Archives for posts with tag: Advertising

Referendum leaflet and interloper

Our household, along with a million or two other households, recently received a document on the upcoming referendum in Ireland concerning the regulation of the termination of pregnancy, more commonly known as the 8th amendment to the constitution.

The document is billed as an independent guide, produced by the government to explain citizens’ rights and options. It is a superbly written document, with clear, plain languages – English and Irish starting at each end of the booklet and joining up in the centre pages with an illustration of how to complete the ballot paper – and very well laid out.

This is no mean achievement, to summarise impartially what is involved and how the voting process works in what continues to be a most emotive, divisive and political issue.

What I found most incongruous was this. The leaflet came with an insert advertising a credit card service from the state-owned postal network ‘An Post’, supported by a well-known supermarket chain. I don’t know what’s going on here. Maybe the government decided to defray the cost of producing and distributing the document by getting one of the state bodies to part-fund it and do some fancy cross-charging. Perhaps they felt this was the perfect opportunity to market a service within a document that was benefitting from near total and national distribution.

Either way, it felt inappropriate to me. In my view it detracts from and denigrates the importance of the guide, regardless of the financial benefit. It could be just me though..

Advertisements

I heard an ad on the radio the other day. It was for the travel company TUI, who used to be Thomson Holidays in the UK before they were taken over. So the ad passed the first test, namely that I was able to remember who the ad was for.

At the end of the ad it delivered its payload, which as far as I can remember was this: ‘We cross the T’s and dot the I’s on your holiday, and put you [as in U] in the middle.’ Beautiful. Achingly beautiful.

In one line it has made the brand the message.

You have to bear in mind that TUI is a German company. Someone came up with this genius strapline to work in the English language, so it’s almost certainly not the case that the strapline came first and inspired the brand name.

For me, when the brand becomes the message, or is the message, you’re onto a winner. I can’t imagine how well the strapline works in a visual – rather than auditory – ad, perhaps with a touch of animation. Delicious.

I saw a consumer ad on the television the other day. Nothing particularly unusual in that, clearly. It was for a shampoo with caffeine in it. It got me thinking.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This is something I’ve touched on before, when retailers come very close to copying faithfully the famous brand names and piggyback on all that goodwill that took years and millions to create. Irish folk will also note the familiarity in name and offering between a native fast food provider ending in Mac’s and the US company beginning in Mc that has been setting the standard since the 1950’s. The Founder of the Irish company does have a surname beginning with Mc, so that’s his defence perhaps. They’ll also remember a national retailer whose St Bernard brand bore a striking resemblance in logo colours and typography to the St Michael brand of Marks and Spencer.

That, for me, is about imitation, flattery and profit. Or imitation for profit to give it a shorter and more accurate phrase. Anyway, back to the shampoo ad, which borrows heavily from an engine oil ad from 30 years ago. It’s probably easier if you watch this 1-minute video, which puts the two ads back to back.

Of course you can argue it’s an ‘homage’ – best if you pronounce that in the French style, otherwise the ‘an’ before it looks cumbersome – to the original ad, and clearly the two companies are competing in different industries, unlike the examples I cite above. But what is inescapable is that it is leveraging the brand equity of another entity for profit. A clever, deft use of other people’s money, yes, but does it cross the commercial line? For me, yes.

Even though I live in the Republic of Ireland, my browser home page is always set to the BBC. It really is a very good website indeed. The broadcasting institution has undergone quite a few changes of late, but if you’re British it’s an inescapable and vital part of your life.

Here are 7 reasons why the BBC rocks:

– No ads.  Even though I’m in marketing, I love watching television on the BBC because you’re guaranteed uninterrupted coverage and no falsely imposed breaks of flow or thought.  You get ads on the BBC website if you view it from overseas, but who cares? That’s routine behaviour on the web

– Great value for money with the license fee. The quality of programming is still peerless. In Ireland you pay a similar license fee – and you still get ads. With Sky you pay a monthly subscription – quite a high one – and amazingly you still get ads, which I would find infuriating and a bit of a con

– Accessible to people in Ireland under a range of subscription arrangements, so us expats don’t have to go without

– Fantastic music montages. No-one caps off a televised event with a montage as good as the BBC’s

– Still the best documentaries around.  History, music, you name it

– Superb natural history content. OK, so I’m biased here and my brother does work in this area, but it’s still superb

– Flawless sports coverage and camera work. Think 6 Nations, the British Open, Wimbers…

They’re not perfect, but my they’re pretty close to it.

I do have a gripe that on the website you can’t see certain sporting footage because of licensing arrangements and you get the ‘UK viewers only’ message, but it’s a small gripe.

The phrase ‘thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded’ is sometimes used as a stick to beat the Beeb with. Not by me. We don’t know how lucky we are.