23 February 2012
It's only February, and I've discovered a new marketing strategy already.
Take the name of a product, swap the letters around and bingo - new product!
At a New Year's Eve party, the 18-year-olds kept asking me for "sid-rah".
"Cider?" I would say helpfully.
"Sure, one cider coming right up!"
"No ... sid-rah!"
It wasn't an isolated incident. It happened a lot and featured a large cast of characters.
It seems cidre and cider are as different as lemonade and milkshake in Muswell Hill. It's not being chosen because it's "made only by people with a passion for making cider", or made by "a family who've been making cider since the beginning of time", or even that it's "made with extra cheeky apples from Cheekydale farm".
Rather than trying to justify its existence in the already crowded cider category, Stella Artois has cunningly swapped the last two letters around and made it cool.
What's more, it seems to have worked. I feel a bit like an architect who has just read: "Foundations no longer needed, new study says - good-looking buildings just stay up."
It's impressive - you have to take it on board.
Anyway, on to this week's crop of ads. First up - T-Mobile. (Bit awkward - overseen by my old partner Paul and my BMP chums Potsy and Jexxy.) An investigation into what Britain likes leads T-Mobile to come up with the "Full Monty" deal: we see various Britons walk over various brows of hills accompanied by an unusual Harry Hill voiceover. It's not like his usual advertising voiceovers: this one's funny - it feels like he's making it up as he goes along.
The link between "what Britons like" and T-Mobile's new tariff is a little tenuous, but they make a hell of a song and dance about it in a very watchable way. You can't help but like it.
(Note to planner: was the "Full Monte" tariff ever explored?)
British Airways. (Awkward - overseen by ex-joint head of art mate Mark Reddy.) Erm ...
the art direction all looks very tidy. Personally, all these Olympic brand ads are starting to merge, to the point where I'm questioning ads that aren't Olympic-related: "No athletes in that Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire puddings ad? What's their problem?"
I'm sure most people reading this will have been recently swapping old logos with NEW Limited Edition Union Jack versions, but will it help all the companies involved?
Orange. (Awkward - produced by ex-DHMers Gary and Tony.) Time stands still as some odd puppety ninja characters work like crazy to approximate the benefits of using the internet on a mobile phone, but in a lo-fi way - they use mirrors to reflect Sky Sports on TV, drop off a newspaper etc. It's all very nicely done, but surely people can imagine what it's like to get the internet on their phones?
Cravendale. (Awkward - overseen by my old Leagas chums Tony and Kim.) In this one, Kermit shows Pepe his Kermit backpack, Pepe shows Kermit his "magic potato". Very simple. Funny. Contains the best "OK" I've heard in years. Does anyone remember how dreary the Cravendale brand appeared before it got its creative work from Shoreditch?
Loyd Grossman sauces. (Awkward - shot by my son's godfather, Jimbo.) Neat. I like the idea of showing Grossman down the years. Nicely shot too! Not 100 per cent sure why we are going back in time - does SauceBoy need to justify his credentials for making sauce? Post-cidre, I would say not.
Transport for London. (No link to anyone.) This is rubbish.
Glad that's over. I'm off for a large cofefe and a buiscut.
Are agency folk more likely to be seduced by advertising than normal people, or less so? I was on an awards jury a couple of months back and I found myself furtively scribbling down the details of a product featured in one of the submissions. Perhaps some in the industry become inured to ads, but I'm afraid I've gone the other way. So I approached this week's Private View with a mixture of excitement and trepidation; excitement at the thought of seeing some stellar creative work, but a tad nervous in case I ended up with a house full of stuff I don't need. Let's see what made its way into my basket.
There is a well-established link between creativity and effectiveness (BrainJuicer does a great presentation on it). And a great campaign can push up an advertiser's share price. So, there's a strong argument that retail advertising needs to be more creative, not less so. But it also needs to be clear and measurable. The Orange TV spot was very entertaining. Those little ninja guys are dead helpful, bringing all manner of music, news and TV to a chap waiting at a train station. But I'm unclear as to what exactly Orange is offering and how I can find out more, other than going to the Orange shop in person. Which I'm unlikely to do when I don't know what it's talking about.
However, I've just popped some Cravendale into my shopping basket. This is a sweet and quirky little spot that perfectly captures The Muppets' humour; using a magic potato to sell a backpack has got to be a first. Beyond that, it defies any further dissection. Buy Cravendale, get a free Kermit backpack. Why wouldn't you?
Besides, I've just added four British Airways tickets to my shopping and a backpack will come in handy for my travels. Against a breathless commentary from a 200-metre sprint, we are shown how BA plans to deliver passengers and baggage from around the globe to London for the Olympics. It's an engaging idea. There's some footage of the impressive behind-the-scenes baggage handling machinery in Terminal 5 that I find fascinating in a nerdy way.
On nerds: Loyd Grossman has built a ready-made sauce business on the back of his idiosyncratic style. This latest ad for his pasta sauce goes back to Loyd's roots. It's well-shot with some wry observations that make me smile, but the whole formula is just a bit tired. I need to be told something I don't know. The jars don't make it into my basket.
Much fresher altogether is the 90-second film for T-Mobile, which launched on Facebook and YouTube. I wonder if that's how they got away with "Shitterton"? Extra marks for the inclusion of Fenton. There's something of the Blackcurrant Tango about this spot and the call to action is no less powerful. I bookmark T-Mobile for further investigation. Even though I am locked into an O2 contract.
Ads for the Olympics again. This time, print from Transport for London urging you to sort out your travel routes ahead of the Games. I say "urging", but this work lacks any sense of immediacy or importance. Given that London plans to smash a world record with its gargantuan gridlock, we need something more than polite posters to get us all prepared. Smart use of data and geo-location tech would be a good place to start.
A quick rummage in my shopping basket: some Cravendale (with Kermit backpack), four BA tickets and a T-Mobile contract. Now I just need an ad for a credit card with 0 per cent APR for six months and free balance transfers.