Wednesday, 24 June 2015

beyond comprehension really

I’m often told, adland’s single purpose is to get a clear and concise product message to consumers so they’ll rush out and buy in frenzy, then I must be in the wrong business. My favourite ad is currently one for a Samsung cell phone and the lead character is totally incomprehensible. Given that it’s Ozzy Osborne that is both understandable and probably a relief, but it’s also very, very funny. Dial it up at:

At least that is supposed to be incomprehensible.

Have you seen the Nivea commercial where a pert young thing lies on a beach towel and thrusts parts of her comely form at her man friend demanding him to name his favourite body part? Besides sounding like one of those female bear-trap questions of the “does my bum look big in this?” nature, it really is facile. She proffers parts of her lithe form up for inspection including one shot up her inner thigh that even for a red-blooded writer is a focal point too far. Finally she comes to rest on her underarm. Now pardon my lack of fetishist understanding, but if that really is her most attractive area then I really am getting old.

Every time it hits the screen my dear art director hits the roof, threatening to put her exquisitely tattooed ankle through her shiny new Sony Bravia in a rage of post-feministic angst. She thinks the line “Nivea pearl extract deodorant gives you beautiful underarms,” is simply designed to give womankind another area to be competitively self-conscious about.

Back in the 80’s when Mr Osborne was making as much sense whether you played his records forwards or backwards, it was fashionable to write ads with animals in them, everything from sheep to elephants and lions to badgers were pressed into commercial employment. And now I fear we may be trekking inexplicably back to those days of stars called Bubbles and Butch. For instance there’s been a lot of talk around town lately about an ad featuring a three-legged cheetah, so I finally hunted it down for a viewing. Now, I know that South Africans have a soft spot for wild animals, as you’ll see any Friday night down The Brazen Head, but this spot really is going too far. In a cross between Jock of the Bushveld and Born Free, an unconscionable amount of schmaltz is laid on with a trowel about the big cat and its missing limb. Eventually we are allowed to dry our eyes long enough to focus on the VW logo and end line: “For the love of the drive.” Track it down at:

Well, all I can say is it’s a shame this feeling of bonhomie hasn’t spread to the sod driving the blue Golf who ran me down in Bryanston last week and drove off.

Ok, so you’re throwing a party but you’ve got heartburn, you rush to the bathroom cabinet, take a spoonful of some relief potion and hey presto, you’re well enough to get on with the dancing. In Adland, of course, nothing is quite so easy. In the wacky world of ads when you take a spoonful of medicine… you get a whole tribe of firemen rushing down your oesophagus carrying a big hose. They then spray the “fire in your belly” with a long stream of white, viscous liquid. You pause, with a post-orgiastic sigh, then turn up your hi-fi to pump out that 80’s “Flashdance” nuisance song, “What a feeling.” It’s a Gaviscon commercial and it really is beyond understanding. Calm yourself before clicking through to:

Of course sometimes an ad aims to mislead on purpose, just for fun as it were. Take the Coke Light spot shot on a sunny beach somewhere exotic, (probably Hout Bay), featuring a buff bloke strolling slowly out of the surf towards a pretty young girl. She sips carefully from a can as he begins to dress in front of her. They eye each other predatorily as they move closer. Finally he pins on a priest’s dog collar and she looks crestfallen. He runs his finger along the condensation from the can and uses it to draw a cross on her forehead. It’s enough to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window, as Mr Chandler once put it. Fall to your knees in approval at:
I think that’s clear enough for anyone to grasp. Probably.

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