Growing up in the 80s and 90s, ads WERE part of culture.
The bar was: best in break
By the late 2000s, people didn’t really like ads any more.
The bar was: top 4% (taking Dave Trott’s measure – the percentage of people who remembered and liked advertising in 2008).
Ten years later, as adoption of ad-free entertainment platforms passes 40% by some estimates, and trust in brands hits an all time low (Edelman Trust Barometer), most people just ignore them.
The bar is: best in culture (specifically entertainment).
Mother’s finale for Moneysupermarket.com was both remembered and liked by the British public.
It lives up to every bar. If I saw it in an ad break, it’d be best in break. It passes the 4% test (remembered and liked). But most fundamentally, it is in and of itself a piece of entertainment. So much so that you could believe it was a music video from Action Man. It borrows from culture, but isn’t borrowed interest.
Yet it’s also strategically on point - it conveys the emotional end benefit of saving money, has the confidence to promote a category benefit and not a brand benefit (proving Sharp’s point that distinctiveness trumps differentiation) and avoids the aggregator category convention of name fame at any cost. They’re confident enough to know that the "feeling epic" entertainment property can only be attributed back to them.
The challenge of making advertising entertaining has been ever thus.
But as we try to design ideas for the blur of the fast forward and the thumb scroll and the competitive set that is $10m per episode fictional dramas, advertising SHOULD be at its most entertaining ever.
Advertising will be around for a long time to come, albeit in different formats. Digital outdoor seems to thrive in Blade Runner and Minority Report.
But only if it entertains.
Adwatch research is conducted via an internet omnibus survey among 1000 GB adults, aged 16-64, through Research Express, part of Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading data, insight & consulting agencies.
Toto Ellis is the head of strategy at Droga5 London