Good Ad Bad Ad
In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Tom Hudson, creative director of the agency BST- BDDP, opts for Wrangler's broken legs over Delta's leg room
Monday 02 June 1997
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
This is a departure for . It's a famous brand which retains a great deal of market value, but there's been no substantial, coherent advertising for it in the past five years or so.
Now it's trying to put its house in order, for Levi's and other jean companies have stolen the march. And so we have Jason Maddox, 22, listing a catalogue of injuries he's sustained as a rodeo rider. In his thick Arkansas accent, he details variously: cartilage separated from his ribs, his shoulder pulled out of its socket, two busted legs ...
Strategically, this ad really takes back into territory it owns - that of the original cowboy jean. This advertising will really start to give the brand some value, and make 's a pair of jeans with a provenance again.
The makers have done exactly the right thing, and have made an ad that talks first and foremost to opinion-formers. It's hard, real, and gritty, with a grunge-guitar soundtrack - and without the gloss of other American- inspired jeans advertising. This isn't a pale imitation of a Levi's ad: it is, as they say at the rodeo, very much its own beast.
It positions very clearly as authentic American workwear. They've got the next 10 years of their advertising wrapped up if they explore the provenance of "the cowboy jean". They've made a good ad now, and there are great ads to comen
Delta Air Lines
Saatchi and Saatchi
The ad is a series of vignettes trying to promote all of the service benefits of Delta, each one featuring an individual traveller. It's all set inside a bizarre-looking 747, with each person apparently having the plane all to themselves.
The problem is that in trying to say everything it says nothing. Delta says it treats you "like an individual", but I just don't believe it. Club-class flyers know the realities of air travel, yet this commercial still tries to make out how comfortable and stress-free 14 hours at 35,000ft is.
The film looks so fake. It's shot in a studio, with fake sky, fake businessmen and the obligatory "extra leg room" shot. Net result: fake promises. And then there's the end-line, "On top of the world" - the aviation equivalent of those hairdressers who say "We're a cut above."
Where the film is so single-minded, this doesn't even get near to owning a territory. It doesn't differentiate Delta from its competitors: everyone is offering passengers more leg room and half a bottle of Chablis. For a way to distinguish yourself in this field, check Virgin. Although its ads with Helen Mirren also pick individual services, and don't really say anything new either, they do it with an attitude.
I think the guilty party here is neither the agency nor the director. Sadly, this has the leaden hand of a big client in a rush written all over it. Delta has come in with its corporate size 11s on, trying to impress. I suspect this was made for the boardroom, not for customers: the people the makers really want to reach are their peers.
Interview by Scott Hughes
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