advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We make ads.

Apparently they hate *advertising* in New Zealand too. “THAT’S NOT TRUE — TAKE IT BACK.” Okay, not all of it, just some. I came across this playful spot for New World Supermarkets by agency 99, and what jumped out was the changing dynamic between agencies who just *make ads* and those approaching brand challenges differently. I didn’t know them before today, but it looked like here was an another agency getting staff to do something *big* and fun so that you the viewer will think nice thoughts about them.

This is a classic *we make ads* mindset at work. It’s not a knock on the effort that went into the piece; that part’s solid. It’s a typical solution though where once again, a brand’s employees are put into unrealistic situations just to appear creative. Fine, if that melds with the actual customer experience. Maybe New World staff escort you out to your car playing fruit trumpets, who knows. (If they do, then I’m moving there.)

But if we’re supposed to be in this phase of advertising where practical and a sense of utility rules, where brands offer real value, then do grand moments with employees like this ring true? Or is it “Just help me get what I need,” because when it comes down to it, that’s what I expect from the *shopping* experience. No games, no extras.

No games, no extras doesn’t fit with agency mindsets focused on big brand moments however, nor does it satisfy a brand convinced it needs them.

I’ve thought for a long time that the next *big thing* in advertising won’t be an actual product or service, but instead – honesty. Where not only does a brand’s messaging fit perfectly with their customers’ experiences, but the brand itself acknowledges all the public sentiment surrounding it.

We’re not there yet.

(Domino’s real photos pizza campaign may appear to be the embodiment of this idea, but the message is undermined by a deceptive agenda behind the scenes and an entire industry glossing over an even uglier truth.)

That aside, I love all parts of advertising, from epic to the choreographed fun of Ford’s new Fiesta spot and Zombie approach, but no matter what recall purists believe, it will never convince to me to buy. I respond more to someone caught on tape talking about the experience.

Or jump to categories with brands focused on customer service like Apple (or social networks like Twitter and Facebook), and you see they don’t need to promote their people in outlandish ways.

Advertising seems stuck though between wanting both: the broad, epic moment with themes to make you feel a certain way, and the everyday spots about value or price. Two brands combining both dynamics are Best Buy and Zappos.

Best Buy staff will don them some festive apparel while their Twelpforce offers value to people needing help. Zappos’ call center puppet spots make you go awwww, but they’re also based on real calls that highlight their commitment to customer service.

Bringing it around, do brands need to force a creative vibe on their staff? I’ll let anonymous Kiwi opinion speak for itself:

“Terrible! What's the idea in this ad? The 'rent a crowd' dancers running towards the stage in the park look utterly contrived. Other than being at the incredibly soft end of brand communication (from Colenso 99!?), where you just like the song or some other element, what does this ad actually say to the consumer?” – Anonymous

“Nice work 99. [ Anonymous ] you need a happy pill. – Anonymous

“Everyone who has commented positively about this ad obviously has been instructed to do so by .99. This ad is awful. .99 should be embarrassed. The client should be embarrassed. I'm sure Dave Dobbyn is. It looks like alot of money has been spent on a 'brand' ad that will do nothing for the brand, much like the kids campaign. Where are the food cues? what does it say about the experience?
Worst ad of the year by far.”
– Anonymous

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