My point isn't that the ad is bad though.
It's this: why pay for a celebrity who is so un-famous that you need a super to tell people who they are?
Despite the huge quantities of my life I've spent creating adverts, all the speeches I've given to creative directors... to clients... I had never been able to silence a nagging doubt at the back of my mind... does advertising actually work?
Yesterday I was watching TV with my 3 year old daughter.
When an advert for 'Cheestrings' came on, she turned to me and announced: "Daddy, we need Cheestrings."
There it was, the 'desired consumer response' you see on the brief. It was instant. It was sincere. It was desperate.
Of course, as adults we learn to hide it. Or internalise it. But it's still there.
Does anyone else have secret doubts over whether what we do actually works?
"No-one's teaching creatives to be aggressively creative and no-one's teaching suits to be aggressively suitish... there's a creeping blandness about the business that is dulling the creative edge... The industry needs a bit of standing-on-the-window-ledge aggression from all parties."
Personally, I always believe you're more likely to get your way if you respect people, listen to them, work with them.
But maybe I'm wrong.
So my question today is a simple one - does shouting work?
One possible answer is the lack of start-ups with a commitment to creativity.
The last wave in the UK included shops like Leagas Delaney (that's Tim Delaney in the pic), Rainey Kelly, Howell Henry, Simons Palmer and - more recently - Mother. All great agencies.
The new wave consists of places like CHI, VCCP and DLKW. Very successful business-wise... but their ads smell like three-year old gorgonzola wrapped in a sock.
Plus, no creative start-ups means less pressure on the big agencies to be creative.
Any other theories?
Despite the fact that our agency is winning lots of awards, no one is happy.
There's no money around for pay rises, it's getting harder and harder to get work through, every client is demanding multiple routes...
But no one can think of any other agency they'd like to work at either. "They're all shit."
Is there any group of human beings that whinges more than a creative department?
Sadly, the standard of creativity is rather low.
But I did see one good one the other day (sorry no pic, my phone doesn't have a camera - it's a cheapo model the company gave me...)
This card had no picture of the lovely lady, and no offer of exotic services. But simply the words "I love my job", and a phone number.
Now who says the art of copywriting is dead?
Ford unveiled their new British endline on TV earlier tonight.
It's "Feel the difference."
Ha ha ha ha. "We're different." You are, are you?
Wow - I must go out and buy one right away!!!!
Here's a suggestion for everyone who uses the word 'different' or 'difference' in their endline: why don't you tell us what makes you different? Cheaper? More economical? etc.
Because just saying you're different isn't enough. It says nothing.
Oh and Ford, by the way, you're not different. You're the ultimate conformist.
So your endline is a total muff-up.
At the end of the rather dull article, the following words appear: "Deco trains and performs in UMBRO evolution X clothing and UMBRO Revolution X boots. The technology of the fabrics and style combine to give performers the edge over their competition. To find out more about the latest gear, visit umbro.com or call 0161 492 2222."
Yet it forgets to add "This message brought to you by the marketing robots at Umbro UK Ltd."
Or should that be UMBRO UK Ltd? Though they didn't capitalise the web address... now i'm confused...
Another team here - friends of mine - have written a script for a TV ad. It's an entertaining idea that's very much on brief, and would show off the product nicely. But, how can I put this, it's also silly. Of course, when the account team and the client check the idea against their brief and their target market etc, this problem won't show up.
Shouldn't the final test of every idea be to describe it to a 7 year old boy... to see if he says "but that's just silly"?
You're thinking about a brief when an account man walks in your office and sarcastically says: "Hard at work, I see."
As he's never had an idea in his life he doesn't understand that to think creatively you've quite simply got to put your feet up on the desk (or look out of the window).
No doubt when he comes in and sees me on the phone (talking to friends) or typing (my blog)... that's when he thinks I'm working.
You're searching for that one perfect track... out of all the millions of tracks that have ever been recorded. It's impossible to listen to them all. In other words, you can never be 100% confident that you have the perfect track.
You've got a client whose taste runs the gamut from Katrina and the Waves to KC & The Sunshine Band.
A partner who likes "anything melancholy" (his words).
And a creative director who likes anything - absolutely anything - from within his own record collection.
The only saving grace is that one day I will die. After which, I won't have to look for any more music tracks. Unless of course... that is what awaits me in hell...
(I'd be interested in hearing from someone who does enjoy looking for music.)
OK, so that brief got cancelled. They already have something. Instead, we get a different brief today, for the same client - remember, this is the one that's our agency's most important client, the one that supposedly has our best account team and planners on it. I skim down and thankfully there aren't three propositions in the 'Single-Minded Proposition' bit of the brief. Just the two this time.
Look, all I want to do is write ads and win awards. To do this, my partner and I need to beat all the other teams working on the brief, then the ad needs to be approved by the creative director, the account team, 104 levels of client and 64 research groups, not get fucked up by directors, photographers, editors, actors etc, before finally blowing the balls off the D&AD jury. I don't need all these foreigners entering D&AD making it harder still. The 2006 Nominations just came out. Apparently 61 countries entered. Stop it. Especially if you're American. (The Asian ads I don't mind, they're normally scams or shit.)
When they creative direct a brief they are also working on.
Gee, I wonder whose work they'll pick... mine, or - just possibly - their own?
Screw Iraq. The government needs to take action on this pressing problem.
Interesting report here on a surprise decline in video-on-demand ratings in the U.S. (found via the excellent AdRants).
Apparently only 0.21% of American TV viewing is now time-shifted (which inevitably means seen with the commercials fast-forwarded), down from 0.24%
So VOD won't kill off TV commercials... and I can continue to feed my family. Hurrah!
It's only bad news for "ad guru" Steve Henry of United. All he ever says nowadays is "video-on-demand will change everything" in a "the-end-is-nigh" kind of tone. He will have to think of something else to say now. (Mind you, his conclusion - that we need to make ads people will actually want to watch - is still valid. But then it always was. The 'TiVo of the mind' - people deciding "this is boring, I will stop paying attention now" is nothing new.)