Advertising doesn’t work. I know this true because people are forever telling me it is. Down the Brazen Head there’s always someone willing to drag himself from their Klippies n coke to point this out, usually followed by a lengthy, in-depth and perfectly remembered description of the latest Nando’s or MTN commercial.
As I say, advertising doesn’t work.
It didn’t work way back in the 60’s when DDB launched the VW “Think Small” campaign, making it the most famous car launch ever and reinforcing the Brand as a world-wide icon.
And it definitely didn’t work in the early 70’s when Coke gathered a whole Brady Bunch of America’s best on a hillside and had them sing a basic, but annoyingly memorable version of a chart-topping song under the banner “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.” Sing along at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8H5263jCGg&feature=related
Advertising isn’t serious you see. Everyone will tell you, it sells fizzy drinks and toilet rolls using gawky teenagers and bouncy puppy dogs, it uses sex indiscriminately, and stereo types us all into little boxes of ABC’s and LSM’s. It skims the surface. It makes no real difference to the world.
My own ex-art director, who loves nothing better than a good cause, as long as it has a decent T-shirt attached, goes on about that commercial for the anti-fur trade in the 80’s, shot by Bailey it’s still a beautiful pastiche of the fashion world with a gory and unforgettable twist. It may have only been the very tip of a huge wave of the anti-fur wearing, anti-hunting movement, but it was a powerful tip that resonated with the masses and changed our perception of killing carelessly for a generation. As it said, “It takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat. But only one to wear it.”
Remind yourself of what Adland can do when it wakes up its conscience at:
Advertising is a fly-by-night one hit wonder, it’ll make you famous for your 15 minutes but can’t sustain an image or a personality long enough to make a mark in the collective psyche.
Take the Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” created by writer Bob Winter at DDB Chicago in 1999. It began as a series of 60-second radio commercials paying mock tribute to individual unsung heroes. (The campaign was originally called Real American Heroes but was renamed after 9/11). Since then over 100 different ads have been produced and it has become the most remarked on, memorable and awarded radio campaign in adlands glorious history.
In 2003 it moved to the little screen with the launch of the TV campaign featuring “Mr Really Bad Toupee Wearer,” with Pete Stacker as the announcer and Dave Bickler, of “Eye of the Tiger – Survivor” fame echoing his sentiments in his memorable warble, including the superb line “Mr Stud in a rug,”
Relive it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAJYJ9XJH
Six years on the campaign still goes on with Mr Really, really, really bad dancer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bAKp2amjS4
Such has been its success that parodies abound across the internet, some of which are so good you can’t tell if they are the real thing or not, “Mr Iraqi Journalist Shoe Thrower Guy,” for instance was a timely stroke of genius. Catch it at:
Advertising doesn’t work. It doesn’t fit into boxes of measurable results, despite years of people trying to post-research, post-rationalise and post box the work, most ad campaigns that catch the imagination evade the machinations of mathematicians. According to our American cousins, who love nothing better than a good list, the most famous campaigns ever are Volkswagen, "Think Small", Doyle Dane Bernbach, Coca-Cola, "The pause that refreshes", D'Arcy Co., Marlboro, The Marlboro Man, Leo Burnett Co., and Nike, "Just do it", Wieden & Kennedy.
But, putting aside the Yankee bias, this is a subjective survey carried out in U.S. Adland and not in the hearts and minds of our own dear local consumer. A brief prodding of the guys down the pub brings forth the following list; “Nandos, Tail-Gunner”, “Guinness, White Horses, surfer thingy” and, ‘that Kylie Mynogue one for Agent Provocateur.” Thank god advertising doesn’t work.