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Remember all those wonderful television commercials?

October 3, 2011

Flickr: nabeule1

As I sat in the Loerie audience on Sunday night a week or so back, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had seen very little to nothing that took my breath away. There was not a single television ad where I could apply that old test of saying “I wish we had done that!”

Sure there was some nice stuff, the Everlast ad with the “hungry robber”, the Avril Elizabeth Home ads and from a pure craft point of view, the 8.ta work which was done in a Tim Burton style, made it interesting to watch, but didn’t make me feel anything. I think I liked the tactical Nando’s “CEO” ad the most, it made us laugh – and is on-brand.

But where were the big, glorious brands that we have come to know and most importantly, love – primarily as a result of their historic TV ads?

Where were the challenger brands that bravely fight the status quo?

I have worked on a number of iconic brands where a lot of the imagery and brand associations are residual as opposed to current and fresh in the mind of consumers. When you take on the accounts you wonder when and how decisions were made along the way e.g. to drop this line, to take away that established image – and very soon, through a seemingly benign process of little incremental “tweaks”, the brand has lost a lot of what it stood for.

Brand properties:  About 7 years ago I worked on Melrose. Parmalat had recently acquired the brand and our first question was “so what happened to the Mum remembered Melrose line and jingle?” It appeared the previous marketing team felt it had lost its relevance and had decided to drop it. Based on what insight or research we asked? Well, needless to say, there wasn’t any. So we brought the line back. Today’s mums knew it from when they were kids – and loved it.

Certain brands demand big ads. It’s what consumers want and expect from them – and the way the way the brand behaves. Allan Gray is such an example. You actually look forward to watching their next instalment. The automotive category used to be rich with competitive spirit. It made the advertising great. Mercedes vs.BMW, Volkswagen vs. Toyota – or vice versa. Citi Golf vs. Opel Corsa, Toyota Conquest, Fiat Palio and the like. Big, emotive, majestic productions. The Hospitality, Telco, Banking, Alcohol and FMCG categories were rich with great work. The brands were well articulated and the competitive spirit forced us to do brilliant work. “Makes you think, doesn’t it?”

Today, in many ways, the facile pursuit of awards and other tinsel has made agencies pursue cool vs. loved and sexy vs. “emotional”.  And the results are there for all to see. Some brands today stand for very little. Many of the ads that win, you’ve never seen, on brands you hardly know. And I do blame awards show judges and juries in addition to agencies and clients for allowing this.

Today, the brave work gets elevated to award show scam and the “responsible work” is viewed as boring – so it isn’t pushed and prodded and polished until it is good enough to make you laugh, cry and buy – and win an award.

So here’s a challenge to us all. For Loeries 2012, let’s try make far better television work over the coming year. Where we establish powerful and resonant brand properties that even our kids will recall when they grow up. Where we fight for good, real work to come through – and run a little scam section to celebrate some good ideas that never ran.

Let’s stop thinking in little executional ideas and more in big brand ideas that will “stand the test of time”. I think as an industry and marketers, we’ve all taken enough out of the well of trust – it’s time to start pouring back in.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 4, 2011 12:09 pm

    Hi Mike,

    I saw this post on BizComm and it’s very interesting that not many creatives have picked up on the seeming absence of the big brands, at least, they’re not expressing it. Cheers for pointing that out. Lol, I like the idea of having a scam section to celebrate good ideas that never ran, there are plenty of those!

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