Things I’ve learned about TV ads; courtesy of a Night of the Adeaters

TV ads sometimes get a bad press; often seen, unfairly, as the blind refuge of the creative process.  they're blamed for narrowing creative thought into a pre-determined construct that's allegedly irrelevant in a digital age.

well a night with the Ad Eaters is more than enough to demonstrate otherwise.  what occurred to me last night, as I sat watching several hours of TV ads from around the world, was how perfect the audiovisual short is for communicating a brand – or indeed any – idea.

it's no surprise that the 'TV ad' became the common currency of the advertising agency.  indeed one can't help but think that even in the absence of a broadcast model that reinforced the TV ad construct, the short AV piece would have emerged as the vessel of choice for brand ideas.  forcing clarity, relevance and conciseness, it may come to be seen as the 20th / 21st Century equivelent of the cave painting or Aesop fable.

there was as much joy and pleasure in seeing again BBH's Underwater Love for Levi's (above) or early Smirnoff efforts, as there was in seeing for the first time some of MTV's campaigning work or an Audi ad with a dog chasing a car in the snow…

some other things I learned last night:

  • most of the best ads are for cars.  fact.
  • it's impossible to make a good fragrance ad.  fact.
  • some brands have the right to set agendas and others just don't
  • an audience of ad types loves a bit of worthiness – ads for the UN Development Fund were guaranteed a splattering of applause.  as the lovely Jon A puts it: "the skill of communication is like the skill of swordsmanship: it can be applied in play or in war, for better or for worse".  we collectively aspire – it seems – to do the formers.
  • it's impossible to aggregate ads around a city – "ads set in Paris" just doesn't work as a filter

all in all a very cool evening.  if there's one observation it's that the filtering could have been better.  an evening like that is essentially acting as an aggregator – so Ad Eaters has to work as hard as possible to be the best aggregator that they can be.  not doing so will only undermine future efforts – and contribute to the feeling of watching a very extended version of Tarrant On TV.  only without Chris Tarrant.  and not on TV.

Kudos to the IPA, CBS and Metro for sponsoring, and a big thanks to David at Metro for facilitating…

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