Creative partner, Hello People
Recall. Remember that? It used to be the number-one factor when judging an ad. Now click-throughs and site traffic have stolen its thunder. But if you’re going to build an ad from scratch, I think you might as well make one that people can recall.
To be remembered, the idea has to be simple, but where most ads come unstuck is that the idea, execution and product are not all aligned. The execution isn’t serving the idea, or the idea isn’t linked to the product, so you get the kind of recall that breaks marketing directors’ hearts: "The one with the exploding cow, for… it’s for a bank… or toothpaste?"
Take the Sky Sports ad. We follow David Beckham through a normal day – breakfast, lunch etc – as he keeps checking various screens. Oddly, there’s more than one Beckham in every frame. At the end, seven of the tattooed, bequiffed rascals cosy up and watch TV together. Endline: "HD. 3D. On the go."
What I could recall: David Beckham in a Sky ad. What it was about: Sky Sports aiming to convince viewers that it offers the best football coverage. But I don’t get the link between the multiple Beckhams and having the best football coverage.
Now, "dirt is good" started life with everything aligned. The ads celebrated kids being kids and getting their clothes dirty, and Persil brought their clothes back to life only for the enjoyable cycle to start all over again the next day. In this execution, an innocent ginger child isn’t fortunate enough to get her own clothes dirty – some bounder off camera lobs disgusting liquids at her. Endline: "For whatever life throws… dirt is good." I like the first part, I’m just not sure it links with the second one.
The Eurostar press ad is alright.
The Transport for London one starts with an extreme close-up of a man’s face as he says: "Could be at home watching telly now, or going for a pint. Still, it’s my own fault. Silly place to overtake, really." The camera pulls back to reveal an ambulance crew around him. "Oops, going into cardiac arrest now."
Like all the ads my wife produces, it’s very well-produced, but I don’t see how this will "reduce the number of motorcycle collisions in the capital". What can I recall? Speeding on a motorbike leads to accidents and accidents could result in death. It feels a bit patronising to bikers: they won’t listen to reason, so let’s just scare the shit out of them – and, by the way, death is rubbish, nowhere near as much fun as that other stuff you bikers do, like going to the pub with your mates or watching telly.
Diageo’s online film opens with the voiceover: "The nominations for this year’s most embarrassing performance in a drinking role." We then see 50 seconds of various people making complete and utter tits of themselves. Endline: "Do you embarrass your friends? Think how you drink." Followed by the logos of the guilty parties, the alcoholic drinks that made these people behave embarrassingly in the first place – Guinness, Smirnoff etc. You know who you are.
The product and idea are aligned, and it’s laudable work from Diageo, but it comes out of it so badly. Instead of saying "be careful with our products" and appearing caring and responsible, it simply points out that its products turn you into a complete arse, then ends.
Why diss alcohol when your sole source of income is alcohol? I hope for Diageo’s sake that nobody recalls it.
Director of strategy and planning, international, LBi
It’s a while since I’ve been asked for my opinion about paid media advertising, so I was very pleased to find the first of my assignments in more familiar territory. Type "drunk fails" into YouTube and you will be in populous, if not excellent, company. Upwards of four million folk regularly rofl at videos of real-life, really wasted people falling over. There are channels dedicated to the phenomenon.
But Diageo’s baffling addition to the genre, in which it has needlessly employed actors to do the same thing, adds a somewhat po-faced question: "Do you embarrass your friends?" Which, you know, kind of ruins the joke. Thankfully, this awkwardness is relieved by a screen of logos including familiar brands such as Captain Morgan: so it’s OK, they’re pissheads too. For a second there, I thought DRINKiQdave didn’t get it. I prefer the real fails to these acted ones, though. Maybe Guinness doesn’t get you pissed enough.
When I’m not watching American college students drinking tequila through their noses, I like to return to my playlist of ads in which David Beckham has his top off. It’s a well-clicked bit of the internet, and since H&M seemed to revive his interest in running around in his pants for money this year, it was with excitement that I added Sky Sports’ latest to the set. It was, I’m afraid, a bit of a letdown.
On the plus side, the vests are occasionally quite tight and there is a full minute of lots of David Beckhams benignly wandering about, occasionally smiling at something. But I’m not sure why they are showing me this, or why there are absolutely no nipples. If you’re going to hurl money at a really simple communications problem, and pay for Lord Beckham himself to hold up a tablet with your football coverage on it (do people who care about such things really not expect to receive Sky Sports on more than one device?), I’m not sure why you can’t demand a bit of bare chest while he’s at it.
You remember that brilliant brand idea for Persil "dirt is good"? They’ve made it into a very obvious, albeit very pretty, TV ad. Little girl inexplicably has paint thrown at her in a cornfield. She doesn’t seem to mind. Will anyone else notice more than she does?
Likewise, Eurostar’s Paris-map-turned-bicycle-wheel. In both cases, every scrap of potential emotion in the proposition has been overlooked in favour of an elegant visual metaphor. "Dirt is good" used to be about seeing your beloved kids rough and tumble without penalty; and getting excited about the Tour de France used to be about the raw, astonished pride at some lads from near you sweatily being the bloody best at something. But yes, you’re right, roundabouts do look a bit like bike wheels from above, yeah.
By contrast, M&C Saatchi’s "dead man talking" for Transport for London is a guttural wallop in the biker’s stomach. As ever from this lot, the situation is dark, the humour blacker than a congealed scab, and the whole thing mercilessly crafted to make one point in a few, very sticky, moments. He may be as much an actor as those fake drunks in the Diageo vid, but this bloke is very definitely nearly dead and yet talking to me about it. Yikes.
That is what paid media is for. That, and David Beckham in a pair of tighty whiteys.