Harry Carpenter is not the only Harry who will be in his element this
week. The eponymous tot who stars in the Safeway series will be
delighted to read in the tabloids that his appearances have put him
right up there with the megastars, Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne, in
their crisp spot, for the title of Britain’s favourite ad.
Close behind come the Barclaycard series starring Rowan Atkinson and
those PG Tips chimps, still much-loved after more than 20 years. It will
be a surprise only to a certain breed of creative, much in evidence at
Grosvenor House last night for the British Television Advertising
Continue down the list: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Peugeot 406, Gold Blend,
Diet Coke, Halifax, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Carlsberg, Peperami and
Woolworths, among others - some of which are derided by the luvvier
elements, some acknowledged as ‘sweet, but not our kind of thing’, and
some deliberately ignored, despite their obvious qualities, because the
agency responsible isn’t ‘in the club’.
Having said that, the public has taken the consistently award-winning
Levi’s, Smirnoff, Nike and Volvo ads to its heart. This is some
achievement, particularly for Smirnoff and Nike, which have, more than
any of the others in the table, relied on outdoor and press to reinforce
the messages from a much less weighty broadcast spend.
The Campaign-commissioned survey presents a fascinating contrast to
other research that relies on recall alone. Unsurprisingly, these lists
are dominated by BT and the National Lottery ads. Unsurprising because
both spend around pounds 50 million a year on getting their messages
across. It is, perhaps, more surprising that these two campaigns did not
trouble the scorers when it came to likeability. But only perhaps. As
for what Fiat Bravo/Brava is doing in there, one can only reach for the
cliche: ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk.’
Does likeability matter? Well, one might ask Safeway how much of its
recent rebirth has been due to the success of the Harry campaign, or
Walkers how much its booming sales depend on Gary Lineker. In fact,
Walkers has already answered that one by renaming one of its flavours
‘Salt ‘n’ Lineker’. Ask Peperami or Tesco. Look at the brands at the top
of the sector categories in our feature and it doesn’t take a planner to
work it out.
This is not to denigrate the BTAA winners. Both Pirelli and Volvo are
fine ads. It is right to aspire to their heights - but only in context.
The most telling thing about the list of the most-liked is not that they
are all proper, grown-up brands competing in a marketplace a world away
from city gyms and taxicab firms, it is rather that the majority of them
would succeed at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.