It’s not exactly a trade secret to admit that there is a time gap
between the column I write and the one you read. In other words, you are
already in the new year while I am still languishing in the old one,
when everyone is on holiday and there is no news worth commenting on.
Which explains why the topic of this column is Campaign’s
Christmas-themed Private View by Mark Wnek (see p34).
In the spirit of festive mischief, we thought it would be fun to ask one
of Soho’s respected creative directors to chew over seasonal offerings
from Ferrero Rocher, Freixenet sparkling wine, America Online, Boots and
Nokia. Wnek points out that the above shower do at least follow Rule
One, which is to be noticed and stick in the public’s mind. Then, as any
decent creative director would do, he rips them apart, Hannibal
Sacrilege perhaps, but I wonder whether ads like the new Ferrero Rocher
spot - showing a family building a giant Ferrero Rocher pyramid - have a
vital role to play for many British consumers: not the D&AD executive
committee, nor, thankfully, Campaign’s editorial staff but large swathes
of the UK population for whom much TV advertising feels prehistoric.
They’ve seen it all. They expect to be stimulated by communications
which challenge and comment on their vast individual pools of media and
popular culture experiences. This was once the province of the
chattering classes but I can see it becoming more relevant as
increasingly ad-literate generations grow up.
We all know the sort of ads which hover dangerously between good/bad and
bad/good. There’s the old Courts campaign with the showbiz host singing,
’I sincerely hope to see you all in Courts’, which trades upon
consumers’ inherent mistrust of the salesman, and leaves you asking ’why
does Courts want to irritate me so much?’ and thus enhancing recall no
Then there’s the ’recycled’ ad, drawing on memories of dire commercials
and making them work for a brand. For my money, Ronseal is still the
finest example, with the product-obsessed DIY nutter reborn, way beyond
the accepted parameters of advertising decorum, and with the glint of
hellfire in his eyes.
But Euro commercials like Ferrero Rocher’s - with their sentimentality,
Euro-aspirations and apparent lack of self-awareness - are at the
vanguard of this trend because they overturn everything that we have
come to expect from sophisticated UK advertising. Odd, isn’t it, how
these ads poke their way through the morass of everyday communications
as a result of their sheer strangeness? Through their intended
universality they have become a recognisable and commercially successful
genre of advertising.
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