OPINION: Mills on ... Royal and Sun Alliance/More Th>n

By DOMINIC MILLS, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 06 July 2001 12:00PM

Most, if not all, of us would subscribe to the idea that the best

advertising is advertising that tells the truth. By truth I don't mean

the literal truth in the legalistic sense, but truth in the fundamental

sense insofar as it relates to the product. Got that? OK, keep that

thought in your mind.



Have you seen Lucky? He's a mangy-looking terrier and he's gone

missing.



Fortunately for him, his owners care a great deal, enough to hire Ogilvy

& Mather and to spend several million pounds buying airtime and poster

space across the country on which to put up their "missing" notices.

Better still, they've even set up a freephone number and a website,

whereslucky.com.



That seems like a lot of trouble to go for a missing dog. And he's not

even a pedigree.



Allright, time to come clean. Lucky is, in fact, a teaser campaign for a

new direct insurance brand launched by the Royal & Sun Alliance. The

brand is called More Th>n, which I thought was the kind of wank name

that went out of fashion in the 80s, not to mention being a complete

pain in the arse to type. Still, at least it isn't named after a fruit

or a kind of food.



But this isn't about my personal prejudices ... well, not all of them

anyway.



Perhaps it's just me, but this is the kind of campaign that gives

advertising a bad name. Lucky is a device that is clearly meant to draw

in the target users. Since More Th>n is a direct, virtual insurance

brand, its target users are the technologically and financially literate

- generally under 35.



The only way to find out what Lucky is about is to phone the number or

go to the website, which means we're talking about ... pause for breath

... an "integrated" campaign. However, the phone number, astonishingly,

only advises you to phone Battersea Dogs Home if you find a genuine

stray.



The website isn't much better. "Well done for tracking down my homepage,

or kennelpage," it says in a way that is both patronising and thoroughly

naff. "It's full of fun, mischief and the occasional surprise - rather

like me," it continues. Oh dear. This is poor stuff indeed. If visitors

haven't left by now, they may eventually find an introduction to More

Th>n. Frankly, I would be astonished if anyone goes that far.



I say that because, while advertising has many hoary old creative

cliches, one of the hoariest is the "missing pet" one. Why just a few

months ago Dom Joly used the very same idea - rather better executed -

for his Trigger Happy TV series. The very wonderful VW Passat campaign

uses a lost dog poster to demonstrate the roominess of its estate. Will

people be so intrigued by the novelty, they'll take the bait? I don't

think so.



But let's say they do eventually make it to the More Th>n page. Will

they not feel annoyed or, worse still, conned, when they discover that

far from being a plea for a missing pet, this is actually a means to

sell us insurance products? As Andrew Cracknell says in this week's

Private View on page 28, it's all a question of context - and context is

what's missing here.



Which brings me to that initial thought about truth in advertising. Why

have O&M and Royal & Sun Alliance gone this huge circuitous route to

launch an insurance brand? I'd say they've talked themselves into

believing that the product is so intrinsically boring that they must

pretend it's something else.



So why not acknowledge the advertising truth for insurance? Funnily

enough, Eagle Star did just that a few years ago in a very entertaining

and arresting campaign. It struck a chord because it underlined a

fundamental truth, which is that insurance is a boring product. And the

name of the agency? O&M of course.



Dead cert for a Pencil? I'd say the chances are less than zero.



Will it work? Put it this way - have you gone to whereslucky.com?



What would the chairman's wife say? So Lucky is supposed to be a brand

icon. It's not as good as that red phone, is it?



This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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