February 13, 2009

The art of the advert..

A print advertisement for the 1913 issue of th...Image via Wikipedia

I'm going to show you links to a number of UK TV commercials.

Here's the first one. Click here to watch

Now the second one. Click here to watch

So far so good...

Now watch this one, and this one.

I think you'll agree that they were all very memorable and very different. The first sets of adverts use 'traditional' methods of advertising (i.e. placing the product - or icons related to the product - first and foremost in the minds of the viewers) where as the second two adverts focus more on some sort of 'left-field' kind of imagery not related to the item being advertised, but which is meant to bring the viewer to a place where they 'talk' about the product itself and create almost an advertising 'meme'

So here are some questions (and answer these without cheating, please)
- The first commercial was advertising an airline. Which one?
- The second commercial was advertising a car insurance comparison site. Which one?
- Now tell me what product the last two were advertising?

I'll lay money on the fact that you can't answer that last question. (Answers at the end of the post). If you can answer it and haven't seen the advert before then well done!

The four adverts were chosen for two reasons:

1) They are specifically memorable adverts on UK TV which have all been remarked upon in either the print or TV media as being fine examples of the art (there are of course, others. But these suffice for the discussion today)
2) They are examples where the advert itself was memorable probably as much - or more so - than the product or service being advertised.

The first advert was memorable because of the fact it invoked the spirit of the 1980's: The appropriate clothing, mobile phones, references to the miners strike. Our Price records, Wimpy burgers etc.

The second advert introduced us to a character with potential to become a brand icon. This is quite similar to the US Gecko/Geicko character who ran in a long chain of commercials over there. Indeed Alexander the meerkat has already appeared in a second commercial for the same company. Furthermore both of these commercials had the 'brand' uppermost in the visuals.

The third and fourth adverts both introduced 'shock value' to their product's commercials. More so because at no point do the visuals make any mention of the brands they are advertising. Interestingly, in my (albeit limited) survey of viewers, everybody liked the first two adverts and everybody found the second two adverts 'slightly disturbing'.

So what does this tell you about advertsing executives and creative types?

Personally I think all the adverts are excellent examples of the kind of thing you want your commercial to have : "Word of Mouth". Regardless of whether folks are talking positively or negatively about the commercial they are talking about it. My own brother in-law can be heard wondering around saying "Simples" in day-to-day conversation after Alexander the meerkat and the number of blog and social media mentions for the airline commercial in the UK is huge.

Before we wrap up this discussion with a final question, here are the answers to the earlier ones:

1) Virgin Atlantic
2) Comparethemarket.com
3) Cadbury's dairy milk chocolate.

Did you get all of those? I'm betting you probably got the first two but not the third. If you didn't get the answer to the last question then I would have to question the effectiveness of the Cadbury's adverts. Striking they may be. Memorable too. But if you can't remember what they're advertising, are they useless?

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