV channel in itself - and simply paying your way doesn't work there. You need great pieces of work, and sometimes not achieving it is actually the cause of your channel problems. If you have the quality, particularly consistent quality, it's possible to break the cycle of advertising apathy.

So yes it's great to have new ideas that take advantage of all channels. Yes it isn't enough to just have terrible TV ads anymore. But what this ad shows, is that we too often forget the third way. Doing excellent work can sometimes be the surprisingly simple answer to your channel question.


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