Have you noticed a change for the worse in the attitude towards parents as well the attitude towards kids in advertising in general? (I’m merging some streams there, so hang on.) You’ve probably seen the latest Domino’s spot where kids revolt over revolting pizza, and where also the woman at the end gets nailed with a ball? Good times! (Also check out an appearance by classic brand icon The Noid at the end under the easel.) There’s just something about that and another spot for Bing that’s been a recurring theme, and it’s this sense of mean-spiritedness.
While this might seem like I’m aiming at Crispin, I’m not, per se. I’ve dug most things I’ve seen from them – Y’ALL KNOW THAT IF YOU’VE BEEN READING LONG ENOUGH – but there’s this tone that frames adults in a lot of their work as not just bumbling idiots, but the enemy. (This is a dynamic present in a lot of agency work, not just theirs.) In talking with an agency CD slash writer recently, we both came to this place where generally, you can tell spots written by agency creatives who must not have kids, because there seems to be no awareness shown of what’s appropriate for certain audiences, let alone how kids are treated.
Kids in advertising are officially all-knowing, so suck it mom & dad. Take the Kraft Mac & Cheese kid with Creepy deep voiceover guy Ted Williams. (That kid should get his ass kicked, then the Best Buy girl, followed by the Toyota Highlander punk.)
Not that the work here is juvenile, but that there are enough times where elements of that mean-spiritedness reveals itself as double-entendre gone too far. It’s a fine line where the tone goes past funky or edgy to somewhere darker, from laughing with you to at you. The Bing spot above has a lot of that in how each of the characters respond, like, really? Did they just say that? Hangover-inspired humor is fine. I DIG THAT SHIT. But does it need to be the brand’s entire voice? (I liked the telenovelas parody vibe of Los Links, so it’s not that I hate everything they do.)
But Google didn’t create and dominate the search category by appealing to just one demo.
For its part, The King was in a different space. It was borderline creepy/kinky, but at least it was adults vs. adults, even if some of it was anchored in a darker place. But when I see the new generic spots for Wendy’s and McDonald’s, there’s no place for The Funk™ with category leaders in fast
At what point does the mission to stand out no matter what stop being the only rationale to hang your hat on. The end of the CP+B/BK relationship probably marks that point.
An audience doesn’t belong to any agency and how it wants to write to them, nor do people need an agency to create a vibe for how they should feel about a brand. Granted, this is a lot of what we all do in this business every day, but it ultimately means nothing if our actual experiences with brands contradict the vibe established in its advertising.