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End of the decADe

December 31st, 2009

sony_bravia_ballsI thought about doing a post on advertising since Upside Downturn started. And as the length of time between the last post and this one spiralled out beyond my expectations (and my control) the more the idea of managing to squeeze a post in before the end of the decade played on my mind.

I had fragments of posts written about various ads but they were little more than rants and I like to have something vaguely positive to say in my posts here. What tied it all together in the end was one of those pointless commercial TV countdown shows. The ’50 Best Racist Sitcoms’ sort of thing. This one billed itself as the 20 greatest ads of the decade. I guessed I could bear to sit through it because of two things.

1. The ability of the ITVplayer to fast forward and

2. The thought of seeing any of the Sony Bravia ads again.

whassup-stone-2008The fact that it’s Christmas also hopefully means that I can get away with not squeezing some sort of business lesson into the post and keep it light. That said I think the whole thing is pretty much a business lesson – all these ads whether you like them or not have increased the awareness of their individual brands beyond any expectation by simply being unique.

20. Budweiser, Wassup.
The oldest one on the list. It was recently updated with a fantastic bitter-sweet
internet-only spot
that wasn’t shown on this programme. I have to say I never joined
in with repeating the catchphrase the ad is named after but still to this day overuse the words ‘True, true’.

19. Cadbury’s, Eyebrows.
Equal parts cute and creepy. I think this one is a winner for me mainly because I
like ‘Don’t stop the rock’ by freestyle. Not an obvious choice at all for the soundtrack and all the more impressive for it.

howardhalifax0708_450x30018. Halifax, Howard.
Most adverts that I detest are for products that aren’t aimed for me anyway (4-wheel
drives, Bitter, Sanitary towels…) which slightly lets them off the hook. This one, along with one other on the list, is for a fairly universal product – banking.

Howard looks like something a police frogman would find looking on the bottom of a lake for a missing cBeebies presenter and pops up murdering some song or other with a cast of jolly Halifax staff. This set of adverts just go on and on and are so sickening I don’t think I’ve  ever watched one all the way through.

_38376037_kay30017. John Smith, No nonsense.
I didn’t realise that this was why people have been going round saying ‘Ave it!’ for the last few years. In fact, I’d never seen any of these ads before this programme.

I think this shows the importance of ad placement around shows your target market will watch. This obviously was, and why I missed them entirely. That’s not to say that I never see ads that are completely irrelevant to me. I watch lots of cookery shows and so get to see a lot of ads for Baileys, Hair Dye and Paolo Nutini.

16. Sure, Stuntmen.
Perfectly positioned. Perfectly executed. A great ad with loads of impact that also
succeeds in placing the product at the front of the mind. It’s the way they all play
it so cool and collected.

15. Calsburg, 2006 world cup.
The one where the footballing legends play the pub team. They filmed them playing
for 6 hours solid, apparently. Lots of brands have tried the ‘bringing football to
the streets’ angle over the years but here, for once, it actually succeeds.

14. Sony Bravia, Balls.
Stunning. The ultimate advert. The act of doing something for real is what gives
this the extra push to perfection. The effort is always worth it. Just compare The
Dark Knight to the two Matrix sequels!

13. Volkswagen, Singing in the rain.
A risky move, updating the song and the dance, but it works. I couldn’t have named
you the product before I wrote it down while watching this, though.

citroen-transformer12. Citroen C4, Robot.
Just great. Everybody loves the transformer cars.

11. Barclaycard, Waterslide.
Another great, fun ad. Couldn’t have told you who it was for though, even though the product is not only featured in the ad but used as well!

10. PG tips, Monkey & Al.
I must have seen it at some point but it didn’t really register. Do people remember Morcombe and Wise sketches from 40 years ago well enough for them to be used as references?

Bravia_paint09. Sony Bravia, Paint.
More genius. Creating beauty out of the ordinary. The end of this ad with the shot of the playground and the sound of the paint ‘rain’ falling is too lovely for words.

08. John West salmon, Bear fight.
Was amusing at the time but now just reminds me of the horrible cascade of viral ads that came along in its wake.

07. T-mobile, Flashmobbing.
Never seen this before this programme aired. A great example of a large brand taking
hold of a trend and getting it completely and utterly wrong. It couldn’t look any less spontaneous if it tried. I’ve followed the FlashMob thing on the net since it started and, unusually for me, will go out of my way to watch videos of them so I have some reference. This ad just flops for me and more than any of the others that I don’t really like I just don’t understand how this one ended up on this list. The very worst part is the utterly horrific medley of dancing hits that is stuck on it.

Wrongly pitched and just plain wrong.

06. Guiness, Tipping point.
A good title for this ad for me as I think it was probably the tipping point where Guiness stopped making good adverts. What should have been fun and visually interesting just comes out twee and dull.

05. Cadburys, Gorilla.
A real puzzle. Most things that I dislike I can at least see how other people do like, or, as I’ve mentioned, are so obviously angled towards other people that I don’t spend much time thinking about them. This really made me feel a disconnctedness, though. I thought it was terrible. I couldn’t understand how such an average setup with such an bland song could be so popular.

It’s not even as though I don’t like ‘In the air tonight’. In fact, I think I own it. It’s just so average that it doesn’t register. The sort of thing that you’d hear in the background in the cafe in Eastenders. As for the people who gushed over the ‘realistic’ gorilla. Really? Come on…

04. Honda, Cog.
Another example of an ad that started out as a viral. The difference here is that this one worked. Clever, relevant marketing.

03. Compare the Meerkat.
A cute animal and a catchprase is pretty much all you need for a successful ad but Compare the Market had the added presence of mind to tie that into the name of their product. Considering that it’s one of the least memorable names in one of the least memorable marketing sectors that’s a genius move.

pudding tester_431x30002. Skoda, Cake.
I presume the soundtrack couldn’t have come cheap, and neither did the ad itself. The problem is that the soundtrack doesn’t really fit the ad’s content and the ad’s concept is more clever than watching it play out. A puzzle that this ended up at number two. Of course, number one won’t be any suprise. The most parodied, the most admired, the sexiest, the classiest, the most copied ad – it can’t be anything except M&S food. Apart from, erm…. it isn’t. It’s….

01. Hovis, through the years.
Well. I think I’ve seen it. But it never really registered. Even seeing it now it doesn’t seem to have the epic feel that other people obviously think it has. It obviously works well for Hovis but why on earth were M&S left out of the list?

There you have it, the top 20 ads of the decade. A nice list to look back on as, sometimes, it seems that advertising is as devoid of creativity as other mediums. Let’s see what the next decade brings us…

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