Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hope’s “Bores”

Today’s post comes from Philippe Holtzweiler, Principal of Hope Communications in the UK and long-time Dailogue colleague. To begin with, he refers to my own Lifeless Snoozers. Take it away, Philippe.

Dearest Richard, obviously, your biting humour is keeping its sharp edge and it was very entertaining, as usual, to read your blog on dull advertising (the one on waste was not wasted either). As you time and again extend your blog into an intercontinental chronicles, may I contribute two further examples?

I have been preparing for some time a large-scale conference on communications between France and Germany (marketing-wise and beyond) and I have collected a few nicely boring ads to underscore and entertain some peculiarities.

1. Kneipp Mineral Water. It is probably just a bedical drip bottle turned upside down, with the difference that drip liquids are seldom carbonated. It will “keep your life in balance,” says the claim. To me, this acts as a potent incentive for a very rough ride on the wild side. By the way, it’s a brand new campaign, not one from the ‘70s.
2. Mazda. This one dates back to 2005…a fascinating example of a specifically French brand of obscure dullness: The dullness that appeals to your intellect. French marketers like the idea of advertising as a self-sorting device to exclude the morons and reward the cognoscenti. So if you get the point, you are clever enough to earn the product. And if you don’t, well, stupidity will not kill you (and if it would, you are outside the target group anyway).

I suspect it gives a feeling of cleverness to the creative director, too, as a welcome side effect. So here you are. Did you get it (you need no French at all)?

It took me at least five minutes (and all my ambition not to fall into the “moron” case). That new Mazda (not shown) is sooo fast that it takes a giant board to attract within a split second the driver’s attention to the hiker’s destination. Why San Diego? I suppose the art director just wanted to go to Arizona at the client’s expense for a shooting on location and a couple of cold beers (you cannot buy a picture that bad from any image bank, so it’s the only option).

SIGNALWRITER: Are you sure you want to hammer on the Mazda “San Diego” ad, Philippe? Although it is by JWT Paris (“French marketers”), it did win a 2nd Prize at Prix Club des Directeurs Artistiques 2005 for individual print, and a Bronze Lion at Cannes in 2006 in the Cars & Automotive Services category.

HOLTZWEILER: This is an example of self-congratulation at its very best. As I have always suspected (and know from my own experience), there is a strong ‘feel good myself and be part of it’ motivation in those ads, along the line ‘look how damn clever we all are.’

Very obviously, this seems to get out of control when a jury congregates.

I insist – and I take the risk of being considered outdated – on the fact that there are some fantastically witty, clever, to-the-point ads produced by big agencies (although rather by Wieden & Kennedy or the defunct Fallon McElligott and Rice or some of the best UK agencies than by JWT)…this one, on a very objective plane, just misses the point altogether. There is only one point in advertising: To increase the target group’s urge to buy the product. That might begin with ads that are no riddles.

As Rosser Reeves – I'm well aware that nobody at JWT Paris ever even heard of him – once said (more or less), “Do you want art? Or do you want that damned sales curve to move up again?”


1 comment:

Philippe Holtzweiler said...

... just one more detail: I think to remember that the Korean Airlines ad was by a reputable agency as well, wasn't it?