Adwatch: Robinsons ad leaves you feeling 'a tad uncomfortable'

Emily James, the chief strategy officer of Y&R London, thinks Robinsons just about gets away with it in this spot from Saatchi & Saatchi.

Summer fetes, bike rides, picnics and building dens in the woods. Few brands evoke such idyllic, nostalgic feelings these days. But it’s exactly this ownership of innocent childhood that presents Robinsons with a challenge when trying to build strength in the adult market.

Of course, strategy needs to be able to turn challenges like these into opportunities. And this neat piece of planning does just that. It juxtaposes this wholesome, iconic brand directly against its sophisticated new variant.  

It’s a classic approach which dramatises the new product attribute by exploiting well recognised brand assets. Or in this case using one of the brand assets – children - as a spokesperson.

In this ad a child of around seven catches his mum about to help herself to a Monday night glass of wine. We soon realise that this is the archetypal "role swap" allowing the young boy to extol the benefits of Robinsons’ new adult proposition in a very grown up way to his guilty looking mum.

Strategically, I think the strength of this ad is its simple construct. And simplicity is much underrated these days, with so many ads leaving people baffled in their attempt to court attention. 

Creatively, getting children to play the "grown-up" role is risky. Precocious children can be a little hard to engage with (is this why mum’s hitting the vino?). The ad stood out to me when going through the Adwatch list but did leave me feeling a tad uncomfortable. Having said that, there’s a lightness to the dialogue and subtlety to the performance that means they just about get away with it, I think. Clearly 27% of people agree with that anyway.

Emily James is the chief strategy officer of Y&R London