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Sanitised, Formulaic Advertising

Ensure you work with children and animals

They say never work with children and animals in Entertainment, but the opposite appears to be the case in Advertising. A couple of new, high profile adverts have been released in the last few days which encapsulate a lot of what I have found to be disappointing in ads this past year.

Firstly we have the new advert for Windows 10. It looks like the creative process consisted of spending a few minutes looking at what is popular amongst the more sentimentally cloying content on Bored Panda and running with a bit of that (as an aside, my personal recent favourite from BP is: ‘Photographer captures butterflies drinking tears from turtles eyes’).

Judging from some of the remote locations that Microsoft has sent these Californian child actors to, they may well be struggling for decent broadband coverage, never mind anything else. Are they trying too hard to be ubiquitous, to appeal to everyone? I think so. The ad certainly ticks all the ethnicity boxes, including ginger.

The end result is, ironically (given the ad strap of ‘a more human way to do’), an advert that is arguably stripped of any genuine, real, gritty humanity, for similar reasons that were raised in my blog on McDonald’s recent offering. The merits of upbeat, escapism advertising are well-established, but it would be good to see these brand behemoths give us something more unique, more challenging, more thought provoking. It’s so safe. It just feels like we have seen this all before.

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In a follow up version of the ad, the narrator tells tale of a dark, dystopian future where the girl will somewhat sickeningly “log in with her smile”. This induced me to attempt to log in to my Mac with a chunder (log in failed). I’m not sure we will be logging in with smiles. I have visions of inane, forced grins aimed at PCs, as the facial recognition technology has early problems. The future looks so bleak anyway, that no one will be smiling. J

‘The Future Starts Now’ sounds grand and inspiring, but as Andrew here pointed out; strictly speaking, that would be the present, wouldn’t it? If Windows did a production of Dicken’s Christmas Carol, I assume their Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come will be stealing all of the Ghost of Christmas Present’s scenes, before it all kicks off back stage.

The choice of song that overplays the ad has the words ‘love’ and ‘sun’ in the first lines, the two most overused/common word choices for lyrics in music. Yawn with a bit of sick.

In a follow up version of the ad, the narrator tells tale of a dark, dystopian future where the girl will somewhat sickeningly “log in with her smile”. This induced me to attempt to log in to my Mac with a chunder (log in failed).

The second ad is for Lloyds Bank, and their 250-year anniversary.

The 8-second ideas meeting assumingly proceeded akin to: ‘lets throw a lot of money at a Sainsbury’s/John Lewis style, ad. People love that shit.’

But often good ideas are quick in their conception, and this ad works better for me, primarily as it has nothing to do with banking, and wisely so, as Lloyds are not very good at banking. If banks want to attract new customers, it’s imperative they don’t mention that they actually bank.

This Lloyds advert is a little like the ‘If Carlsberg did…’ adverts, conveying a vibe of ‘if Lloyds did horse handling’. It says to the UK tax-payer: ‘Thanks for bailing us out recently. To say thank you, here is a beautiful, epic, emotive 250 year socio-historical piece on the horse’. Brilliant. Clearly the British public will have more of an emotional connection looking into the eyes of a horse rather than a banker in an advert. I’m not sure how far Lloyds will take this, mind. Maybe all their staff will be given pantomime horse costumes to wear in branch.

The director has fixed the same heavy nostalgia tint lens to his camera that was also used on the Sainsbury’s advert. Throw in a bit of War Horse and what looks like ‘The Shire’ and you are on to a winner. Combine the stock use of female vocalist playing an overly-earnest acoustic number (we blogged more extensively on this here), and all the predictable boxes are ticked.

There is no doubt that both these ads are slick, polished and well produced, and will garner a lot of shares and views, but I need a bit more from my adverts. I don’t know about you. I think some of you may be with me.

"Often good ideas are quick in their conception, and this ad works better for me, primarily as it has nothing to do with banking, and wisely so, as Lloyds are not very good at banking. If banks want to attract new customers, it’s imperative they don’t mention that they actually bank."

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10/08/2015

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