Why Great Ads Are Great, But Not Great Enough

a strange thing has started happenning.  I’ve started watching ads.  Sky+ no longer gets to do it’s thing…  it started a few weeks ago, with THAT gorilla ad.  we wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so we re-wound and watch it.  then we watched it again.  thats what seems to have started it all. then last Friday Ugly Bettty was interrupted by the spanking new effort from Fallon for Bravia…  if you haven’t seen it, watch it now…

Play-Doh is a pleasure to watch.  repeatedly.  and thats a heck of a lot more important that how it compares to it’s predecessors.  an argument was made to me yesterday that viewer expectations of the series are now so high that Bravia / Fallon can’t hope to meet them.  that’s unfair; I can’t imagine a level on which Play-Doh doesn’t engage and entertain the viewer.  this emerging trend of me watching ads continued more recently with eBay’s effort.

knowingly retro, clean and fresh, and containing a wonderfully insightful moment where one of the characters looses a bid, this marks a strong start for what is hopefully set to become a long-running platform for the brand…  eBay has a world to play with, ads created in isolation should only be the first and shallowest expression of that world…  this is begging to be transmedia-planned.

another new effort comes from the Post-Office.  the ants – thank God – have gone and been replaced by a sitcom assortment of characters.  again there’s knowingness in the derogatory reference to sub-standard carpets, and then Joan Collins crops up.  all very random but it works…  but it could be argued just making an ad is a very shallow window on this world and brand.  I would love to see what could be done with this concept extended into 5-8 min sitcom-style shorts online…  a Victoria Wood meets Gervais / Merchant approach could create some genuinely entertaining content (above and beyond which the ads could reference, again a nod to transmedia-ness)…

but the trend isn’t restricted to TV.  a lovely press ad for the Peugeot 407 caught my eye recently too…

Peugeot_dps_2the flowchart on the left is genuinely fun and invites you – by playing thru a decision-making tree – to think about what’s important when buying a car.  a simple idea that’s entertaining whilst remaining embedded in the product…  and there’s an intriguing url – http://www.407trustyourinstinct.co.uk/ – which depressingly is not a smarter deeper reflection of the ad but lots of pictures of cars, a product not a brand experience.

and I suppose that this is the nub of all this…  brands are ideas.  and ads are the multitudes of individual expressions of those ideas.  but to end there, with a great ad, is simply no longer enough.  media offers more, and brands deserve more.  the opportunity is not just to make great ads like the above, but to do the smart interesting stuff with and behind them that a 21st Century media landscape permits…

whether it’s communicating the mythology of making the ad a la Play-Doh, or creating and bringing a world to life like eBay (storybooks, documentaries anyone?); or potentially making entertaining content (Post-Office sitcom please), or something as simple as taking that Gorilla ad that sparked this bout of ad-watching, and changing the smallest thing to make the biggest difference…  the below played out just before 8pm on Saturday 13th October, a few minutes before England played France.  if you didn’t catch this watch the ad again – the gem crops up just at the end.  enjoy.

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