Hertz and Avis fought it out decades ago, it marked the rise of witty advertising that gave credit to the intelligence of the average punter, thank you Bill Bernbach and all you ad pioneers… So this Audi vs BMW campaign is a really nice trip down memory lane for me! Read more about Hertz vs Avis on this blog
Helping family to move house a couple of weekends ago – yes, this is one more reason why I am so inactive on my little blog at the moment – I came across a couple of brand items that struck me as amazing.
Player’s Navy Cut (a cigarette brand part of Imperial Tobacco) has had a very different marketing approach than cigarette brands of today.
“The sales of Player’s Navy Cut Cigarettes for the past twelve months show a substantial increase over the preceding twelve months. Here is definite proof that “It’s the Tobacco that Counts,” and that “Quality will Tell.”
You don’t read that in the papers these days! Nor do you read “very gratified to have given so much more pleasure” on a cigarette advert – in fact, you don’t see cigarette ads any more… which also means that Swan had to change their brand strategy:
“The smoker’s match” seems dated for more than one reason. I spotted this Swan ad on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7gWAdy7Jwg Swan Vesta, now part of Swedish Match, has a bit of a hard to believe vision, considering the industry they are in, but it shows that even the most unlikely products can adapt to a changing market:
It’s perhaps a bit of a crass example illustrating the importance of keeping your brand current and relevant to trends in the market, changes in technology and in perception.
A brand health check is just as important as keeping track of your finances, your insurance, policies and business strategy. And as in most areas, working on your strategy a little bit frequently avoids having to consider a drastic shift in positioning because the brand and its vision have lost their ways.
We must be a nation in love with sport at the
moment. Last year’s Olympics are still a relatively fresh memory,
Andy Murray did us proud at Wimbledon and all is not lost yet for
the football, either. I get that celebrities are powerful brand
endorsers and can add to the image enormously – but what Santander
has to do with it is still a mystery to me. I find their sports ads
this year just as contrived as the bank account raving ones with
Lewis Hamilton last year. Throwing anames at a brand campaign does
not guarantee it will be memorable for all the right reasons. Note
to self: must research some good examples of where it works well
for a brand. After my holiday. And without thinking about
Santander’s iPhone app.
My advertising tutor at Central Saint Martins always talked about ‘ness-ness’ of things, about finding the essence of a subject matter and then visualising it in an engaging and simple manner. (Hello Clive!) Such adverts or brand messages have an innate honesty within them which may be the reason why they are often far more successful than complicated (and convoluted) displays.
This banner stand reminded me of the ness-ness tutorials. Using stamps to carry messages seems rather apt for the post office and whilst it’s probably nothing to shout about, the banner design feels appropriate and invites being read. We like!…
I know that when you really look hard, everything has been done before in some way, shape or form, and the challenge of creatives is to come up with new and innovative ways to use a set number of visual devices us people are familiar with to communicate in an engaging manner, but it does strike me as strange when a big brand like McDonald’s uses literally the same device as another big brand (albeit in the pet food market) to advertise one of their key products.
Looking at the advert for McDonald’s chicken burger, I am not convinced that it actually works as a brand or product advertisement. It is neither here nor there in terms of emotion and message. Surely if you stuffed your face with a chicken burger in a delightful frenzy, the packaging would look worse for wear with eager fingers dipping in?
I know that you can’t always avoid repeating visual devices, in this case origami, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that as such, if executed in an innovative way or used to tell a new story, be relevant and fresh.
Looking at this ad for Colhogar, I am not sure the connection with tissue paper for runny noses is really evident. And if you ever tried to actually make origami out of these type of tissues, it is nearly impossible and frustrating because of the softness of the paper (now here is a thought that might actually show a benefit of the paper to the consumer who might prefer the message of ‘too soft to be stable’ for their noses).
This Greenpeace advert is another origami example, the connection being the ‘wasting paper kills more than just trees’ but the visual execution is somewhat missing some warmth or depth.
This bank’s strapline is ‘multiply your money’ but it beats me why they used birds instead of animals we naturally associate with rapid breeding (rabbits, anyone?).
I also don’t quite get this advert for Rexiine House. I don’t even know what the connection is to their brand, what they do, why I should care. Perhaps this is simply an unlucky find because they are an indian company and won’t have exposure here.
The adverts below for Western Union also use origami, but I do like what they have done with it. Unlike the ‘multiplying’ advert, they used the essence of the bank notes themselves to create a connection between money transfers and the human aspect as well as the distance and cultural differences. It shifts the brand message from being a financial transaction to being a human interaction. Nicely done.
I wonder how the McDonald’s chicken burger campaign will work for them. Perhaps they have planned a whole interactive origami media campaign with in-restaurant tutorials and bespoke packaging with instructions to bring the rather unsubtle copy of the Whiskas adverts to a better live… but why do I doubt that?
I mused about this strap line from petrol brand Esso not long ago in this post and when I filled up at the very same station where I first came across the slogan, I had to smile when I saw this new info sheet hung on each petrol pump, advising that advanced fuels are not sold at this station. It’s just one confused brand message in my mind. What do they sell now? Normal fuels? Advanced fuels? And what does the strap line have to do with it all if not the obvious?
I wonder who made them clarify – and I wonder how long they will stick with this in my mind saying a lot without saying anything really tag line of Esso.
Perhaps the tiger will be back in our tanks sooner or later – or perhaps these days animal rights campaigners will have to say a thing or two about this as well…
… or so it seems to be in the case of this portuguese ice cream advert.
When it comes to photography, the model is just as important as the product – and in a case like this, the pose and gaze they are shot with can really influence and change the message intended.
It may not have made us purchase their ice cream, but it certainly made us stop and smile!
Of course this is another very subjective matter, but it struck me as odd to see this advert promoting Birmingham City University courses. In my mind, teaching is about communication, facing each other, learning from each other – and in this poster, they seem to be saying that you become the best when you don’t look at each other. It may be that the visual won’t work as well because the lines of the cogs and conveyor belt would go across the eye area of the heads, but then perhaps they should have thought of a different way to show this message.
This graphic doesn’t work for me and if anything, the visual makes me doubt that they have the right courses on offer that will be stimulating, engaging and empowering – it just feels wrong, whichever way I look at it.
There have been a number of blog posts about Bob Geldof’s campaign with Maurice Lacroix and how those two brands go together. They even made a video clip – though in my mind it doesn’t really help change the perception that Bob has perhaps gone for the bucks rather than the ethos.
This blog post by merrick describes the moral dilemma rather nicely.
There is however another issue in this – one where I question the watch brand’s choice to use Bob Geldof as their ambassador – and the main question why they could not manage to create a better image of him representing their high quality products! Greasy hair, bags under the eyes, unhealthy looking skin, a rather cynical look – the whole poster shouts everything other than individualism, integrity and high quality.
Perhaps they are appealing to an audience I do not understand but it would put me off considering their watches as desirable no matter what the price tag.
Here is just one of those nice ads that don’t try too hard and don’t try to be too clever, either.
I love the typography and the feeling they don’t take themselves too seriously, either. The Virgin brand at its best. Talks the language and has a light feel around it. Shame they still send me unsolicited mail every week which is irrelevant to myself and puts the brand values down a notch in my own mind.
I came across this advert and I think it is another great example for using the language of a brand to get across the brand message. It’s simple, it’s not trying too hard and it even reminds of one of those student briefings for coming up with the essence of a brand and using it to create a memorable ad campaign.
Entertaining. And true to itself. I’d never drive one, but if I ever should need a cross country vehicle, I will probably start by looking at their brand.
… In the case of Wayne Rooney, some may say that brand personality may be debatable compared to David Beckham or Stevie Gerrard, but he has undeniably an amazing followership on twitter and the brains behind him to make money from his brand.
Turns out, a lot of other celebrities have done the same and that kind of endorsement has been debated by the ASA and in the case of a tweet relating to the NIKE campaign, he has been asked to change/remove the sponsored tweet.
In an article the BBC writes:
“This is relatively new territory for us as a regulator,” ASA spokesman Matt Wilson told the BBC.
“People are experimenting and using Twitter to reach consumers, but the same advertising rules apply. It’s an ongoing process and this illustrates the care firms must take.”
It is an interesting development and perhaps a sign of things to come as commerce exploits people brands as key influencers on social media. It also makes me wonder if such strategies will be a long-term success for both sides; the celebrity and the consumer brand. Either may be taken less serious or be seen in the wrong light when the true motivation behind brand endorsements is made obvious.
It does seem a logical way to use influencers to evoke desirability and connect a product or service with a certain status – but in my mind this works much better when it is not as obviously doctored or orchestrated as the Tag Heuer watches ad campaigns.
On the whole though I agree with Ed Aranda, cited in an article about the twitter endorsement issue, that people should be grown up and wise enough by now to understand those new emerging adverts and to take them for what they are – an invitation to pay to join the tribe of the endorser but by no means any more forcefully than all the other marketing surrounding us daily.
If you didn’t know this brand, you’d be none the wiser having read this advert. It is as such a lovely example for why this type of advertising can only work for established brands or those who can pre-empt or follow-up with a campaign that creates the connection and link to the brand and product.
It also showcases how it has become common practice for companies to utilise charities to make a statement, show that they care, support and ‘give back’ — the essence of corporate responsibility.
For this particular brand it works because it doesn’t try too hard, it doesn’t even attempt to obviously mix this fundraising initiative with messages about their product directly, and it visually speaks the language of the brand, adding to its story and its roots rather than trying to be controversial/contradicting for the sake of some short lived attention.
Even in their choice of charity, the brand positions itself among a certain demographic and engages without pushing the product directly.
That’s the magic adverts as good as this one come with in the long-run.
Something to aim for…
The Diet Coke brand s on the move. A few months ago it was London Fashion Week.
Now it is the launch of the Jean Paul Gaultier bottles for diet coke that is in the news. The ‘Madonna’ inspired designs position the brand as a cool accessory, which reminds me once again of the FiloFax strategy to use a designer to create a special collection for the rather traditional brand.
When looking at the different bottle designs and musing over the undoubtedly super versatile history of the brand, I remembered a scene from Strictly Ballroom that may have been the brand’s first exploration of the fashion subject – check out the socks! Almost as eccentric as the ‘The Cure’ Love Song where they have socks hanging up in a cave.
Here is a video of the whole scene. Obviously unintentionally, in light of the news and fashion hype surrounding the brand this just makes me smile.
Just a quick one really. I am not a regular TV advertising watcher, but when I came across the recent B&Q ad, I thought it is a great example for the difference between big brand advertising and direct response adverts.
The ad focuses purely on the emotional connection with the brand. Helping you say ‘I did that’ is such a strong summary of what a home improvement company can strive for. It works because we all know that B&Q is about DIY, about paints, wood, screws and wallpaper, about tools and garden accessories. If we didn’t, the ad may look pretty, but we’d be missing out on all those messages that describe what B&Q actually offers.
I like this ad. It’s very simple, very local and very clear. It’s the kind of direct response advert that tries to be a brand advert without being too clever and without losing the message. What I like most about it though – and I have no idea if this was intentional – is the fact that, as my dear husband pointed out, for the past few months there has always been a glasses ad there from Specsavers or Vision Express
Whether it was an intended pun or just pure coincidence, it is still a good example of brand advertising that works. And whilst I am not saying that the colours, the type, the logo or the ‘glasses oval’ are the best this business can do for its brand, they have achieved a clearer message than a lot of ads I have walked passed on that corner.
I recently came across an article written by a marketing expert that suggests SMEs spending time and money on branding really are wasting their time. As I read on, I realised that he may have simplified the subject and based his conclusion on comparing brand advertising versus direct response advertising as parts of a marketing strategy for SMEs.
Pretty much all major fashion, lifestyle and consumer goods brands practice a mixture of both, but we probably mostly remember them for their brand advertisements. Distinct imagery, a clever tag line, sometimes just an image and a logo – welcome to the very different sibling of direct response advertising.
It’s an investment. It’s not instant gratification. It’s hard to track and hard to justify, but it seems to be working for the big boys. So why shouldn’t SMEs do the same?
Brand advertising is not meant to sell a product or service directly to a potential customer. Brand advertising skillfully nurtures potential buyers by keeping your name and what your business stands for in the mind of the consumers so when they eventually get to make a buying decisions, your brand is one of the few they will consider.
As such, it may take months for a campaign to show results. Equally, it will take repeated appearances of adverts – but in my mind most importantly, companies that successfully use brand advertising have spent years if not decades building up a public perception of their brand and their values so now they ‘simply’ have to reinforce this perception and introduce the next generation of customers to their brand.
I believe this is the major reason why it won”t work as effectively for local SMEs as a means of getting new business. Even if you had the money to place large double spread adverts in the local paper with little more than your logo and strap line on, chances are, people just won’t know your brand enough to understand.
A Case of Benetton
In 1993, clothing company Benetton launched a campaign for their new range featuring images such as a ‘branded’ HIV victim, a newborn, a guy on death row, a dying seagull bathed in black oil, soldier’s graves – basically anything you and I may consider boarder line fascinating / scandalous / tasteless.
Benetton have continued over the years to use their brand to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. They are doing it again now with their ‘UNHATE‘ campaign featuring politicians kissing. Somewhat easier to digest than those older campaigns, they still use shock to create attention for their brand.
However, they don’t exclusively advertise like that. There are also specific sub brand advertising campaigns featuring clothes. Brightly coloured, fun and happy – a stark contrast to their other campaigns.
What Benetton have achieved is to create an almost instinctual understanding within us about what they represent. This didn’t happen just by placing a series of brand adverts. It’s the result of lots of background activity to instill their values and opinions in the public mind – be it on the environment, RFID technology and Turkish child labour or denim sand blasting practice.
Without the strength and backup of a global advertising campaign programme that runs over many months and communicates your business clearly to the masses, your money will probably be better spent in a more direct approach to gaining new customers.
I guess one way to distinguish direct response from brand advertising is the more explicit connection between the advert and the product or service. There may be an offer or incentive, there may be a clear call to action, a listing of features or a value proposition and a strong emphasis on communicating the selling points/differentiation from competitors.
That does not mean it has to be or appear boring, with lots of copy and little ‘white space’ to let the brand identity speak as well as the product. There are some amazing direct response campaigns out there and the web hosts perhaps far more than print advertising at the moment because of the immediacy of possible reactions a mouse click away.
Out of the Question
Going back to the earlier statement of branding being a waste of time for SMEs, I think nothing could be further from the truth. (I have actually just recently written about why I believe SMEs should bother to spend time and money on branding.)
Whilst SMEs may benefit easier and more measurably from response-driven advertising, it’s the branding activities that do the heavy-lifting, that establish a business in the mind of the consumer, influencing buying and response decisions.
Relying on direct sales marketing alone is short sighted. You only need one new local player on the market who is mastering their brand management and without having invested in creating loyalty to your brand, they have every opportunity to take over your position.
A thought-through strategy to get your business present on the market and positioned where you want it to be is as important as the right mixture of branding and marketing activities. You may not be a global brand, but there are lots of local small business brands that shine and there is no reason why yours can’t be one of them.
McDonald’s and Burger King may be the fast food super giants that open new restaurants here, there and everywhere (1,300 McDonald’s restaurants are planned for 2012 – see article in RTT News), but they are brands that are still culturally controversial and their acceptance is debatable.
Here is just one quite refreshing sign that family life and fast food don’t go together – Maxxi is Thuringia’s largest softplay centre with a lot of footfall from toddlers, school kids and their parents. What’s significant is that other food is allowed, so the ‘discrimination’ is clearly brand specific.
It will take more than adding some green and some poignant advertising slogans to change the perception of those businesses and their culinary value.
It has been reported that Adam and Jane are to be dropped as the characters of the BT commercials. The family campaign was launched in 2005 and the actors have since been part of 40 ads together – sharing life, move house, break up and get married. A summary of the story so far…
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOmdapO7BME&w=560&h=315] The first ad
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ4LylqQ0_w&w=420&h=315] Heart to Heart
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5bkniCUAow&w=560&h=315] The little Surprise
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_tGduIg-S0&w=560&h=315] The Big Day
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze6z9bY5790&w=560&h=315] The Wedding Dance
Oooh, they will be missed! Back then, it was such a refreshing concept for a brand ad campaign. It evolved with new technology and social media to engage customers; quite a case study.
It actually reminds me of another all time favourite – from the Yellow Pages – though theirs was sadly just a one-off.