The cost of car advertising is, in many ways, the issue that dare not
speak its name. With so many clients in other sectors cutting back
advertising spends (in real terms), and with much of the industry still
on some sort of commission-based remuneration, it’s a brave manager that
questions the hands that feed the agency.
However, with a viewer’s or reader’s hat on, one might be excused for
appealing for mercy. The sheer volume of car advertising directed at us
is overwhelming. In itself, that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t all so
charmless and so similar.
Loath as I am to help the Cannes organisers make even more money, all
agencies with car clients would profit from dragging those clients along
to the car category at Cannes this June to sit in the dark for three
hours spotting the same stretch of desert and/or winding road, and even
tame lizard, in commercial after commercial. The argument that it’s
unwise to draw conclusions from such a false environment holds less sway
than usual. Viewers are bombarded with all these ads at home. Perhaps
they don’t all come on together, it just feels as if they do.
It’s not easy, though, is it? Car clients seem to have copyrighted their
own peculiar form of nightmare. And then, when something different this
way comes... if a single soul out there can explain the current
Mitsubishi ad, feel free to write in. And you thought the Vectra ad was
confusing, the Megane work naff...
It can, of course, be done. Much ink has been spilled over, and awards
doled out to, the innovative and refreshing Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters
launch campaign for Daewoo. Even fiercely competitive rivals have been
forced to praise it. Some are now planning their own version of
friendly, cut-out-the-middle-man-style work. Daewoo’s trick was to gear
its whole launch to meeting the claims made by its advertising.
Not so easy when you’re one of the truly big boys at the mass end. Euro
RSCG’s Peugeot 406 launch was lambasted by certain sections of the
advertising community (well, Tony Brignull), but it does have
extraordinary stand-out factor when viewed at home in the context of the
surrounding windy road rubbish (actually, there is one windy road shot
in it, isn’t there?). What’s more, it appears to have struck a chord
with the general public, albeit primarily through the M-People track.
I’m not a car expert, but I would wager that there’s nothing
particularly special about the 406 against its competitors, it just
feels that way now.
And to end, a few words that commit yet another one of the unwritten
heresies of the London advertising world: Ford is doing some interesting
work at the moment, press and TV. Take an unbiased look.