Has advertising got lazy?

06 October 2020
Written by

Greg Bryant

Creative Lead Greg Bryant puts the cat among the pigeons…

Ok, a controversial headline I know, but there are some campaigns or ads that I see and wonder how on earth they even got onto the ideas list, let alone made it all the way. There are some obvious techniques used in what we do, but sometimes the concept is so obviously contrived that you wonder how nobody else sees it. Here are a couple of my ‘favourites’…

1.    ‘Get that (insert phrase here) feeling’.
This is usually used when there’s no universal feeling recognised by anyone other than the brand itself, yet they still try to tap into ‘that feeling’. 

Obviously as a brand you might be familiar with the feeling you get when you (e.g.) replace a cog in a watch, or get a new key cut, as that’s what you do. However, the general population don’t care, and certainly don’t recognise it as a great feeling that they want all the time.

You definitely shouldn’t build a campaign based on the line ‘get that new key feeling’! It just doesn’t work but seems to be something that’s always out there, somewhere, for us all to see and ‘appreciate’.

What’s worse is when the brand name is slapped into that gap. There is no feeling which specifically relates to most brands. There are maybe, just maybe, a handful of brands that could claim this, but that’s it.

There are always exceptions to this though – if they’re done properly. For example, Crunchie’s ‘Friday feeling’. This works because ‘that Friday feeling’ is universally known, and Crunchie tapped into that. They didn’t say ‘get that Crunchie feeling’, they made their product part of the already widely felt Friday feeling. It made Crunchie a celebration of Fridays, the best day of the working week. Everyone knows what that ‘Friday feeling’ is.

I also love the way the AA have done it in their new ad. Note though that they’ve just said ‘love that feeling’, NOT ‘love that AA feeling’ and have then cleverly shown the woollen dog missing the wind in its face while in lockdown. That’s the difference: there’s no ‘AA feeling’, but a dog does love the wind in its face while in a car (an excellently executed ad in all aspects by the way). 

You see the difference? A campaign to try to own a feeling that already exists can be a great idea. Trying to create a feeling that simply doesn’t exist and assuming everybody associates with it and wants to feel it all the time is, at best, self-important, at worst lazy. 

2.    You wouldn’t do (insert phrase here), so why would you do (insert phrase here)?
This one really is one of my pet hates. I’ve always thought there are much stronger ways of getting your message across than using analogies. You know the sort of thing: ‘you wouldn’t give a stranger on the street your bank details, so why would you buy something online?’. Well, because the two things are completely different, obviously. Just because I would or wouldn’t do one thing in one situation, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do a totally different thing in another. 

I heard one this morning, asking why someone would do their research into something that they were really interested in, but not do the same amount of research into their energy supplier. As an example (this is not what was used but was very similar): ‘when you’re really into your food and you spend a lot of time researching the best places to eat, then why wouldn’t you do the same amount of research into your energy supplier?’. 

Well, because people aren’t passionate about their energy supplier, it’s not something they want to spend their time researching. But if their hobby involves looking into where they can find certain things, or great places to go, of course they’ll do extensive research into it, it’s part of the experience. That’s why they wouldn’t give the two completely different things the same amount of research. 

In the interests of balance, I’ve tried to think of an exception to this rule, but I just can’t! 

So, if ever you’re pitched ideas that sound like they fall into these categories, ask yourself if it really is a good idea and is it unique to your offering. Or could your brand, product or service be stripped out and easily replaced by another while maintaining the same effect. If it can, then it probably isn’t the right route to take. 

I believe that concepts should be totally bespoke and thought through with the strategy and research in mind. Think of the audience and what they want, what will appeal to them and will make them remember your campaign over all others. I can guarantee you, ideas based on these template structures won’t be remembered. If you’re paying for creative ideas, you want creative ideas, not templates.