Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Advertisers Play Odd One Out

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: Advertisers Play Odd One Out

Article excerpt

Where Cadbury has failed, 3 is succeeding. Does the UK still have an appetite for eccentric ads?

Every once in a while an ad prompts a consensus of reaction in consumers: 'What on earth is that all about?'

The latest execution to cause furrowed brows is Cadbury's campaign using animals such as sheep and badgers as metaphors for human happiness, allowing agency Publicis to illustrate the line 'Your happiness loves Cadbury'.

Unfortunately for the chocolate manufacturer, its consumers do not love the Cadbury ads. Post-screening research uncovered widespread confusion at the idea of projecting a human emotion on animals, and the agency has been sent back to the drawing board.

Of course, consumers do not always have to react positively to ads for them to be effective; every year, the winners of Marketing's Most Irritating Ads survey claim to be happy that consumers have at least remembered the executions enough to have voted for them.

Is it enough just to stand out with the help of weird visuals, though?

Justin Cernis, managing director of ad agency Barratt Cernis, can see why many advertisers set out to produce something that will cause consumers to look twice, but believes ads that are too strange are in danger of being a waste of money.

'Ads should go through two stages - they need to attract attention but, once they have achieved that, they need to have something relevant and interesting to say,' he says. 'Too many ads fall at the first hurdle.'

Effective imagery

Confusing its target market is not something of which you could ever accuse the UK's biggest and arguably most successful advertiser - Procter & Gamble. It has always been known for making sure advertising agencies stick firmly to the brief of showing product benefits in its campaigns. Although it has loosened up in recent years to allow a more emotional approach, P&G does not believe in gratuitously odd imagery.

However, some people in the ad industry argue that pushing the creative envelope is exactly what creative departments should be encouraged to do in order to counter consumers' advancing ability to tune out advertising.

HHCL Red Cell's executive creative director, Steve Henry, is the godfather of zany advertising imagery. As creative head of the agency's former incarnation, Howell Henry Chaldecott Lury & Partners, his teams were responsible for some of the strangest - but ultimately highly effective - ads of the 90s, including First Direct and Tango.

Henry points out that surveys indicating when TV viewers found ads more engaging than programmes peaked around 1990, indicating that advertising has 'lost its ability to entertain'. …

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