I know, I know…some categories of advertising are hard to make palatable (let's agree now that almost every expression I use in this post is going to have some opportunity for sniggering or ambiguity).
But first - this ad (from McCann in Singapore) - holed up in a dark place a number of brown figures are seated (and not a stool in sight). One marks the days of their confinement on the wall. They huddle round a vent or shaft…wait, is that what I think it is? A sphincter? Are they turds?…
Yes and yes. This is potty humour. Whether it is potty humour of the highest order or the lowest - I couldn't possibly know.
I assume that, even in the land of excellent spicy food, some Singaporeans suffer from constipation.
I know that in the healthcare category a lot of the advertising definitely suffers from constipation. It can seem so forced that every product has either a bizarre and, sometimes, unfathomable metaphor that an art critic with a degree in semiotics would struggle to decode; or the ads simply show a product with a member of the intended audience hallucinating about having the most fabulous time of their lives.
If there is one thing I know about healthcare advertising it is that any message's salience is mostly a matter of time.
Let me give you an illustration. When we were developing the Family Health Diary brand my colleagues and I were routinely mocked (that's right - mocked - there were even parodies on broadcast TV). "This stuff is so terrible…" And yet brands that featured on the platform routinely outperformed both their prior sales and increased category share - sometimes dramatically.
Here's what happens: a remedy for a problem it is little more than interesting if you don't have the problem.
Given the world is filled with distractions you will either ignore or mentally note then forget the message. The former scenario is more likely ("oooh, cat video, funny…like and share.").
If, however, you have been cramped up with constipation for…let's just say 'a while'…then the presentation of Ducolax with the promise of being able to retake charge of your entire life will be like manna from heaven (because I think that is a subtext of this ad - projecting a feeing of entombment - the cause and the effect are the same). When you suffer from a chronic health condition you will be highly sensitive to information about that condition. When you were on the brink of trying 'anything', a snake oil colonic, leeches and lychees - salvation came in a box. Someone once invented a term for this - apertures of receptivity (no sniggering in the back).
Here it is - your Friday Frolic.
The first ad agency I ever worked for was called Brown Christensen & Associates. Pretty much forgotten now. But in their day they were an important independently owned kiwi firm. They famously introduced Coruba to New Zealand and made it a best seller - and New Zealand the only country in the entire world that preferred dark rum to white rum.
I joined as a production assistant - doing analog work that doesn't exist today: filing and retrieving transparencies, making bromides for finished artists to paste down onto layouts, marking up type, checking galleys…it might as well all be in Anglo Saxon…meaningless in the digital era. I finagled my way into the creative department by teaching myself to render and by leaving my layouts out in plain site of the principals of the company.
Brown Chris were a plum that was riope for the picking - we served clients like Amex, Panasonic/National/Technics, Fisher & Paykel, NZ WInes and Spirits…DDB came knocking and bought the agency. As part of the indoctrination there was a copy of a book called Remember Those Great VW Ads. Brown Chris were bought and I was sold. I still have the book somewhere - I read it over and over, copying the writing style.
The presentation I've put together is the fist time I've used SlideShare as a maker, rather than a consumer. Thought I'd translate the classic parody by Fred Marley and Hal Riney that I used to share with my advertising students at Massey University school of design. Study it carefully. And remember it next time you just want to add a little tweak or apply some cockamamy rule or convention to a product or an idea.
No doubt about it - the new Steinlager pure ad is nicely crafted. The cinematography is beautiful, the editing restrained and elegantly simple…the sound design is interesting (though I suspect it was the one bit that has lots of 'marketing' fingerprints on it - it seems to want to cover bases - like 'Kiwiness', 'Internationalism', exposition (Bahamian accent).…
But for all of that - is the ad a success? To be fair - success is something to be judged after the event - not at the beginning of the campaign - so, for now we have the back story:
The diver is William Trubridge - he is a world champion freediver from New Zealand. He trains in the Bahamas
The brand manager at Lion says the connection between the company's sponsorship/the ad is: "symmetry between Trubridge's poetry for his sport and the simplicity of Steinlager Pure, which contains only four New Zealand sourced ingredients - water, barley, hops and yeast."…""The way William describes his sport underlines the parallels in his pursuit for purity with our own Steinlager Pure. No extraneous ingredients, just absolute simplicity at its best, from the world's purest place. And, like William, Steinlager is uncompromising in its quest to be the best lager in the world."
DDB, the agency behind the ad's creation and production say ""'Keep it Pure' reflects how New Zealand's isolated location provides Kiwis with a unique perspective on life, one that is fresh, independent, original. It also embodies the mindset of a challenger with an uncompromising hunger for excellence.…". They also draw parallels between Trubridge and Ed Hilary.
Like Hilary before him and Trubridge the Steinlager brand has had its ups and downs. We featured a story in the early days of Idealog about it - which might still be worth a read. It used to be an iconic kiwi brand. But the beer market has changed dramatically since Steinlager was in its prime. Beer consumption been battered by wine, cider, craft beer, brewery ownership and the proliferation of both international brands and local flavour of the month offerings. Steinlager as a product got a bad rap as hangover beer (though if you drink enough of any beer you'll get a hangover). The brand dialed back its sponsorship of the All Blacks - or couldn't afford the price to be associated with it on the international stage - and introduced Steinlager Pure to respond to the market's trends and fads.
One other dynamic that can be hard to fathom from the sidelines is the effect of a message on the trade. Sometimes a brand like Steinlager Pure needs an injection of ad capital to convince the retail and wholesale trade that the brand is worth their continued support. Retail shelf space (on and off premise) is where the rubber really hits the road. The ad campaign becomes brand news - something for the reps to talk about and maybe something to wrap a promotion around. The Steinlager website and Facebook pages are certainly restrained. It could be a foray into 'content marketing' - though it doesn't seem to be part of the kind of orchestrated event like Red Bull's coverage of Felix Baumgartner's space jump.
Does it mark a resurgence of Steinlager to its former glory? Don't hold your breath. It may simply be disappearing into a black hole. Though, when the ad first appeared, I was intrigued and watched it to the end. And it is a refreshing change from beer cliches and Godfreys vacuum cleaner ads shouting at you.
Leave a comment - what do you think?
It seems that an aircraft carrier is just the perfect place to act out a fantasy.
This ad for BMW's M4 Model gets past the rules about showing a vehicle performing death defying stunts on the highway - do it on the high seas.
Of course it's not real - but then buying an M Series BMW doesn't mean you're going to test it anywhere near its performance limit…anywhere…ever.
So the whole premise is a fantasia of wishful thinking - not unlike another setup on an aircraft carrier deck.
I'm not sure what the message is here, so let me posit some alternatives:
Actually, forget it - it is what it is. YouTube bait for the BMW brand.
In case you wondered those killjoys at the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority have a specific code standard for vehicle advertising:
Advertisements should comply with the laws of New Zealand.
1(a) Advertisements should not demonstrate any action by any road user or vehicle on a public road which would constitute a traffic offence, unless the advertising has the aim of discouraging unlawful practices.
There's something to be said for Newcastle Brown Ale - unfortunately it's not 'mmm, nice beer.'
But it's amusing that they have created an adorable little campaign with comics not doing their best work and b-list acrtresses doing their best in an internet campaign - because they can.
I felt this was appropriately a little flat and lukewarm.
And why go to all that trouble to be vulgar then bleep out the bleeping vulgar bits?
And now the educational part.
This is a description of newsjacking.
A sweet suite of channel branding idents for France 3 (produced byCube Creative).
I used to love the BBC's onscreen identity. It was engineered mostly by Martin Lambie-Nairn who began his career at the Beeb when it was all rostrum cameras, showcards in black and white or a statuette of a knight rotating magnificently on a lazy Susan (Martin's work kicks in on this vid at 2':20"). When computers became accessible for animation (before they were called 'motion graphics') Lambie-Nairn developed the iconic Channel 4 branding with its 3D graphics that seem quaint now but were much admired in their day and have had anenduring influence on the craft of TV branding. Perhaps it was the BBC that benefited most from ML-N's approach -especially their BBC2 work - which was even copied here in NZ by TV2 - but the less said about that the better.
So why bring these French idents to your attention?
Well, aside from their whimsical charms and lovely production values - I rather like the fact that they seem utterly existential . the channel is a general one that looks very much like TVOne here in NZ. The items promise nothing, they don't let you know the channel is for you by depicting idealised versions of you (avatars?) having a lovely time as part of some fantasy community while the real you sits about in your boxers and a t-shirt wondering if the yoghurt you just got from the fridge is still edible although the pottle foil is ajar.
Channel IDs are high rotation. They are seen time and again. If they mean nothing to begin with then you can scritinise them until the cows, or elephants - if you prefer, come home. It doesn't matter. You will see what you like and, I suspect, like what you see. If you were to decry them as 'silly', then the maker may simply reply 'merci'. If you see them as a post modern analysis and commentary then, perhaps, you too are correct.
It all reminds me of an interview I once saw on TV (or in an apocryphal dream because I have never been able to track it down) where the marketing guy from Dior explains the business plan for LaCroix.
"We had a five-point plan…" (imagine outrageous French Accent).
"Point one: Exist…"
"Point two: Be Famous…"
And that was it.
We have a new project underway that needs the kind of call and response skills needed to create highly engaging automated marketing campaigns. If you know products like Infusionsoft or Hubspot inside out get in touch.
If you are New Zealand company that does this for a crust and can collaborate they feel free to respond too.
One of the things that separates winners from losers - in a fickle world that doesn't always play the notes on your score the way you like - is the ability to adapt.
Mick Jagger laments the revival of Monthy Python - who wants to see a bunch of wrinkly old geezers.
Stand by for the market assault of DVDs and TV shows made from the live events at the 02. A vinyl release for old time's sake maybe? A little merchandise sir?…
This could be big.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.