For all the months of planning, research, science and creativity that gets poured into the average campaign, the interaction with the consumer comes down to just a few vital touchpoints. A fleeting moment across a Tube platform, a pop-up on the side of a website or 30 seconds in the middle of a sporting event. All of your clever insights and structures are worthless unless you can make an instant connection. So which of this week’s fleeting touchpoints have managed to do it?
I’ll start with Halfords and, yes, it has. This campaign really does tell me something I’m interested in and it has done it in a simple and amusing way. As scripts, I may have worried that it had a lot to do in 30 seconds, but the dialogue and visual storytelling are bang on. The message is clear, but there is still room for bags of charm. I’m told not to get a friend to help me fit my car parts because they may want me to repay them in a manner I won’t like – far better to go to Halfords, where it will help me for a small fee. Clever and entertaining.
Two ads for Barclaycard next and, yes, they got my attention. It turns out that you can shop anywhere you like with a Barclaycard and still receive Freedom points, so we follow two shopkeepers who are upset because their favourite customers don’t shop with them any more. Nicely directed, but there are a couple of shots in the middle that could have done a bit more to help comprehension.
The ad for Eurostar leaves me feeling a little troubled. It tells me there are some interesting things I could do in Paris.
Directed in a kind of offbeat blog-style, it’s quite watchable but doesn’t tell me why I should use Eurostar to get there. There is also the equivalent ad showing some of the quirky places that French people can visit in London. This strategy of showing the true character of destinations was used by British Airways, among others, during the summer. So I may be sold on Paris – but should I fly or go by train?
I feel some affection for Paddy Power, having helped to launch it in the UK. Its advertising has become even more irreverent over the past couple of years. It has really set its stall out in a competitive marketplace by being the joker. This ad is the latest in the series, which picks up on customers’ Tweets about the brand and is dripping in black humour. We see a series of footballers, linesmen and referees being tasered instead of being bitten by Luis Suárez. There is even an appearance from the bad boy himself, Joey Barton. This is bold and single-minded advertising and really stands out.
The Zopa campaign uses the word "lamb" instead of the word "loan" because, we are told, people don’t like the word "loan". This is an attempt at a joke (I think) but I fear it may be using completely the wrong strategy here. Usually in these kind of campaigns, the word being substituted is the brand name, leading to a reinforcement of it in people’s minds – for example, the use of meerkat in the Comparethemarket.com campaign or the Geico gecko campaign that preceded it. In this campaign, we’re left remembering the lambs-and-loans word swap, but not the Zopa brand.
Anyway, I thought loan companies were sharks, not sheep.
CHI & Partners
I am about to reach a milestone. Twenty years in advertising. That’s rather a long time, but it has been quite good to me and a lot of fun, and I’ve had the most fun working on brands in categories I love, so I was delighted by this week’s Private View candidates.
In here are some of my favourite things. As anyone who knows me well will attest, I am a sucker for payday loans, betting and tinkering with old cars. Sadly, there are also a couple of things I’m less keen on, such as trips to Paris and a credit card to max out on while I’m there, but I will approach these with an open mind as best as I can.
So bring on the good stuff first. Betting. I love a flutter, and I’ve very much enjoyed the Paddy Power offering over recent years. This one, though, isn’t in the same league. The suggestion here is that biting in football is "so last season" and the new thing is tasering. But there have been lots of football ads over the years suggesting comedy rule changes or ways players can get one over on the ref. I think Paddy Power can (and should) be more original and funny. For a diehard gambler like me, I need more in-play rewards than this. And Joey Barton is totally wasted, which is just a crime against the thinking girl’s football hero.
Next up, Halfords. I love Halfords. Many is the time I’ve fitted a banging stereo to a specced-up Saxo, and Halfords has always been there for me. And here it is again performing miracles for motorists. In this case, over simple things such as lamp changes in its car parks, so you don’t have to ask a mate to do it for you. This feels like a good strategy, but is executed in a very familiar way. You know the sort of thing – normal person seeks help from friend who turns out to be a total weirdo. It’s the stock-in-trade of brands such as WKD or Phones4u. It probably reaches the young men it is targeting, but this petrolhead would rather see something fresher. And with Kwik Fit all about "mates rates" and Halfords now about "better than a mate", the sector seems to be blurring a little.
Now, if you fancy upgrading your car even beyond visiting Halfords, Zopa are the guys for you. It’s a loans company for people who don’t like loans. So, instead of saying loans in their ad, they say lambs. Madness. But actually quite clever. Removing a dirty word for a playful one makes this a compelling ad that really delivers its message. I like it. I’m not sure who Mr President is – I thought it made butter and cheese – but it has made a nice ad here too.
So I suppose I should look at the two dull ones now. First up, Eurostar. Trips to Paris, the home of Céline, Alaïa and Chanel, hold no interest for me, so I was pleased to see they focused on a very different side to the "city of light". But the current trend for mixing stills and moving footage (Tesco, Lloyds Bank etc) means this doesn’t feel that original in the final execution. Maybe "stories are waiting" will become a big social phenomenon. Maybe, as the French man on the ad is prone to say.
And, finally, Barclaycard. Lovely ad. Very nice way of communicating a USP about Barclaycard rewards. The gorgeous girl can visit any petrol station and still earn her points, leaving the pump guy, from her old regular haunt, bereft. A human way to explain a product benefit, and that is what good ads do best.