Monday, May 21, 2007

And How Not To Do It

Above is a commercial for the new Alfa Romeo 159.

This bejewelled turd consists of a series of generic driving shots voiceovered with a list of utterly banal product benefits (self-ventilating disc brakes? wowzer!) held together with a flimsy, cliched, smug and meaningless premise. (The reason you bought this new Alfa? Because it's an Alfa).

I only mention it because I couldn't help noticing that the brief for this sucker must have been exactly the same as the brief for the totally brilliant Skoda commercial I featured yesterday.

So to me, it's an excellent demonstration of what makes a good TV ad versus what makes a bad TV ad.

Good - emotional sell; Bad - rational sell

Bad - laundry list of product features; Good - say one thing and say it well

Good - highly creative visual treatment; Bad - highly familiar visual treatment

More contributions welcome.

Interestingly, although I now know every feature of the new Alfa 159, I don't have any interest in it. And whereas the Skoda doesn't tell me any of its features at all, merely making a whimsical claim to be "full of lovely stuff" - I'm far more interested to find out what those features actually might be.

My guess is I'm totally preaching to the converted here - nothing wrong with letting-off steam, helps keep me sane - but if there was one individual out there, maybe the Alfa client or someone from the agency, who would step forward and take me on, argue that this ad is better than the Skoda ad, I would love it, just love it...


Anonymous said...

Well you could say the same about some of the audi stuff

Anonymous said...

I'm working with an account director (on a car account) who said the skoda ad is rubbish because it doesn't give her any facts about the car. If i killed her would he judge have sympathy with me?

Anonymous said...

Truth no. 159: It depreciates faster than it accelerates.

Truth no. 671: Rust never sleeps, but in an Alfa it doesn't even get to yawn.

Truth no. 3,564: You will need two Alfas; one to drive while the other is in the workshop.

You're right. They are positing Alfa as a car to buy for no rational reason and the truth is there is no rational reason to buy one.

Further, it's a one-look ad. I could look at the Skoda spot over and over.

BTW, anonymous: an account director would say that. NFI.

writer (theadvertisingagency.blogspot)

Anonymous said...

Compared to the skoda spot, the alfa spot is utter rubbish. Compared to all the other rubbish car ads, well, it might have a chance.

Anonymous said...


Got to call you on thte rational sell = bad.

Boring sell = bad but sometimes rational works just fine - Mac vs PC is highly rational work.

Anonymous said...

good: do one thing in a spot and do it to an absurd degree. and then do it some more.

Scamp said...

most recent anonymous poster - i totally agree with you.

richard h you raise a very interesting point. And there is a huge amount of meat on this bone methinks.

Maybe would be fun to have a public tussle over it, or blogclash, or whatever you call it... are you up for that?

Cleaver said...

OK, here goes:

Scamp, I agree with you that emotion is the most powerful way to sell things, especially major purchases like cars.

Lists of features, while useful, simply provide a rational excuse for the decision you've already made with your heart. (Indeed, the Alfa ad acknowledges this)

That said, we must evoke the right kind of emotion for the the product. The Alfa ad focusses on the romance of the open road and the sex appeal of the machinery. The Skoda ad, while perfectly charming, is cutesy and childlike.

I know which attributes i prefer in a car.

And, assuming for a moment that one's choice of car is percieved as a reflection of oneself, I'm guessing most motorists would prefer to be seen as windswept buccaneers of the open road rather than cheery jam-sponge pilots.

Even supposing that there are hidden legions of motorists out there who secretly fantasise about driving baked goods, without a list of product features (as the account director mentioned in comment 2 so rightly points out) there's no rational support to close the sale.

Right, that's the best I can do. It's obviously a bunch of utter tosh ( for a start, it completely ignores the fact that the Alfa ad looks exactly like almost every other car spot shot in the last 40 years, so there's no real reason to suppose a viewer would even notice it), but i thought someone had ought to put the other side.

Charlie Bass said...

On a different note, try and sneak 'bejewelled turd' into a spot somewhere...great phrase.

Anonymous said...

I can see what Richard means on Mac v.s. PC but I'm not too sure it's purely rational.

It gives a lot of facts yes but in the end they are trying to persuade you with an emotional argument: PCs are just dull.

If you look at Think Small or any other Bernbach ad, they are full of facts but they are delivered in an emotional way.

“You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in. such a way that people will feel it in their gut" Bernbach.

Anonymous said...

blogclash! blogclash! blogclash!

Scamp said...

Cleaver, that is a highly valiant attempt!

And you raise an interesting point. We all agree the Alfa ad is bad. Your question (as I see it) is 'is it bad but right'?

I guess it depends whether there's a bigger market for "windswept buccaneers of the open road" or "cheery jam-sponge pilots".

My view? I'd say the former feels dated, and the latter (in this post-Innocent world) feels more appealing.

Unknown said...

What are the people that matter (the potential purchaser's) of the Alfa and the Skoda to think?

The Alfa male will feel better about all the gadgets, and it certainly looks a fine piece of machinery. The ad, generically lazy as it is, gives information (both verbal and visual) on the product. We see it in motion, we hear from both male and female's on it's virtue's.

It's attempting to allure us with it beauty, and to lure us away from the poor build-quality history this manufacturer (rightly or wrongly) has.

The Skoda advert, technically and creatively clever as it is, asks us to believe that Skoda cars are so good, you could eat them all up. Yummy!!!

The Skoda advert fails, because as much as people equate to it being humourous, it's also disposable. I've asked people if they have seen the Skoda advert, and they say "the cake one?", when we all know the correct response is "the one for the Octavia made out of pastry and jelly?".

If Skoda sold cakes, it would be brilliant. But they don't and it's not.