Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Top Three Cliches




It is said (by my friend AT) that Larry Barker (former ECD of BMP, and prior to that, WCRS) had only three rules for his Creatives: no chameleons, no mime artists, and no ginger-haired people.

Apparently a team once walked into his office and he blew out their ad before they had even showed it to him, because he could see through the paper that it was a chameleon.

Mind you, this story is a few years old. Maybe the Top 3 Ad Cliches of today would be different. What would you nominate?

110 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something in a bin.

Loads of people making something

Smiley faces

AdLand Suit said...

It barely bears mention, but piggy banks in ads for banks are pretty damn upsetting.

I'd imagine 'astonished onlookers' is currently fairly high up most people's list.

How about creative teams who bitch on blogs about how everyone else's work sucks?

Anonymous said...

Vampires
Northerners
Monkeys (including Gorillas)

mauroman said...

Escher inspired set design.

Anonymous said...

top trumps

Anonymous said...

Animals talking.

Giant versions of everyday objects.

Ridiculously happy staff in suits.

will said...

1) an advert for mobile phones or muesli with a jangly indie singer songwriter singing as lots of young cool people run around a park in the sunshine making a giant 'art attack' style picture of a flower out of blankets


3) any advert that begins with the words ' you're unique' or 'you're amazing'

4) any advert that starts 'we're passionate about....'

Anonymous said...

Jigsaws

Groups of good looking 'rent a friends' in mobile phone ads

randall said...

the "nerdy" looking technology workers.

jeez it's been about ten years since technology professions have become quite desirable, certainly cool, and dare i say glamorous

Anonymous said...

Lots of 'normal' people dancing

Anonymous said...

I think penknives are pretty over-used.

George said...

Any type of advertising that starts with 'because'. It's a terrible cliche, and I hate it.

Showing the building of, or making of something as the ad itself. The finished commercial is one thing, the making of it, it's development, the meetings and the research are not.

Anon 8.40pm
All my friends are really good looking, have a strong jaw line and sparkly white teeth (you know who you are - hi guys). Maybe you just hang out with really fat, ugly people.

Rupert James said...

Adults/children celebrating/winning on the sports field for a P&G or Unilever FMCG.

golublog said...

Why no gingers?

Anonymous said...

tattoos that react to something

shadows

stop-motion-arty-shit-with-no-idea-really

pete said...

Yeah, monkey's are cliche.

Hits to the groin too.

Spikeemikee said...

Stethoscopes, magnifying glasses and life saving rings

Nyall said...

evolutionary timelines

&

CGI graphics to show how shampoo strengthens your hair...

Anonymous said...

Balloons. Folky soundtracks. Black and white ads but with only one colour used (usually red).

Anonymous said...

Something that is normally small but then made big, because it's "funny" when things are abnormally big.

Not so much no.

Anonymous said...

Any headline that starts

"Who said..."

or ends

"....made easy"

Anonymous said...

There can be only one: crowd united by common goal.

Alan Kittle said...

Celebrities, Celebrities and, erm, Celebrities.

Anonymous said...

and...when was the last ad with a frickin' mime artist in it?

rhayter said...

There was a book produced by a Cheshire agency (IAS b2b Marketing) called "101 Clichés" which covers off all the old classics – light bulbs, Swiss Army knives, passing the baton, etc etc – but here are my 3 nominations:

1) Press ads made to look like 1950s B-movie posters. Or indeed any kind of movie poster.

2) Crowds-doing-things-together. Playstation 'mountain' was impossible to better.

3) Lots-of-small-things-put-together-to-make-a-bigger-thing.

mistrybitchbag said...

Flash Mobs

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh - I can't be in an advert as my ginger hair is a cliché.

Lucky I haven't got a soul, so there's nothing to hurt.

Anonymous said...

An object's shadow forming something different.

Anonymous said...

Useless men (usually husbands)

Scripts that start "There is a tyre/deodorant/razor..."

A computer mouse made to look like something else

joelyhatch said...

Myleene Klass

m denton esq said...

I never get fed up with monkeys.

Especially Mandrills.

Anonymous said...

Midgets and monkeys.

Not seen many monkey midget ads though.

GOUT-LEGS said...

BLOG's?

:)

Anonymous said...

anything that has a top secret file in it, or a top 'agent' trying to break into a hi-tech research lab to steal a product that's sooo precious.

Anonymous said...

tokens

8 said...

Lust, fear and envy, in that order.

Terry Yaki said...

CGI cities changing around cars

CGI stuff flying out of peoples homes or offices to make other stuff

CGI wallets flying up

CGI dandelions being blown by people around the world

Anonymous said...

Advertisers doing ads on drugs?

I only mention it 'coz Dave Trott is talking about doing ads on speed on his blog. New poll of the day topic perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Traffic wardens.
Grannys/Old people doing something young e.g surfing.
Any ad that ends with "There is an easier way..."
Any ad that has the line "Size does matter" in it.
Burly hard men being feminine i.e dressing up in women's clothing, crying etc.
Finishing an ad with someone looking at the camera going "What?"

Anonymous said...

I'm with mark.

Monkeys never get boring.

I can't think of a single ad thats ever been made that wouldn't have been a little bit better if they'd included a monkey.

Anonymous said...

Red carpet

Dan said...

Rainbows... also anything falling/rolling/bouncing down a street

Anonymous said...

Parkor, break dancing and skateboarding as the answer to connecting with today's youth culture. Makes be want to go and find the creative team responsible and put them out of their misery.

Bentos said...

"Giant versions of everyday objects."

Christ yes! How many car adverts have had this in the last 5 years?

Anonymous said...

Foxes, Jupiter, spoons.

lawbin said...

a. Swiss knife.
b. Man with briefcase jumping hurdle.
3. Egg with 2 yolks.

will said...

ooh! ooh! Thought of a new one -

any car ad that has jealous people trying to damage the amazing car on show out of spite,

or being amazed to discover that - "what's that? Its a kia picanto? you're kidding me! and there was me, in my tuxedo, stepping out of said car onto a red carpet premiere, all along thinking I was actually in a rolls royce! "

Tom Morton said...

1. People acting a bit comedy in office settings
2. Big outdoor picnic settings
3. Colourful things bursting out of other things

Anonymous said...

road signs
yoga

Anonymous said...

1. A man and a dog in a pub and the dog can talk and the dog says "I fucked your dad"

2. Snuff films

3. Ian Ormondroyd

Anonymous said...

1) Ads which summarise with the v.o:
'there is an easier way'

2) Gorillas.

3) Cars made of cake.

Gareth said...

Perfume ads. Do they shy away from an idea?

Chalky said...

I've done a chameleon ad and I'm proud of it.

@ Anon 12:18 - Ian Ormondroyd? Stix? The man is a legend - how could he ever be a cliche?

George said...

Joelyhatch - Mylene Klass is a pretty lady, she plays that piano like a goddess, and it's a great Daft Punk track, AND she has great hair.

Anonymous said...

advertising agencies are very cliched.

they're just full of walking ones.

Inklid said...

Trying not to be cliched.

Anonymous said...

Let's see it then Chalky.

copyblighter said...

"Discover..."

Camiel said...

Dead insects. Enough with the dead flies on windshields and more surprising places to signify the speed of a product in a print ad.

And newspaper article scraps to prove your point: "See? See? It's in the papers, so it's true!"

And mimes aren't cliche, but just plain creepy and should therefore be banned from advertising.

FishNChimps said...

Cars driving along long, winding, desolate roads.

Carmina Burana or other similarly epic chorals.

Unusually happy menstruating women.

Anonymous said...

Yes but how many times have you seen a script that says:

We open on Ian Ormondroyd.....

that french saying said...

People going inside computer screens. Holy cackbags, they are actually in the interweb.

Footballers being 'real'.

Really good looking people using perfume/shampoo/lotions and running, probably semi-naked, through gloriously massive houses.

Hmm actually...

Anonymous said...

1) A growing bunch of people palying around the city.

2) Whistling tune in a beer or soda bottle

3) The skittlelike weird humor

Chalky said...

@ Anonymous 3:18
It was a Guinness radio ad in the Pure Genius campaign a long time ago. Don't have it handy - but the idea was that Rutger Hauer was having a problem with Boris, his pet chameleon, who kept impersonating his pint of Guinness. He started spluttering and coughing and then told Boris off.

Scamp said...

Well, if it's confession time, I own up to violating one of Bentos's dictums... this car ad with giant objects in it. Yet to use Ian Ormondroyd though.

Badabing Strategy said...

B2b
- Handshakes
- Globes
- Skyscrapers

FMCG
- Ethnic stereotypes, or ironic twists on the same
- Embarrassing web 2.0 bullshit
- Slackers

AdLand Suit said...

Cripes, Scamp - I'll be darned if that isn't a folky soundtrack, too.

I always like that ad. Is it possible to do 'clichés' well, and rise above it?

Anonymous said...

when targetting yoof

Skaters
DJs
Dodgy 'trendy' barnets

what do i win scampi?

Scamp said...

Typical creatives, always wanting to 'win' something ;)

In answer to your question, Suit... I actually don't mind ads with cliches in... just so long as they're overturning the cliche, rather than merely trotting it out again.

For example, the Virgin Atlantic TV ad where the Grim Reaper falls asleep, because it takes so long for his quarry to see his life flash before his eyes, is great. There had been many Grim Reaper ads before. But never with him falling asleep on the job.

Anonymous said...

their is an easier way to....
On the ginger front the exception has to be the kid in the golden wonder skins ads?

Anonymous said...

That kid is fugly.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to Larry Barker?
Nice chap.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.07

I saw an ad a few days ago involving TWO mime artists. Unfortunately it was that shit and I can't remember who it was for. All I can recall is a really cheap endframe.

Anonymous said...

1. cats
2. grannys
3. old people with wigs.

Anonymous said...

Only the ad industry cares about cliches.

The punters who watch the ads and buy the products (and are the only people who really matter) don't care if a technique or image has used before in an obscure venezuelan wart cream campaign circa 1986.

Anonymous said...

Folk music

Strap lines

Folk music

Anonymous said...

'That french saying' @ 4.23...

Loving the phrase 'gloriously massive'. Sounds vaguely
pornographic, as in 'alright saucepot, do want to come back to my place & see my gloriously massive member?'

Chris Arnold said...

Any green ad that uses 'don't just save money, save the planet" or 'won't cost the earth'. There are many others. According to research in the States, believability in ads is as low as 17%, but only 14% for green ads.

Anonymous said...

Jigsaws must be top. I was Stunned when the Economist did it and won a Pencil. Christ!

Also the classic 'It's child's play" to describe way too many things.

Folk music with either clapping or whistling. For the love of F**king god!

Anonymous said...

Print in the style of 1930s Soviet propaganda posters

Bentos said...

Whenever I go abroad all the billboard ads seem to simply be a picture of woman smiling next to the product.

All of 'em.

Not being able to read the copy probably emphasises the similarity.

Then you come back to Britain and notice the exact same thing!

Anonymous said...

Hello. We're innocent.

Anonymous said...

champagne!!

Anonymous said...

Talking about Edward De Bono all the time.

Having long hair.

Rocker Man said...

Ads where the music track comes to a standstill as the needle goes off the record. Done to death.

"Astonished onlookers" taking pictures on camera phones. People aren't that interested.

Anything which purports to be a factory environment - yet shows a happy, clean and mildly interested workforce. An obvious fib.

Larry is doing some stuff with Rooney at VCCP.

Ben said...

Environmentally sound foodstuffs that 'leave a good taste in the mouth'.

Anonymous said...

Revolution campaigns.

Anonymous said...

Missing / wanted posters.

Although that didn't stop one winning a Gold at Creative Circle Gold for 'Lost Cat' for the White Tiger for WWF.

Missing Dog got 'In book' for 'Anything tastes supreme with Heinz salad cream'

And VW's 'missing dog' for the Spacious new VW estate.

Just to prove that Cliches can be great. It depends how they're done.

Anonymous said...

6.52 Piggy banks in bank ads yes, but don't forget the squirrels, and their nuts.

and i'll add the 'there are easier ways to....' (insert whatever you want) ad.

Anonymous said...

my first ever ad was a 'doesn't have to cost the earth' cliche.

the voice of tom baker (the little britain narrator) seems like the biggest cliche right now.

]-[appy Thought said...

Circuit boards as cities

Anonymous said...

Tinned food or bottled drinks where the 'tin', say, is made out of the delicious vegetable or fruit in question.

Done well 20 years ago where the bottom of a bottle of orange juice looked like an orange.

Since then...well...there have been hundreds. That McCann winner last year for example. Bone-idle thinking.

redundant rodge said...

Pretty much everything, by the looks of it.

Anonymous said...

A 'intelligent theme' kids campaign illustrated by kids drawings of complicated stuff, sometimes on a fridge.

Stupid little cunts.

Anonymous said...

I know of a creative director who once said to a young team, 'I generally don't like ads that start, "We open on a Buddist monk"'

Ewarwoowar said...

Dominoes... Ick.

Matt Law said...

1) fake political parties/movements
2) any ad for a boring product that show you the more interesting things you can do with your money
3) websites that pretend they are made of paper (page turning effects etc)

Anonymous said...

Use of Madness songs.

Use of covers of Madness songs

Use of Suggs

Jon said...

I've done a study on this, 101 advertising cliches. You can view it here

http://www.101cliches.com/view-the-101

If anyone has any thoughts on stuff I've missed please fill in the form and let me know what you think.

Jefe said...

I'm sorry but i sincerely believe that your friend is rather prejudiced. Every single idea deserves at least "the thumb rule".
Maybe they would have used a yellow chameleon in a red environment for some clothing product. Or who knows? Cliches are people/objects in certain situations. Without the situation, cliches don't exist.
Or you can call me naive :)

M.M. McDermott said...

Business handshakes.

Closeups of currency.

(Strategically) ethnically diverse groups of smiling children.

Anonymous said...

70s blaxploitation films- or any black guy with an afro.

Like, wow, that's hip!

Anonymous said...

ads that use that guy who did that thing.


that music that has been way overused.

that music by that guy who did that thing that has been way overused.

Anonymous said...

Any ad with

MAPS

MAZES

PRODUCT VARIANT PLACED IN A NEW ENVIRONMENT (like FLORAL scented PENS in a flower bed)

ANY LIQUID FORMING ANOTHER SHAPE

ANY MOTHER SAYING SHE WANTS ONLY THE BEST FOR HER CHILDREN. AS OPPOSED TO MOMS WHO WANT THE WORST I SUPPOSE?

OIL COMPANIES CLAIMING TO CARE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.

AND JUST ABOUT EVERY CAR AD HAS THE SAME ANGLE AND LAYOUT.

Blucheez said...

silhouetted people dancing and jumping in fromnt of a neon colored background, ala iPod ads.

Anonymous said...

hands cupping a sprouting green seedling

Samit Malkani said...

Nice stuff, Simon. Will be following your blog closely now. Mine's here:
http://whatisaninsight.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Cute sheepish children with a speech impediment that makes everyone go gaga "Awwww"

Mums coupled with washing powder, cleavage and a brilliant white results.

Kids going gangbusters over cordial, understandably.

beno said...

Pastiches...

Stock photography...

Hardcore Islamic porn.

Jeffrey Hedquist said...

I've made a collection of cliches to help my broadcasting clients avoid them. To get your very own free copy of “Hedquist’s List of 275 Cliches,” email jeffrey@hedquist.com and I’ll send them. Guaranteed to reduce commercial effectiveness.