Christmas may be over but we can still talk turkey. No, not the
remnants of that dried up horror you ate on Boxing Day but those
commercials nominated by publications during the supposed season of
goodwill as ’turkeys of the year’.
I will not name any, but as we all know they include many ads for
respected household names that bring us daily goods and services which
we take for granted. Journalists’ reasons for nomination vary but, from
what I have observed, they seem to be: ’boring’, ’irritating’, ’in bad
taste’, ’sexist’, ’irrelevant’, ’not as good as the last campaign’, etc.
As anyone who has ever been to a group discussion knows, the word most
often used by consumers is ’silly’. This does not appear on the
Journalists do not sign estimates, approve scripts, spend media money or
even necessarily use the goods or services advertised. As we say in the
trade, they are not in the target group.
So what does deserve the sobriquet turkey? We could begin with the
’ambassador’s party’ for Ferrero Rocher. This ad has appeared on most
lists at one time or another. It needs no description from me.
It did, however, run for at least three Christmas seasons and had a
serious media spend behind it. The brand remains a success.
At Christmas somebody gave us a box as a gift. Each chocolate is
individually wrapped in gold foil and branded with a white Ferrero
The box is clear and I could see how many chocolates were inside. The
box was rigid so the chocolates were uncrushed and in perfect
We tasted them, not of course for the first time, and found them good to
eat. We knew exactly what to expect from the brand because we had seen
We had received information about our gift.
The commercial shows the brand being handed to people in impeccable
evening dress, and being enjoyed. But doesn’t the After Eight ’dinner
party’ ad do roughly the same thing? Yes, but rather better. So the
strategy is right we can assume.
Some years ago a campaign was presented to me featuring millionaires
dressed in jeans, trainers and T-shirts. It bombed in research.
Consumers said they did not believe they were millionaires because if
they themselves were millionaires, they would dress like the cast of
Dallas. Now we know that the rich dress the way the agency showed them.
Therefore the basis of the ad is not wrong.
Let’s review then. Ferrero Rocher’s ad informs clearly and accurately
about the product, the taste is covered and its luxurious qualities
established. So the ad works.
What’s wrong then? Well, it fails to suspend our disbelief in the
situation in which it is portrayed. After Eight does this, not by
winding back, but by going over the top in a situation we know does not
For years I have followed the precept that strategy is the cornerstone
of a great ad. If that is not right, then however good the idea, it will
fail. The recent After Eight ad is a great ad, but Ferrero Rocher’s ad
is not a turkey and that is why it ran for so long.
Tony Scouller is the former marketing director of UDV.