“I’ve lived all my life in this weird wonderland;
I keep buying things that I don’t understand,
‘Cause they promise me miracles, magic, and hope,
But, somehow, it always turns out to be soap.”
(“Chim Chim Cheree” by Allan Sherman, a parody of the song “Chim Chim Cheree” from “Mary Poppins”, the movie.)
March 2013 – Canadian TV commercials
A couple of decades working with ad agencies drives you a little bit crazy. I was a perfectly normal client, until I got into the clutches of various advertising agencies. Long, seemingly endless meetings, trying to come up with concepts, briefs, copy and punch-lines seemed to be my daily punishment for having been so dumb as to get into marketing – and what’s worse, IT marketing! You think trying to sell consumer products is hard? Try selling IT systems and services. At least shoes and shaving cream are tangible. Try selling to government agencies and faceless corporations. At least you know the demographics of the people who buy cars and shoes and take-away food. And then there’s the rules and regulations – the claims you may not make, the direct marketing you cannot do, the people you must or must not show in your ads. I had a love-hate relationship with the agencies on which we spent our hard-earned profit. Most days, more hate than love, at the lack of logic, the bad grammar, the complete misunderstanding of our product, service and industry.
So, I have a leg to stand on when critiquing Canadian TV ads (or commercials, as they call them over here). There are some good ones, but good grief, some are so very, very, very BAD!! Just plain bad. Who makes these things?! Are they executed by semi-literate art school dropouts? I mean, seriously, some of these things just suck so badly. Or are the clients so badly informed about what good advertising is, that they don’t see the problem? Well, agree or disagree with me, this is what I think.
Ads to love
My current fave ad? Oreo cookies – “Wonder filled” – catchy melody, witty lyrics, pretty animation, and it creates a lust for Oreos. Highly sing-along-able song by Owl City. Some say it’s a bit childish, but I like feeling like a kid again. And it’s cookies, not rocket science.
Second most favourite ad? “Dumb ways to die”, a public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, to promote rail safety, performed by Tangerine Kitty. Really funny, a bit crazy – and effective because it’s a proper ear worm, lyrics and all.
Both ads have gone viral, and like Psy’s Gangnam Style, have spawned countless knock-offs, alternative versions and parodies. Just shows you, find a good artist, let them do their best work, and half the battle of making a commercial is won.
Here is my selection of the good, the bad and the very odd indeed ads on TV. Want to find out which ones suck and which ones shine? Read on.
A selection of the Good, the Bad and the Very Odd Indeed