Monday, December 15, 2008

Anatomy of a Turkey

I know some of you are occasionally critical of Campaign, but I think they've really got their shit together this month with a string of well put-together Top 10's of 2008.

However, the only one the Guardian deemed worthy of highlighting was the list of Top 10 Turkeys.

It seems we're fascinated by bad ads.

The Guardian piece attracted over 150 comments - the most I can recall seeing on there all year.

And the TV's Worst Adverts site regularly makes the chart of the UK's Top 10 ad blogs.

However, an analysis of bad advertising begs a very important question - what exactly IS the definition of a turkey?

To my mind, a badly dubbed foreign ad, like the Renault thing at No.3 on the Campaign list, is not a genuine turkey. It's just a badly dubbed foreign ad. Different category.

Similarly, a badly-lit ad with second-rate celebs (e.g. Carol Vorderman loan sharking) is not a turkey either. It's too cheap and scrawny to be a genuine contender for Christmas dinner.

No, surely a true turkey is an ad for which the makers had high hope... followed by great disappointment. It's an ad where you can see a wide expanse between expectation and result, between budget and pay-off, between effort and effectiveness. That's the land where the turkeys gobble.

By those criteria, the Gillette schtick (Campaign's No.1 turkey of the year) isn't really valid... because I doubt the creatives at any point thought it could be good.

What's your nomination?


Anonymous said...

Has to be Ford Orchestra, shirley...

Jam said...

But surely, Picture ( is the prestigious poultry?

...and yet, everyone can recall it. In fact I have searched for it, actually taken the time to look it up, right now. Indeed, I'll probably watch it when I've finished typing this.

Perhaps it's the openness to interpretation that makes 'bad ads' so discussible?


Anonymous said...

If the people stuck watching it think it is a turkey, it's a turkey. High hopes or not.

PH said...

I'll go for the Honey Monster Mighty Boosh homage/rip-off.

Anonymous said...

Surely Berocca Treadmills deserves some sort of an honourable mention.

Not so much for the fact that it was a rip-off (sorry, "repurposing") as for the fact that it entirely avoided the charm of the original by using multiple camera angles and lots of cutting instead of a single take.

Anonymous said...

the spikey-haired suit-clad surfing banker halifax had singing at us all year long. just for karma's sake, WCRS or whoever committed that crime needs be runneth over by vans of no less than twelve tons.

or herpes for the cd, that would be a sufficient outcome as well.

I kid, of course, I wouldn't want to violate scamps free speech enhancements, but the ad does suck.

Anonymous said...

Was the Stella (previous to Mother work) 'flat earth' one done this year?

Too busy to check! Honest.

If it was 2007 or 2006, apologies.

But it still sticks out like a sore thumb.

Anonymous said...

the stella ad with the fireballs and the cliffs and the whole what-the-fuck-was-that thing.I'm picturing a client who would sooner listen to the opinions of some pointless strategy quack than those of a professional advertising agency with a peerless heritage for the brand he's merrily pissing up the wall, probably on the vague say-so of a roomful of eleven-toed jobseekers in darwen.or they did it backwards from the digital, which is at least as dumb.either way, I hope lowe let the door bang their arse nice and hard on the way out.

Anonymous said...

I think for level of expectations to level of being ignored, Sony Foam has to be up there. I don't recall it even being mentioned in the end of year round up and yet it had 'we think this is next Balls/Paint' written all over it.

Ford Paperland?
The new Stella Ad?
AMV's entire output?

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between an ad that tries to be good and fails and 95% of the other utter shite that makes up an ad break. Sony Foam isn't the worst ad of the year. And neither for that matter is the Stella or Ford work. It's just not that great. What was the best ad for a shit client?

Anonymous said...

Come on, it's got to be the orange "I Am" launch work for turkey of the year.Stella flat earth is a huge missed opportunity too.

Anonymous said...

Come on, has to be the orange "I Am" launch work for turkey of the year. Stella flat world is also a huge missed opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say any of those were the worst ad of the year, just the biggest disappointments. Actually, fuck that. It's I am. Murro, Fallon, Kleinmann, Orange...shit, shit, shit, shit.

Anonymous said...

A real turkey should be judged on following a perfectly respectful client reel with an absolute stinker. Everyone's heads should roll. If a client has never made a good ad, a new one shouldn't be classed as a turkey!

Renault's stuff is going down the toilet big time. As is Stella, and the new saatchi Guiness ad which was hugely similar to that old Benjamin Zethaniah

How comes it's much more to slag stuff then praise the good ads?

Oh yeah. I know why.

Anonymous said...


Full stop

Anonymous said...

i think the 6 hour long hovis ad was a pretty big turkey. 'wow breads been around ages'.
'yeah, this is british bread'.
'so what you reckon something on britain through the ages with a bready subplot?'
'spot on, what's the budget?'
'massive, it'll fool everyone.'

Penny said...

There can be only one. Berocca/OK Go "treadmills" *cringe*. I actually have to leave the room when it comes on. Nicking things off youtube was okay when youtube wasn't mainstream. But now it's just embarassing.

Anonymous said...

I have to add my vote to the Orange "I am" campaign. The strategy is weak, positioning them in exactly the same space as their competitors. The execution (particularly the Murro-directed spot, which is just weird) is poor. It feels like a 'graphics' solution, where once Orange used to really stand for a different approach in the mobile market. As much the brand's fault as Fallon's. That's why it's a true Turkey.

Anonymous said...

Turkeys are important because they speak truth to power.

Firstly, they call to account the dreadful Euro-marketers who put badly-dubbed pap on to our screens. Their agencies have lost the fight and they're deaf to any research feedback from the public.

And they do an 'emperor's new clothes' job of pointing out howlers on the reel of otherwise creative agencies. Most agencies can convince themselves that they've made a hit - why else did Fallon do an all-agency screening of I Am in their shiny new reception - so it takes an outsider to puncture their self-belief.

In both cases calling a bad ad a turkey is the only defence against clients or agencies who are deaf to their own bad work. So please don't restrict what counts as a turkey. You're restricting an important public service.

Anonymous said...

Berocca is bad, but they didn't have a history of good ads, Orange did. I think even O2 are doing better ads than orange.

Anonymous said...

I would like to second how bad that Berocca ad is.

1. Stealing something off YouTube is lazy
2. Stealing something that everybody has already seen on YouTube is lazy and stupid
3. Stealing something off YouTube that everybody has seen and making a vastly inferior version of it is lazy, stupid and pure hackery

Plus the song they use sucks.

Anonymous said...

So what about VW everyday. It's clearly a rip off of one of the most downloaded videos on youtube. Is that OK because they spent alot of money on it?

Bentos said...

Considering the strength of the advertising legacy, the last two Guinness ads have to win any Turkey award going. First a whole load of people switching some lights on and off (nothing says tasty pint more than people switching lights on and off eh?) then the godawful gold lycra-clad human canonball thing.

Total arse!

Anonymous said...

Bet there's some research that says the turkeys are incredibly succesful at shifting product. Come on now, let's all stop pretending, it's time to face the awful truth. Shit ads work. We're wasting our lives.

Anonymous said...

Stella flat-earth thing was complete turd.

But I thought it was done by Mother, not Lowe???

As already said, a turkey is taking a brand like that with a reel of sheer class and thinking that flat-earth was a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be easier to choose adverts that weren't Turkeys...

Whats happened to our industry?

Anonymous said...

"Surely Berocca Treadmills deserves some sort of an honourable mention."

For some reason, this reminded me of the Smooth FM rip-off from sleeveface. When kids were doing it, the idea seemed cheeky, fresh and fun, the result of them finding a new, funny use for Dad's old vinyl. Then it became simply a dull campaign done by Dad himself with a dreadfully laboured headline.