Friday, May 30, 2008

A Question To The Creatives Out There

I've noticed that the Sri Lankan blogosphere is jam packed to the rafters with creative advertising types. By "jam packed to the rafters" I mean that there are several lurking about. They don't hide, they blog about Sri Lankan related things like the rest of us and then, every once in a while they put something up about the advertising industry, about the Chillies or the latest tattoo that they've had done on their right ball.

For the record I quite like advertising types. My covers band is full of them, apart from me, and I love it in a band practice when I listen to the latest gossip about who's sleeping with who, or should that be whom, in the UK ad industry.

But my side of the fence, if I had a fence and a side, would be more that of a client. I co run and co own a company and any professional involvement I've had with ad people has been as a client. In all ad industry and client environments there appears to be this "us and them" mentality, a polarisation of positions.

I often see situations in which the creatives get frustrated by the client's unwillingness to let them have a free reign at things. Or perhaps the client's reluctance to go ahead with a campaign or ad that may be a bit too "out there" or a bit radical.

Then, the issue of what exactly is a successful ad rages on. My view is that a successful ad is one which achieves my objectives, me being the client. This post by TMS touches on and elaborates on my thinking quite a lot. If I'm the client it makes sense to me that my objectives are the ones that I want to achieve. If I want to win a D+AD black pencil, then let's go all out and try for it. If I want to double my sales figures in the next month then let's go out and do that. Surely achieving the objectives of the client is what it's all about isn't it?

As a layman, one who is interested in the advertising game and all, I know what I think makes a good ad. It's simple and it's easy; a good ad is one that sticks in my memory, whatever the format. But that means that the ad sticks in my memory, not necessarily the product or company that the ad is for.

The Honda ad below is one that sticks in my mind as a piece of artistic genius, but does it make me any more likely to buy a Honda? No way. Does it make me think that Honda make great cars, that things "come together" more on a Honda? No. It could have been an ad for Mihin Air and I still would have thought that it was a little slice of genius.

The only thing that this ad does is make me want to hire the creatives who made it if I were to ever commission my own TV ad. That's got to be a classic case of one to the creatives and nil to the client. In years to come I bet there'll be many like me who'll recollect the ad with warmth and nostalgia but won't have a clue which car company it was for.

My question is a simple one, unlike the answer.

What exactly does make a good advert?


Java Jones said...

Should be the ones that get folk to rush out and get whatever it is that is being advertised, shouldn't it?

David Blacker said...

That's just the half of it, Java.

Good question. Very simply, a good ad should be memorable first and last. And it must be memorable across the spectrum -- ie it should make you remember the brand and remember the message.

Ads often have to get it right on at least two levels -- the tactical message delivery and the strategic brand building. If Ikea is having a Christmas sale, that message must be delivered clearly and in an entertaining manner that will be remembered. But that's not enough. The ad must also contribute to building Ikea's longterm brand image, so it must fit into the overall brand communications.

I disagree with you about the Honda film. I think it quite clearly conveys the fact that Honda makes cars comprised of intricate technology that works together in perfect harmony. If you feel that the ad doesn't make Honda memorable as a brand, maybe that's true -- but only if you take the ad in isolation. As a part of Honda's overall communications, it does its part to build the brand into an automotive giant.

And for the record, Dhammika isn't a Creative. He's just a suit who thinks he can do my job better than I can :)

Anonymous said...

"You don’t have to shout to be heard, you just need to be remembered and shouting never helps"

Anonymous said...

In a market where mercedeses, and bmws were king, today Honda is king in places like dubai, repected in US etc. so by not considering themsleves, just another car, honda has gone from being a car in people's minds to a "honda" like a bmw and all. blah blah blah but you probably know all this brand jargon. But does this mean there are no ads done for award winning purposes only (well meaning or not) that accomplish nothing than the award? Yes, you are absolutely right, there is.
Was this Honda commercial a waste?
(some additional info, it was one of the most expensive ads to ever be produced)
It could have been, or perfection could have been the one edge that separated them from every other car.

Anonymous said...

An ad needs a few things in my egoistic evaluation (don't stop reading)

1. what the company wants to tell the market

2. some element to get the market involved

3. if the strategy is good for the brand, and the target is right;

4. You are right still the product won't be remembered in the beginning, or may not be. But they will remember it if it doesn't bore them enough to switch the channel every time it comes on or runaway from it. This Honda ad is a good example, people do froward it around. So this brings us to the conclusion that a good ad EVENTUALLY builds your brand, but bad advertising won't.

Fair enough?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Java - If that's what the client intends then yes, for sure.

David - Thanks for that answer, it's highly informative. You may be right about the Honda ad building the company's overall image, I hadn;t taken that into account.

Dhammika - I'm unsure about the "being remembered" thing. It seems to me that that is only a measurement of success if it's what the client has set out as an objective.

Someone important - Yes, fair enough, thanks for reading and the comments.

Anonymous said...

Hi ya, RD sorry replying Davy on your post.
"Dhammika is also a damn good suit who has worked in teams that have created some damn good advertising - in terms of quality and sales for the client."
And yes Dhammika loves to dabble in creative. The worst suit to have around. But you know I love you Davy.
And in terms of what makes a good ad, sometimes we love to complicate it with all the jargon. It is simple;
1. It should sell the product WELL while building a viable and long-term business environment for the brand.
2. It should be memorable and engaging enough to build the reputation of the creative and the agency that created it.
That's all.
dhammika :)

David Blacker said...

Glad to see you haven't lost your self-effacing modesty, Dhammika, but you're wrong on no 2. It should NOT be "memorable and engaging enough to build the reputation of the creative and the agency that created it". That is the very dubious objective that has made many Colombo ad shops lose the confidence of their clients. However, an ad that that is memorable and engaging enough to build the reputation of the BRAND, will also build the reputation of the agency. But it should always remain a byproduct, and not the objective of the ad. Down that road lies the short slippery path to scam.

Anonymous said...

I agree with David. In fact its shocking that this Dhammika guy even things his #2 idea is even ethical,

As for the Honda ad, the spoof is better

Anonymous said...

dhammika has left the building...

Actually the country too!