PERSPECTIVE: HHCL Tango ads go mainstream while keeping old values

It is extraordinary how some campaigns polarise opinion, not only about whether they should be allowed out of the agency at all, but about the merits or otherwise of the creative work. When I watched the new Tango ads at home over the weekend, the friend on my right applauded enthusiastically at the end, while the one on my left pointedly kept his hands apart. My initial reaction was to ask: ’What’s happened to the orange hit?’ rather like Tim Mellors does in this week’s Private View.

It is extraordinary how some campaigns polarise opinion, not only

about whether they should be allowed out of the agency at all, but about

the merits or otherwise of the creative work. When I watched the new

Tango ads at home over the weekend, the friend on my right applauded

enthusiastically at the end, while the one on my left pointedly kept his

hands apart. My initial reaction was to ask: ’What’s happened to the

orange hit?’ rather like Tim Mellors does in this week’s Private

View.



Thing is, thanks to years of witty and original advertising from HHCL &

Partners, Tango is one of those peculiar advertisers we all want to

like. It’s produced great work in a category where the greats can be

counted on the fingers of a mitten. It’s proved that a small budget is

no obstacle to a small British advertiser intent on taking on the deep

pockets of Coke and Pepsi.



These new commercials - ’unexpected guest’ in TV and cinema versions,

and ’staffroom’ - mark the first major Tango TV campaign to emerge since

we were promised ’no more crap Tango commercials’ more than a year

ago.



So call me soft, or intoxicated by bank holiday sunshine, but I reckon

they deserve a closer look.



OK, they are underwhelming if they are judged, luvvie-style, as the

latest in the series of famous Tango ads. But an increasingly large

proportion of the volume Tango sells is now in two-litre bottles in

supermarkets bought by mums in supermarkets. The brief was to develop a

new positioning for Tango and produce something which was obviously

different, with decent production values, though not of the old

knockabout style.



Hence Tango as the great British institution to rival tea and the

endline: ’We drink Tango, don’t you know.’



Will it work? It’s too early to say, but it certainly displays an

abiding faith in long nurtured and campaignable brand values. In many

other cases when a client with an image problem commits to a costly

repositioning, one of its first actions is to dump its old advertising,

and possibly its agency. It happened to Bartle Bogle Hegarty over W. H.

Smith and Allied Dunbar, to WCRS over Caffrey’s and DMB&B over Whiskas.

The client wants some shiny new ads to show it is different, and not the

old product it used to be. Which is crazy because, given the right

support, agencies are not only experts in developing new positionings

for brands - witness Leo Burnett taking McDonald’s from Americana to

slice-of-life Britishness or DMB&B taking Maltesers from kids’ treat to

adult snack - they are also superb at engineering the most extraordinary

about turns. Just ask Saatchi & Saatchi how it managed to champion

British Airways as ’the world’s favourite airline’ one day, then praise

Delta to the skies the next.