CLOSE-UP: PERSPECTIVE; Why you can’t cut corners and have a strong ad series

It was a week when we were left dangling. First, we’ll never find out if India Knight had her baby because the ‘diary of a housewife’ column is no more following the sad demise of Today. Second, none of us will ever know ‘que signifie 1664?’ - although, I suspect, most us never really cared - because Scottish Courage has decided to drop the series (Campaign, last week). In case you were wondering, the brand is Kronenbourg 1664.

It was a week when we were left dangling. First, we’ll never find out if

India Knight had her baby because the ‘diary of a housewife’ column is

no more following the sad demise of Today. Second, none of us will ever

know ‘que signifie 1664?’ - although, I suspect, most us never really

cared - because Scottish Courage has decided to drop the series

(Campaign, last week). In case you were wondering, the brand is

Kronenbourg 1664.



Thankfully too, the search for the amber nectar is nearly over. It’s purely coincidental that this is also a Scottish Courage brand. I don’t

mean to have a pop at one of the best clients around, and I hesitate to

say this, but the recent Foster’s campaign has not been John Webster’s

finest hour.



But neither Young and Rubicam nor BMP DDB Needham are entirely to blame

for the failure of these two ideas. Although the creative ideas were not

gripping, the problems stem, yet again, from the current difficulty in

chasing elusive viewers. Commercial series today need a heavy spend to

stand a chance of succeeding. Neither Kronenbourg (pounds 2.4 million

Register-MEAL) nor Foster’s (pounds 3.5 million) seemed to put enough

well-spent money behind each execution to get them established in the

viewer’s mind, let alone set up the next spot. At one stage, Kronenbourg

actually appeared to be going backwards.



The gap between the latest and previous executions was too long to

provide a sense of continuity. But clients appear to believe they have

the solution to this problem: the ten-second cutdown. To me, cutdowns

only compound matters and leave viewers even more confused than before.



What’s the most successful ad series on television at the moment? Gold

Blend. There’s no question about it. Leave aside whether you like the

storyline or characters or not, it works in the format for which it is

intended. And, as much as any other reason, it works because Nescafe

commits enough money to it to make it stick (pounds 7.5 million). And

remember, unlike the other two, this is already a well-established

campaign.



It’s partly an argument about how mainstream you want your brand to be.

In this world of ‘me TV’ and all that, a mass brand still requires a

serious financial commitment. The alternative is to recognise a narrower

potential audience and direct people to your advertising (Scottish

Courage’s Miller), or use your execution as a means of achieving mass

market exposure (Wonderbra). But neither of these are series. Series

need continuity. The only reason I care, even a tiny bit, about India

Knight’s baby (and it is only a tiny bit) is because I’ve been exposed

to her prattling on about it every Saturday for the past six months. Who

cares if the Gold Blend couple do it or not? You’d be surprised.