Good Ad Bad Ad: Robert Bean
Monday 09 February 1998
There a few executions in this campaign, but the one I particularly like - it strikes a nerve in all of us who are in this business and still married - is this story of a young couple. They're walking towards us, clearly going home, and the man is carrying take-away food. They look in a restaurant window to see another couple having a romantic, candlelit meal, and the woman, in particular, is very upset.
We then get five or six different vignettes, each with a different kind of take-away food, with a different couple in the restaurant. In the last scene, the guy is walking home on his own with his take-away, and looking into the restaurant to see his girlfriend having dinner with another bloke.
It sounds predictable, but on the first viewing you're not quite sure what's going to happen, so you stay with it. And at the end you've got this killer line: "Don't put it off - put it on", a brilliant injunction to spend, spend, spend.
The casting and direction are good, it's witty, and it gets the message across clearly. And, with its "you only live once" message, there's real depth to it. But it's done in a charming way - especially for a financial services institution. The holy grail for them is to find a human and emotive way to advertise, and this agency has pulled it off. Long may it run.
This ad is also a series of vignettes. We see what I think is a builder, who suddenly stops what he's doing and says: "I need a ...", before it cuts to a nurse. She's running around, then she stops and says: "I need a ..." I think what this ad is trying to say is, "Whatever you need, call us." But who are "us"? Scoot is a new name for what was Freepages, but if you don't know that, there's absolutely no clue as to what Scoot is. That's a pretty important failing.
Also, the acting and direction are dreadfully wooden. And the vignettes are badly cast; the guy playing the builder, for instance, looks nothing like a builder.
This ad is done by Wolff Olins, and I think it screams design company, because it looks as if it should be on paper. The backgrounds to the sets are thin, and the whole thing is one-dimensional. There's no texture, no subtlety, in the scriptwriting and film-making. Given the fact that it's a design agency, that's perhaps unsurprising; they might be more comfortable on a flat canvas than in TV.
Finally, they spend a huge, disproportionate amount of time at the end on a complicated sequence of stripes and squiggles that end up making up the logo, as though that is in any way entertaining or necessary. Wolff Olins is a fantastic design group, but they really ought to stick to what they're good at it.
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