Agency: JWT, New York
By Leon Jaume, Executive creative director, Engine and WCRS, marketingmagazine.co.uk, Wednesday, 28 September 2011 12:00AM
You might see the Birds Eye polar bear ad at the top of the Adwatch table and shrug. Him again, big deal. Everyone likes a cute character; what's new? This hammy, crowd-pleasing, Meerkat-lite malarkey adds little to the marketing debate.
This casual dismissal would be a mistake. Instead, we should all gather round, pause, observe and learn. The Birds Eye bear is a wonderful fable for the job that we are all supposed to be doing.
Above all, he could hardly be more misconceived. He shouldn't be a crappy white sock with a hand up it; he should be a cuddly, fuzzy, perfect polar cub, like the Attenborough ones, but with CG lip-synch. He shouldn't be sinisterly voiced by a US actor we can't quite place, but who doubtless still cost a fortune; he should probably be Felicity Kendall. Moreover, he absolutely shouldn't freak out his loyal, Birds Eye-buying mums and dads with sarcasm, threats and belittlement; he should be supportive of their tentative ways with dead, white fish.
Of course, all the right choices were ignored and here he is: an Adwatch-topping triumph, selling his own likeness alongside fish fingers. Probably with a bigger margin.
What do so many of us do on a daily basis? Strive for the bland, the familiar, the cosy, the known. We cast nice-looking people in nice-looking houses, with nary a hair out of place or a scuff on the skirting board. Yet our 'national treasure' archive is full of scruffy, ugly, awkward, borderline psychotic sods like Del Boy, Fawlty, Steptoe and Gervais.
These are the people the nation remembers and takes to its hearts, yet advertising is frequently discomforted in their company. When we spilled the 118 runners into the world, the rational voices asked: should not a modern, dynamic brand be represented by properly fit and clean-shaven athletes with a decent haircut?
Many years on, as another agency relaunches them back in their original, hirsute image, the questioning is less shrill.
The moral is clear. Whatever your job, your brand, your company, your agency, your title, your talent, it matters not. We are all in the same business, and it is called risk.
If you don't see that appellation as an exciting opportunity that drives your working day, allows you to outdo your competitors - often with less money - and demands that you laugh in the face of failure, accepting that it will occasionally laugh back, then you shouldn't be in marketing.
You should run a website selling cute, furry polar bears that bleat soothing platitudes when you give them a gentle squeeze. I won't be buying.
|Adwatch (September 28): Top 20 recall|
|1||(–)||Birds Eye||Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/Carat||40|
|2||(15=)||Tesco||The Red Brick Road/Initiative||38|
|5||(–)||Garnier – Belle Color||Publicis/ZenithOptimedia||30|
|6=||(–)||Currys/PC World||M&C Saatchi/Walker Media||29|
|8||(–)||Argos||CHI & Partners/Mindshare||28|
|9||(–)||Kodak||Ogilvy & Mather/Neo@Ogilvy||26|
|10||(–)||Comet||Euro RSCG London/ZenithOptimedia||25|
|11=||(–)||Lenor Infusions||Grey EMEA/Starcom||24|
|11=||(–)||Toyota Yaris||Saatchi & Saatchi/ZenithOptimedia||24|
|13||(–)||Sainsbury's||Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/PHD||23|
|14||(–)||William Hill||Beattie McGuinness Bungay/the7stars||15|
|15=||(–)||Mecca Bingo||Gravity London/Boutique Media Communications||14|
|15=||(–)||British Red Cross||Brightstar/MediaCom||14|
|19=||(–)||Bensons for Beds||Wand Agency/Rathbone Perception Media||12|
|19=||(–)||Halfords||DLKW Lowe/Walker Media||12|
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk