It is extraordinary how some campaigns polarise opinion, not only
about whether they should be allowed out of the agency at all, but about
the merits or otherwise of the creative work. When I watched the new
Tango ads at home over the weekend, the friend on my right applauded
enthusiastically at the end, while the one on my left pointedly kept his
hands apart. My initial reaction was to ask: ’What’s happened to the
orange hit?’ rather like Tim Mellors does in this week’s Private
Thing is, thanks to years of witty and original advertising from HHCL &
Partners, Tango is one of those peculiar advertisers we all want to
like. It’s produced great work in a category where the greats can be
counted on the fingers of a mitten. It’s proved that a small budget is
no obstacle to a small British advertiser intent on taking on the deep
pockets of Coke and Pepsi.
These new commercials - ’unexpected guest’ in TV and cinema versions,
and ’staffroom’ - mark the first major Tango TV campaign to emerge since
we were promised ’no more crap Tango commercials’ more than a year
So call me soft, or intoxicated by bank holiday sunshine, but I reckon
they deserve a closer look.
OK, they are underwhelming if they are judged, luvvie-style, as the
latest in the series of famous Tango ads. But an increasingly large
proportion of the volume Tango sells is now in two-litre bottles in
supermarkets bought by mums in supermarkets. The brief was to develop a
new positioning for Tango and produce something which was obviously
different, with decent production values, though not of the old
Hence Tango as the great British institution to rival tea and the
endline: ’We drink Tango, don’t you know.’
Will it work? It’s too early to say, but it certainly displays an
abiding faith in long nurtured and campaignable brand values. In many
other cases when a client with an image problem commits to a costly
repositioning, one of its first actions is to dump its old advertising,
and possibly its agency. It happened to Bartle Bogle Hegarty over W. H.
Smith and Allied Dunbar, to WCRS over Caffrey’s and DMB&B over Whiskas.
The client wants some shiny new ads to show it is different, and not the
old product it used to be. Which is crazy because, given the right
support, agencies are not only experts in developing new positionings
for brands - witness Leo Burnett taking McDonald’s from Americana to
slice-of-life Britishness or DMB&B taking Maltesers from kids’ treat to
adult snack - they are also superb at engineering the most extraordinary
about turns. Just ask Saatchi & Saatchi how it managed to champion
British Airways as ’the world’s favourite airline’ one day, then praise
Delta to the skies the next.