Good Ad Bad Ad
In which a leading advertising expert picks some of the best and worst around. This week, Jerry Green, deputy chairman at the agency McCann- Erickson on television commercials high and low
Monday 03 March 1997
Advertising works best when it takes the truth about a product, and builds on that creatively. The truth about junk mail is that more often than not, we chuck it in the waste-bin. What the creative team has done here is to take the truth and give it a new twist: you throw potentially winning numbers into the bin, with the absurd logic that the waste-bin is actually richer than you are. So, we are given shots of the waste-bin at the wheel of a car wearing sunglasses, on a yacht, and generally having fun in exotic places.
When the advert starts, its jingle makes you think that this is some terrible throwback to the Fifties and Sixties, but it turns out to be tongue-in-cheek. We enjoy seeing these humorous images of a waste-bin surrounded by beautiful people, who are all smiling and laughing at his jokes. The casting is suitably anodyne, and there's a cute end-line: "Win it, don't bin it", which makes the message of the ad memorable. Advertisers are always looking to use rhyme or assonance to make words stick in the audience's mind.
Advertisers often play games of "What if ...?", and here it's "What if the waste-bin won?". Basically, this is a nice, fresh way of dealing with what is essentially unattractive - junk mailn
This is an opportunity missed. They, too, have found a truth about a product - office furniture - that it is boring, dull, and functional. You wouldn't want to live with it. Ikea, on the other hand, produces office furniture that is bright, cheerful and quite cheap, that could brighten people's lives and change their attitudes.
Again, it's a "What if?" scenario: "What if the workforce were to choose their own office furniture?" It's the workers revolting, really, which is a very old-fashioned concept. I just don't identify with any of the characters in this ad: the boss and the main employee are only set up in a cliched way.
Most importantly, though, advertising is about persuasion, and what this commercial does is emasculate and ridicule the very person it's trying to persuade - the boss. Instead of being empowered, he is made to feel inadequate, so the nation's bosses are hardly going to make the phone call to order the brochure. They won't want to feel that they are the kind of boss portrayed here. Worse still, there's a 10-second follow-on to this ad, where we see that the boss has been sticky-taped to his chair by his disgruntled employees.
There is scope for a really arresting piece of advertising here. What should have been done was either to have the boss as a hero figure, or to show that Ikea can brighten up the office, even if it doesn't brighten up the workforce. You can still use humour. But I looked at this ad and thought what a shame that it takes such a hackneyed approach to dramatising the need for more pleasing office furniture n
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