Monday, December 29, 2008

Simplicity in advertising

The other day I wrote about the bizarre trend towards creating ads that are elaborate pieces of film for products and brands where the sponsor scarcely gets a mention.

Over on Brand DNA I noticed there was a simultaneous thread on a similar note - also in reference to a VW ad. (I left the following comment:

Volkswagen seem to be have lost sight of something - maybe the car industry has hit the wall when it comes to innovation - they have nothing to say about their products because there is nothing that truly differentiates them from those of their competitors. The result is puffery - which, ultimately, this ad resorts to.

Interesting that the creative solution doesn't seem to be the product of any sort of planning insight either - where does the consumer fit into the equation?

I was fooling around the other day with another VW ad, purportedly one of 'The World's Best Ads', where nothing at all was said about the product and the connection at the end was so tenuous that I wondered if something had been lost in the translation from Brazilian Portuguese. There was nothing else for it but to make my own directors cut to illustrate the point that, when irrelevant creative ideas are over-laid on products the ads could be for anything. We will watch them, be amused then be amused by the next bright, shiny thing that comes along. If no genuine connection is made then the ad is no more relevant to me the Chemical Brothers music clip the commercial pastiches (or whatever gimmic is on hand).

With regards to Anais' point - it is true that 'shouty' ads are offensive but there are other forms available. It's not an 'and/or' thing.

The examples I have shown here are simple and relevant. The Union Carbide commercial is factual and contains a dramatic, compelling demonstration. The Apple 'switch' ad was part of a series where actual consumers explained, in their own language, why you should switch from PC to Apple products - and, while you could argue that some people might not know what Ellen Fliess was talking about until the end, it doesn't rely on elaborate one-off production for its 'creative' component in the way the VW fishdog ad does. In fact, as part of a campaign, or series the Apple commercial's look and tone became a a signature that evolved in to the 'I'm a Mac'...'and I'm a PC' switch campaign'.

The tone of both ads shown is powerfully muted, which addresses the thought that 'creative' ads like dogfish are in some way superior because they do not insult the intelligence or sensibilities of the consumer by asinine 'shouting'. Nor do they insult the manufacturer by assuming their is nothing relevant, competitive or distinctive to say about their product or brand.

See also: Is your advertising a dog's breakfast?

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