Good Ad Bad Ad
Monday 13 April 1998
This ad opens on the top deck of a bus full of puppet penguins. Two Liverpudlian women penguins are sitting together on the back seat, with their shopping. One asks the other, "Pick up anything nice?" and her friend replies "Not really." But then, spying a (human) man walking down the bus to take the vacant seat between them, she says, in flirty fashion, "But there's always time!"
The man sits down and opens a Penguin three-finger pack - which this ad is launching - and one of the penguins remarks, "Ooh, look at that! I've never seen one of those before!" Being a gentlemanly sort of a fella, the chap gives her and her friend the other two biscuits in the pack, and all three sit munching contentedly. The ad ends on a saucy note, with the more outspoken penguin asking the man, "How far are you going, love?" - to which he replies, "All the way!"
I noticed this ad while watching TV at home; it really stood out from the others in the break. It's funny, it's appealing, and it builds on the brand's heritage in a very warm way. Also, the product is absolutely integral to the ad - after 30 seconds I knew exactly what it was for, and why I might want it.
The line "P-p-p-pick up a Penguin" is ingrained in the language now - kids in particular love it. But while the line's the same, the penguins themselves have changed. These two in particular are very modern; you half expect to see them in Brookside, having a gossip with Julia Brogan. All in all, it's a very strong ad, with a nice human touch.
This is a black-and-white film, using the song "What a Difference a Day Makes" as a soundtrack. It opens with a rather solemn-looking woman in a cafe looking out of the window at the dullness outside, followed by shots of various other people looking up at the grey sky. Just then, drops of coloured paint begin to fall from the sky, forming little crown shapes on impact (someone obviously had fun in post-production) and suddenly, the screen is awash with rainbows. It all ends with the woman we first saw, smiling now, emerging from the cafe into the newly colourful day.
I think - though I can't be sure - that this is all about how paint can enhance your life, which can be true. But the end-line "Don't Just Paint it, Crown it" is not a reflection of what's going on in the ad. It's a strongly competitive line, but there's nothing in the ad that tells me exactly why I should Crown it rather than Dulux it. Is the woman sitting in the cafe really thinking how grey her living-room walls are? Do the crown-shaped raindrops encourage her to stride off to B&Q to set it right? I don't know, and I suspect that consumers won't either.
The film is well made, beautifully shot and lovely to look at, with, as I said, a strong end-line. But these things do not seem to work together. In the Penguin ad, the product was central; in this ad, it's not. There's a moral in there somewhere.
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