Jun 21, 2007

Win Some, Lose Some

I was very happy to see the Nike/Apple running site done by R/GA win big at Cannes. It's a great idea because it actually provides the consumer with something of value that they can't get elsewhere on the web. The much ballyhooed "community-building" aspects are nice, but I suspect to the average user the best part of the site is that it's actually something they want to use. That's something most advertisers seem oblivious to. They're constantly creating sites that are either useless or that duplicate something available elsewhere in a more inviting format (which makes them doubly useless.) Because as with their advertising, they start off with "what do I want to say" rather than "what does my customer want to hear?" (On the web that translates into "what do I want to build" vs. "what might my customers like to have.")

What's interesting about the site is that it's something the client might have thought up themselves- it's a marketing idea as much as an advertising idea. So the fact that they are turning to agencies for ideas like that is a sign of our potential future value.

And now for the other side. The Tide campaign from Saatchi. Which won P&G it's first gold lion. It's a very clever campaign, unique idea, doesn't need words, nicely art directed. So what's my problem with it? Well, I just don't think most people are going to take the time necessary to get it. It's laundry detergent, a very low interest category. And you have to study the ads for a bit to actually get them. (The one above, for instance, if a mob of white-ish robots surrounding a smaller group of black-ish robots. I think.) Otherwise they look like a blow-up of fabric. And I suspect most people will leave it at that: blown up fabric with ketchup trapped inside. Got it.
It's the same problem I have with a lot of visual campaigns- the one for Bic with the inifinity symbol comes to mind. When you get it, there's a big "ah-ha." But most people won't be bothered to get it because most people actually try and avoid advertising. Now I'm sure the agencies argue that when people do figure it out, they tell their friends and it goes the offline equivalent of viral. But somehow I don't see that happening with a Tide ad.


Anonymous said...

Toad, great post as always.

Of course, the real point of your critique about the Tide work is that it was never done for the 'real' consumer. I can tell you from direct experience that these ads were created SOLELY for Cannes (and their judges). They ran so they are legitimate, but the brief for these ads was literally "Do something that will win at Cannes." (Credit to Tony Granger for pushing them on to this.) As these ads only run once or twice, it's not a big deal money-wise for P&G, but they now get to continue deluding themselves that they do good work.

Alan Wolk said...

Thanks for the compliment. Sure I can't persuade you to use some sort of nickname so I can call you something other than "Anonymous" ;)

As to your point about this being a "limited edition" ad, I had suspected as much. (As does just about every ad person I know, so not much insight there.) Biggest debate people seem to be having is whether Granger convinced P&G to pay for these or if Saatchi pays for it themselves. Kudos to him either way though, right?

What's odd about Granger is he seems to completely ignore the internet and concentrates on print instead. Odd from a pure business standpoint and odd from the standpoint of it's a lot cheaper to run one of his "limited edition" ads on the web than in a real publication. I mean do any of you guys know if Saatchi NY even has a web division?

One other Cannes note: Mixed feelings about "Tea Partay" winning. Video itself was funny, albeit way too long. But points should have been subtracted over the fact that they did not have the site ready when the video went live. Two weeks and half a million hits later, they finally got their act together on that.

Anonymous said...

tony granger is merely repeating what he's always done. take a crap behemoth shop, win a few awards and pretend it's a creative powerhouse.

at least tea partay went undeniably viral. it was a great idea.

doing achingly "clever" print ads for Tide is a waste of everyone's time in 2007. might as well compose a sonnet about it.

Anonymous said...

Toad, it frightens me how often we agree.

The Tide print campaign is a (laundry) load of crap.

I believe the backlash against stupid "visual solution with a pack shot and a logo" ads has finally, and blessedly, begun.

After all, the sanme people who scream and yell "nobody reads copy" are now creating visual work that takes just as long or longer to decipher.

Anonymous said...

You'd think some of the ad reporters would figure this out and do a story on how these ads only ran once or twice and were only created for award shows.

It'd be a lot more interesting than reading the press releases.

Anonymous said...

Toad, it's Anonymous #1 from above. To clarify--yes, P&G does pay for production and media. They do in fact provide the "brief" to win at Cannes. They continue to think the rest of their dreck is of a piece.

Awesome point about Granger and print.

I'll think of a nickname.

HighJive said...

i don't get it. are there racial implications? let the whites overwhelm and eliminate the non-whites?

Alan Wolk said...

Anonymous #1: Take solace in the fact that when I talk to juniors- kids coming out of the ad schools- none of them seem fooled by what's going on at Saatchi. But to Granger's credit, it's working and then some. Both this year at Cannes and in new business wins. And as we've noted, even more remarkable given the fact that it completely ignores the existence of the web.

High Jive: I swear as I was typing that, I was thinking "shit, HJ is going to read this and make some smart-ass remark about blacks and whites." But it was late and I was tired and so I didn't go back to edit it. Touché.

Anonymous said...

P&G wants to win at cannes and finally does? proof, as if it were needed that cannes, and by logical extension print (or "press" as tony and kevin would call it) are officially OVER.

HighJive said...

well, toad, i would argue that your premonition was based not on familiarity with my positions; rather, you also spotted the racial undertones in the ad. and technically, i did not make a black-white statement. the non-white reference was intended to include all minorities (after all, isn't soy sauce usually associated with asian cultures?). the scene actually looks like modern images of mass protests ala immigration rallies and riots abroad.

that said, tide has produced award-winning ads in the past. and those ads were strategically and creatively superior to this example.

also, given tide's predominately female audience, the depicted ad seems really wrong—on a number of levels.

Alan Wolk said...

I'm familiar enough with your positions, HJ, to know that you'd point out the us vs. them, dark bad guys vs light good guys construction and it's ultimate meaning.
And fwiw, I do agree with you.

As for Tide's predominantly female audience, well, not to pat myself on the back, but as I pointed out in my post on awards shows last month, the ads that win awards are those that are aimed at 30something hipster white males with lots of disposable income. E.g. the judges.
(And yes there's Dove "Evolution" but that speaks to everyone, and lets the judges congratulate themselves on how PC they are for rewarding it. I mean even the thickest of them has heard women complain how the fashion industry creates unrealistic standards.)


HighJive said...

Toad, don’t get me started on Dove. You’re cordially invited to check out my classic posts on the campaign.



Anonymous said...

worrying about how P&G does in print at Cannes in 2007 = Fiddling while Rome burns, 2007-style.