Wanky TV commercials that nobody gets

There seem to be a few ads around lately that are so out-there, nobody has a clue what’s going on. Self-indulgent, arty ads that I think don’t work. Like the new ad for Adelaide. Maybe it’s a case of The Emperor’s Clothes, where you have to be really clever to get it. I obviously failed this IQ test. Do you pass? Here’s the link.  http://youtu.be/VBn47_hmOMg

But who is this ad made for?
Are we making ads to make ourselves feel better because we have an identity crisis in Adelaide? Or are we really making something for the Eastern states? According to the article in Travel Weekly, our Premier said “It will get people talking about and travelling to Adelaide to find out for themselves what it is that is changing here.”

I hate to burst Jay’s bubble but according to market research conducted recently in the Eastern states, people’s response to Adelaide was actually ‘nothing’ – not negative or positive, just neutral. They really don’t care. And I’m not sure this ad will make them change their minds. They definitely won’t jump on a plane on the off-chance. Personally, I’m into recycling, so I reckon we could re-edit the previous ad for Adelaide, which at least showcased our festivals. Here’s the link for that one. http://youtu.be/QgjpVQZ4Xxc#aid=P8viDeo9RRQ

The ad is made by the same mob as did the Barossa ad a short while back. I’m sure you’ve seen it but if you haven’t, here’s the link.

So where the bloody hell are you?’
The new Adelaide ad not only makes me think ‘What the bloody hell is going on?’ it also makes me think ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ because the ad makes you wait till the end — a minute and a half! — before telling you that you are actually in Adelaide.

Speaking of the famous ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ Lara Bingle ad, that’s another one that missed the mark. Why? Because that tagline was clearly written for Australians. In fact, if the ad had been designed for Australians who’d moved overseas as part of the big brain-drain and wouldn’t come home, it mighta worked bonza. If you can’t remember the ad (and I’d be surprised) here’s the link.

It’s all a bit like the upside down ads in the paper
Years ago, I used to work at The Advertiser Newspaper, where part of my job seemed to be to try and stop clients doing stupid things. There was always the client that insisted on putting their ad in the paper upside down, thinking they were really clever. They wouldn’t believe us when we told them that sorry, nobody is going to put in the extra work needed to turn the paper round and read your ad — they’re busy flicking through to the Sports section. In much the same way, nobody is going to care about sitting through an ad that looks like 10 different movie trailers. In fact, the only place you’d sit through the ad is at the movies, because you are forced to. No remote.

Testing, testing…
It was also while I worked at the paper that I learnt a really good lesson. Just because I get the ad, doesn’t mean everybody else will. So I came up with a test. I’d come up with the ad concept, do a visual and then show the creative team. But they were creative. They weren’t the man in the street. The man in the street was the rep. Which was the real test. So even when I got a ‘yes’ from the creatives, I wouldn’t assume I could go with it.

Because creatives are not the man in the street
So, off I’d trot to the sales department and show the reps, one by one. If 9 out of 10 got it immediately, I’d present it to the client. But if half of them said “Sorry, I don’t get it…” I’d go back to the drawing board. It didn’t matter that I was ‘only’ working on $50 ads, not $500,000 TVCs, the principle was the same — no matter how much I love what I come up with, it’s important to make sure the target audience gets it. Otherwise, I’m just being self-indulgent.

Who is the target audience, anyway?
The question I always, always, always ask a new client, very early on, is — ‘Who exactly is your target audience?’ And I keep asking until I either get a clear answer from them or they let me help them find the answer. Only then will I start the process of trying to come up with ideas and direction for their advertising and communications.

The Kangaroo Island ad
The Kangaroo Island ad is also arty but at least it shows a family (who I assume is the target audience?) holidaying there and doing stuff together. It’s been well over 30 years since I visited Kangaroo Island but I can immediately recognise some of the touristy places in the commercial, so I think it portrays it fairly accurately for an arty ad. Here’s the link.

Why does the Eyre Peninsula ad feature 2 young women?
I wouldn’t have thought this was the target audience. But at least they show them doing things you can do on Eyre Peninsula. (Which they are promoting as a little bit scary.) They also set the scene at the very beginning of the ad by spelling out, on the screen, in words, Eyre Peninsula. Perhaps the target audience is young men? Who would never admit they’re scared of anything but who might well be enticed to go to the Eyre Peninsula because they think there are cute young girls holidaying over there? Maybe the idea was like getting the girls into the nightclubs with cheap drinks because the boys will follow? I have no idea. But here’s the link.

But it all kinda reminds me of Melbourne
Looking at all these ads together kinda reminds me of that old TV commercial for Melbourne. Remember? The one with the girl with the ball of string? Personally, I really liked it, even though it took me three viewings to get it. (Another epic fail in the old IQ test, clearly.) But did it work? I have no idea. Here it is.

Art for art’s sake
I hate bad ads that yell at you and/or treat you like you are an idiot. But I’m also not a fan of arty ads that appear to be have been made by frustrated film directors who’ve been given a big bag of money and a very long leash. Surely there’s a middle ground.

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