Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Commercial Breakdown

Since childhood I’ve always loved adverts. I would demonstrate a wider knowledge of TV commercials than the programmes they dissected. My grandad was in the industry, owning his own advertising partnership, so maybe this influenced my televison viewing, but I never nurtured an interest in entering the industry myself. I don't think I really have the creativity for it anyway. I am creative, but not in that way.

I like ads – good ads anyway. I like the way they can influence our thinking and persuade us of things we might never have thought.

On holiday a few weeks ago I was complaining about the current Skechers advert, a ‘Real World’ type set up where one housemate steals another’s Skechers and then accidentally damages them by leaving them too close to the water’s edge whilst making out with his girlfriend on the beach. It’s simply irritating – badly acted and pointless. A friend of mine questioned my complaint. “But you remember it though?”

“Yes, but it’s annoying.”

“But if you remember it, then it achieved its purpose.”

But I disagree. I may remember the advert, and personally, I am a fan of Skechers anyway, but even though I remember it, it DOES NOT make me want to buy a pair. It makes me want to poke toothpicks under the fingernails of the ‘actors’ in order to teach them a lesson about the pain their bad acting causes the general public.

The best adverts are not only memorable, but memorably GOOD. I can still recall with warmth the Milky Way advert that featured the cartoon and the little song about how “the red car and the blue car had a race.” And how old was I then? 10? But wasn't it great? I remain convinced that Milky Ways are far superior as an in-between-meals-snack choice than all that scrap metal the red car ate!

There are some abysmal adverts out now, such as the aforementioned Skechers one, but there are also some that I really love. Good adverts can be like mini-treats between TV shows, as interesting, exciting or amusing as any full-length programme. At the moment I’m loving the Quinn’s advert. Funnily enough, I’m not too bothered about sampling the product itself, but let’s face it, at the end of the day it is just another alco-pop. But the commercial itself is a pleasure to watch, particularly the longer version you get at the cinema. The poem and the graphics of the plants coming alive are beautifully Lewis Carroll-like, which I love, by the way, and the gravelly-voiced American woman who reads the words is an absolute pleasure to listen to – her voice has the kind of timbre that sends shivers down the spine. I could watch it over and over again, captured by the fairy-world hidden deep in the undergrowth where this product ‘grows’.

Another fantastic advert right now is the Mint credit card one. The Mint adverts have always been good, but the current ones are brilliant. Apparently for every clever thing that happens in the world, a very stupid one must happen to balance it out. So on one side of the world we see a man opening an envelope containing his new Mint card, offering 0% on purchases blah blah blah. So conversely, on the other side of the world, a woman is cleaning her patio doors and she walks up to the next window, leans forward to wipe it and falls through the open door. The first time I saw it I laughed out loud.

I'm wary of credit cards because I have one and it's mostly maxed out although I try to save it for emergencies (emergencies being, OMG I need that pair of shoes from that website and they don't accept Maestro), but if I was getting a credit card, I'd so get a Mint one. Or an Egg one 'cause those guinea pigs? Hilarious!

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