Friday, November 03, 2006

Ad Awards

It’s very tricky to make a watchable commercial about boring products like tiles, or taps, petrol or pool acid. This is where creative muscles need to be flexed, but not too much. Sometimes a little creativity goes a long way. Sometimes using seemingly irrelevant ideas to market your product can work, but sometimes it just doesn’t float. Once when I interned for The Jupiter Drawing Room in Cape Town they wanted ideas to make guests staying on their own feel less lonely. I proposed a goldfish in a bowl, or a tame parrot (something I remember seeing once at the reception desk of a hotel) to be sent to their rooms. The point is, sometimes thinking out of conventional wisdom is the way to go to refresh a brand, and make it more exciting.

Anyone see The Apprentice, when both teams were supposed con conjure up commercials for a soap brand? Both were pretty distasteful. Good taste is something that can’t really be taught. You either have the common sense that something works, or you don’t. In advertising, to lack this sense is to face dismissal from audiences everywhere.


Sasol’s latest offering demonstrates how technology (particularly innovations in chemistry) might be employed to show us, for example, when a milk bottle goes off. The picture a boy in the aisle of a supermarket in the end is powerful.
Standard Bank has a way of making very, very memorable advertising, and their lines have a way of sticking in our brains. Remember: simpler, better, faster? Now they have: inspired, motivated, involved. And their latest TV offering humanizes a world that is in serious need of it. It describes the valuable relationships we have in our lives, and that underneath these relationships we ought to have solid financing. Brilliant, and a sound philosophy behind it.
I also like HTH’s : a pool wants to be blue. Let it. It’s a great idea but I think the execution could have been a little better. For starters, is a clear pool blue or blinding white? And in reality, the blue paint that swims off a garage door wouldn’t look at all good in a swimming pool. Perhaps they could try pouring a glass of champagne beside a green pool. The drink and the pool do a sort’ve osmotic exchange. As it is, for a moment the HTH commercial feels like it could also be a commercial for paint, but it passes the test because it’s vivid, and somehow, appropriate.
I think a play on the idea of M.Night Shylaman’s movie about a water nymph (living in your swimming pool) could also have worked. The bright networks of chlorine clear water arrange themselves in a bright white nymph that we then come to associate with HTH.
I also like Cell C’s change your network, not your number ad (featuring a row of dwarves with blue numbers on them). It’s a good ad in terms of the idea of number portability, but Cell C, when they have a good idea, seem to fail to be able to run the whole way with it. This ad also lacks a lot of oomph. From the very beginning Cell C needed to shake up the South African market, and all they’ve done is prod us a few times. Vodacom and MTN’s advertising is simply a lot more feel-good, and dynamic, and one of the reasons for this is their clever use of color (blue for Vodacom, yellow for MTN), in combination with a recognizable and likable character or sentiment. Cell C’s ads are nice, but frisbees are not going to knock either of these champions off the podium. Cell C, in the ‘airport’ execution, could have turned the entire interior into Cell C world – a red interior, possibly frisbees flying around outside, and all the familiar faces in the terminal. Except, of course, Cell C still doesn’t have a face in the crowd that we’ve grown to love and associate with their brand. What about a red blooded, sexy South African like Patricia Lewis or Steve Hofmeyr, or Breyton Paulse?


The guys who thought up the latest Powerade commercial must be suffering from a collective mental block. Ice rugby? Er…it is November guys, and we’re heading into summer. There are also no wolves or coyotes in South Africa. Get relevant!
And what does changing a nappie have to do with Dial Direct (automobile insurance)? And the urine squirting in the guy’s face is perhaps not the best sentiment to leave the viewer with.
Windhoek Lager’s ‘I love you baby’ is still pretty weak. It’s better than the golf cart racer, but still doesn’t really work. A better execution would perhaps have the girl aiming for a first kiss and the guy, at the last minute, taking a last swig. Unfortunately, since it’s alcohol we’re dealing with, the ‘I love you baby’ (putting a beer over a person) psychology when pushed does create the impression of a closet alcoholic.


The people at Glasfit probably spent less than a minute dreaming up the premise for this dud. It features a granny in a supermarket who launches her trolley at a gap in a long queue in a supermarket. The trolley fits perfectly in the space. And voila: Glasfit. Terrible!
There’s a Pepsi ad that features a dancing chick and a phone. Is it an ad about a music video, or a new phone, or Pepsi, or all three?
Isca taps is probably the most tasteless series of advertising on TV at the moment, featuring a real estate agent farting in front of her clients (instead of in the bathroom).
The other thing that defies logic is that you’re supposed to use the bathroom for things like going to the loo, washing and bathing. So the idea that it’s just an attractive accoutrement to a home, and one you’d be too embarrassed to actually use doesn’t work. If having [insert product name here] is all about good taste, I’m not sure I get the psychology of using tasteless advertising to market [product name].

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