Claire Beale on Advertising: Susan can be the face of big tummy-tuck pants
Monday 01 June 2009
So, I'm taking a gamble here. By the time you're reading this, you know whether Susan Boyle has just won an extension to her fifteen minutes or whether we've all decided that Britain's got a better, brighter talent.
I don't know, because I'm writing before the Saturday night finale. But I'm still betting that, winner or not, brand Boyle will attract some plump offers from the ad industry. It's a threadbare ad strategy, but celebrities (even prefab ones like Boyle) can still make an ad more memorable than the 1,000 or so other commercial messages it's reckoned we're bombarded by in the average day. Standout from the commercial clutter is the starting point for any successful advertising campaign and right now Boyle is a short-cut to standout.
So in the battle for a competitive edge, there are plenty of companies prepared to pay for a bit of Boyle. They must approach with caution, though. Ad-weary cynics that we are, we can spot a spot of shameless commercial exploitation from the corner of our sofas. And Boyle's charm is her complete unreconstructed shabbiness. The fastest way for Boyle to squander her brand value is to sell it (out) to the wrong sort of advertiser and, in the process, stop being herself.
She might not have Saturday's legs (now on loan to Veet commercials) or Penelope Cruz's eyelashes (starring in an ad break near you courtesy of L'Oreal) but you can see how Boyle could work. Brand Boyle is about no-frills brilliance, it's about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. And when it comes to putting a price on all of that, it's also about tens of millions of people around the world knowing exactly who Boyle is and being interested in her.
So you can see Boyle working with some ordinary but indispensable household brands. Nothing too aspirational – we don't want to be Susan Boyle, do we? Brands that aren't pretty or fashionable but work, brands that under-promise and over-deliver: soap powders, stain removers, bathroom cleaners, they're Boyle brands. How about home hair dye kits, big tummy-tuck pants, dating agencies for mature lonely-hearts? We could all have some fun with this if ad agencies think creatively about the Boyle opportunity.
Before we go further, perhaps we should pause for a moment to consider the possibility that Ms Boyle won't actually be interested in soiling her good name by selling it to the highest advertising bidders. Pause over. As if.
If she plays it right and is well advised, Boyle could earn millions for product endorsements, not just here but – post Oprah – in America too. But such deals are unlikely to have much of a life span, aren't we all already a little over Boyle? The charm is going. Adland needs to act quickly.
Boyle too. She's already too late to leverage her fame in cyberspace with her own-name website. Naturally, canny cybersquatters have registered the .com and .co.uk addresses and created Twitter accounts for most of the Britain's Got Talent finalists.
In fact, the irony is that the Boyle phenomenon – already coming off the, ahem, boil – has so far made nobody much money. Not ITV, who has enjoyed an audience boost of more than 12 million viewers and a fillip for its advertising coffers, but nothing commensurate with the global interest. Not Talkback Thames and Syco, the production companies that make the show.
And certainly not Boyle herself, who has been prevented from any commercial dabblings by the terms of her BGT contract until now. The 100 million-plus web views of Boyle's debut went almost completely unmonetised, quite a scandal for a TV industry that's not only supposed to be digitally savvy but which is also starving for cash. Time, then, for some pay dirt.
Best in Show: Adidas (180 Amsterdam)
This last weekend proved the power of event television. Between the FA Cup Final and Britain's Got Talent, ITV had a stonking Saturday. For footie fans, the event TV ad of the moment is by 180 Amsterdam for Adidas. It's about how Lionel Messi grew up to become one of the best footballers of his generation. It's a tale of the creation of a superhero, told with all the dark gothic style of a graphic novel and narrated by a sinister, hooded Zinedine Zidane. And it's the sort of powerful ad that event television was made for.</1>
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