Copyranter: In praise of the un-ad
Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 10 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 20-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours.
Brands? Millennials and centennials are not buying your old-school “hard sell” advertising. They do their own research and product comparisons, so just back right off with your specious USPs and your negative competitive campaigns.
Disingenuous “cause” advertising seems to work, sometimes. But what if your product doesn’t really connect to any causes/issues?
Have you considered self-effacing, have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too un-advertising?
The spokesperson testimonial is as popular as ever for two reasons: It’s easy and lazy, and it sometimes generates press. But do you really believe that George Clooney can’t live without Nespresso coffee or that Tommy Lee Jones gives a shit about your retirement? And celeb ads are very expensive crapshoots that more often than not do not work.
So kudos for the no-bullshit approach to celebrity endorsements. Late last month, Australian telecomm Optus launched a second wave of spots featuring paid “spokesman” Ricky Gervais.
Pretty unenthusiastic. Back in March when the campaign launched, Gervais was even more unenthused. And even though he was paid a “shedload” of money, he refused to “big up” Optus or even say one thing about a company he had “never heard of.”
“Allowing Ricky to take control of the scripts and deliver it with his globally renowned comedy style was a bold move which could only happen with a progressive brand like Optus,” said Emotive (the marketing firm behind the spots) CEO Simon Joyce. “We’re all chuffed with the result.”
Optus didn’t discontinue the campaign, so I guess it’s working?
Of course, these are far from the first celebrity un-commercials. Earlier this year, Newcastle ale got the outright disdainful Aubrey Plaza to un-hype its “band of brands” Super Bowl ad. And back in the 1980s, John Cleese was the go-to anti-pitchman for Compaq computers and Planters pretzels, among others.
This past summer, fruit drink Oasis (a Coca-Cola product) erected refreshingly un-ad-like posters all over the U.K. (agency: The Corner, London). They are certainly more genuine feeling than Coke’s worldwide “Open Happiness” malarkey. (Side note: If you haven’t seen it, this 2009 Oasis “Rubberduckzilla” spot by Mother London is one of the strangest ads ever produced.)
Refreshing, certainly. Selling? Who knows.
The Un-Print Ad
Last year in Belgium, Seth & Riley’s Garage hard lemon ran a newspaper/outdoor campaign that incited widespread online love/hate.
This ad seriously avoided any of that traditional “ad magic” creatives are always on about and baldy trumpeted what a bunch of bullshit advertising actually is. Of course, you could do this type of ad for literally ANY product. But you could also say that about many supposedly “unique” product strategies out there right now. See more of the ads here. (Agency: Duval Guillaume.)
With public opinion of advertising falling faster than ever these days, maybe it’s time you turned to an un-ad approach? Just make sure you get that logo/product shot up nice and horsey.
NOTE: Back in the ’90s, the agency I was working for pitched John Fluevog shoes. I did an un-ad campaign that included the headline: “If You’re Asshole And You Buy Our Shoes, You’re Still An Asshole.” We didn’t win the business.
‘Find operational efficiencies’: Nokia’s handset marketers adopt hybrid model in pursuit of smartphone marketshare
The company that owns the license to make and sell Nokia-branded handsets is looking to take certain aspects of its media management in-house.
‘It’s all in the name of profit’: Confessions of a media buyer on short-staffed burnout during the pandemic
For one media buyer at a holding company agency it's become more difficult to take time off this year as the agency has single staffers doing the jobs of multiple positions.
‘Everyone is grasping for nostalgia and happiness’: Why marketers are ringing in the holiday season with more influencers
Ahead of this season, influencer marketing agency execs say here’s been a lift of between 20-30% from last year in requests for holiday influencer campaigns.
SponsoredWhy ad buyers (and sellers) need to pay more attention to viewer attention
By Yan Liu, CEO, TVision Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, we all recognize that oftentimes the TV is on, but no one is in the room to hear or see it. And yet some ad buyers continue to rely on a metric that fails to account for this. To mix metaphors, buyers […]
‘We want our brands to be where people are’: As gaming becomes a culture touchstone, advertisers toggle in
As the gaming audience grows, advertisers have a new batch of businesses pursuing their media dollars — video game developers.
Member Exclusive‘Cyber Monday has become Cyber November’: How the digital shopping day’s evolution is affecting marketers
Even if it’s a logical move to stretch out discounts typically reserved for Cyber Monday, it can create a more difficult environment for marketers.