BACKBITE

In a recent radio interview, J. Walter Thompson’s Nigel Sheldon attempted to elevate the thinking behind a new TV ad for Kellogg’s Frosties. It was a brilliant example of one of the worst things advertising can do - fall prey to aggrandisement.

In a recent radio interview, J. Walter Thompson’s Nigel Sheldon

attempted to elevate the thinking behind a new TV ad for Kellogg’s

Frosties. It was a brilliant example of one of the worst things

advertising can do - fall prey to aggrandisement.



(The ad permits cabled households to ‘control’ the storyline in Tony the

Tiger’s Frosties interactive ad through their TV remote control.)



Ill-disposed from the outset towards advertising’s shifty wiles, the

interviewer launched in: ‘Why is it an advantage for people to change

the course of the ad, is it just that they get hooked on the product?’



Nigel started well. He burbled about digital TV, Murdoch’s 200 channel

universe, the Internet - predictable stuff that doesn’t need reprinting

here.



‘But how do you interact with an ad,’ persisted the interviewer, ‘and

why should you want to?’ ‘It’s more like a game in a way,’ Nigel

offered, unabated, ‘as you can imagine, a Frosties ad would be directed

at kids, and we’ve done lots of research into how kids...’



‘So it’s designed to hook them,’ interjected the interviewer. ‘No, it

makes the ad more engaging, it involves the kids.’ ‘Same thing.’



Nigel made a tiny concession: ‘Well, yes, advertising is partly about

getting the brand message across.’ Then he was back on track. He said

interactivity is ‘the opposite of selling’ because ‘in future people

will be able to tailor the ads to the way they want to receive them’.



Speaking for every middle-class breakfast table in the land, the

interviewer exploded: ‘This is not some educational exercise! You’re

trying to sell Frosties! You seem reluctant to say that.’



‘It’s new and terribly exciting and this is just the beginning,’ Nigel

said, his red-faced bid for immortality a salutary lesson for every

novice interviewee.



Advertising is about selling. We’ll all sleep more soundly when we admit

it.



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