15 compelling creative ads of the week: Amazon, LEGO, Athleta and more

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Getting noticed is the most important objective of any advertising or shall we be suitably contemporary and say, ‘content’. Sadly, most of what’s paid for and put out there simply goes unnoticed. Only a handful break through the huge clutter of media noise and commercial messaging and an even smaller number are recalled and associated with the correct brand. Every week, I compile such creative ads. Here are a few from the week ending November 6, 2020:

Amazon: the show must go on

Feel-good ads are common during festival season. In the UK, Christmas ads from big retailers such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and others are a huge event in the advertising calendar. In the US, big e-commerce brands have created stirring commercials in the past. In India too, several brands create campaigns around the Diwali season. There are several formats which have been tried and tested – montage of visuals set to stirring music, portrayal of before-after which tells a story of hope and so on.

A new ad from Amazon in the US juxtaposes despair with joy in the context of COVID-19. It is likely to resonate among a lot us as we have all seen ordinary folks display resilience and fortitude during the pandemic to overcome so many difficulties. It is also a pointer that festive ads can be compelling and clutter-breaking without resorting to fuelling polarised views which are common in the age of social media.

Agency: Lucky Generals

LEGO: Rebuild the world

Brands have long presented a higher order benefit to consumers in their advertising. A perfume brand is not just about great smell but enables confidence. Brand laddering as it is referred to can be effective, up to a point – it has to be relevant to the product category, the brand and believable. As Tom Fishburne’s 2012 cartoon pointed out if stretched too much it can lead to a disconnect. In today’s world, ‘Brand Purpose’ seems to be the pot of gold several brands are chasing. It is about espousing a cause or highlighting a societal issue such as gender equality or other lofty ideals. Brands such as Nike have taken flak in social media for taking a stand hence some take the safe, ‘world-peace’ route. Very often such causes can lead to preachy advertising.

LEGO, the iconic toy brand has been investing in the line ‘Rebuild the world‘ for over a year now. It is a fantastic position for various reasons: it is directly linked to how the product is used, it has an element of fantasy, of escaping the mundane, in it – an aspect which is natural for both the category and the brand. Lastly, it cues a higher order benefit of setting things right. However, they have not delivered a preachy message but woven in cues of the holiday season in a new ad.

Agency: The LEGO Agency

As the well-known copywriter Vikki Ross said the messaging is true to the brand and speak to and the world at once.

Athleta: women run it all

Great TV ads are a combination of a compelling central idea, good scripting and execution. In scripts which call for stirring voice overs or riveting titles, copywriting plays a big role too. A new ad for Athleta from Gap has nice world play on ‘women running’ – running the show to running the future (with a hint of a political message, timed with the US elections).

Agency: Yard

Pond’s Men: love at your first sight

How do you weave in the product benefit through a light-hearted, fun story in a category that is known for boring product ingredient driven advertising? The perils of oily skin and the brand as a solution are weaved nicely in this love story.

Agency: David, Madrid

Dick’s Sporting Goods: Night at the Distribution Center

While technology such as CGI has become an integral part of feature films and advertising, without a strong central idea they are unlikely to garner attention and make for engaged viewing. A new ad for Dick’s Sporting Goods has both. As a sequel to last year’s hit film where the merchandise inside a store ‘come alive’ the products sold by the brand ship themselves to people’s homes in this year’s spot. Without spelling it out it cues how e-commerce has come to play a huge role in people’s lives this year.

Agency: Anomaly

FedEx: Shipathon Training Day

Logistics and supply chain brands such as FedEx have played a crucial role in business. This year, even more so with e-commerce playing such a critical role in almost every category. In a new spot, FedEx showcases its employees and dramatises how they are preparing for the coming glut in demand, alongside a gentle reminder to shop early. Loved it as it conveys a skill set about is employees suggesting their business is not an easy one.

Agency: BBDO

Niine Sanitary Pads -Rajasthan Royals: rapid-fire round

This is a case of branded content done right. Niine is a sanitary pads brand and a sponsor of the Rajasthan Royals cricket team at the Indian Premier League. In a video, they got a few of their players to answer a few questions on periods, sanitary napkins and more. It was a great way of bringing the discussion on the category and mensuration upfront and removing any taboos about it.

Etsy: gift it like you mean it

Gifting can be both a high and low involvement purchase depending on the occasion and who is receiving it. In businesses which have a practice of sending out gifts during festivals or New Year, choosing a standardised gift involving the least hassle could be a criteria. When gifting to near & dear ones we tend to get a lot more involved to choose a gift the receiver would like and appreciate. That sentiment is nicely captured in this spot for Etsy, a ‘global marketplace for unique and creative goods. It’s home to a universe of special, extraordinary items, from unique handcrafted pieces to vintage treasures.’

Agency: 72andSunny

Sunlight: Jiboner Rong

The plural nature of India and its diverse festivals across regions provide a unique opportunity for brands. There are several brands from large Indian corporates and MNCs which have tremendous loyalty in certain states and regions. For example, Hamam soap from Unilever is extremely popular in Tamil Nadu. Santoor from Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting has a loyal base in Andhra Pradesh. National brands have also created region-specific ads – for e.g the hugely popular Asian Paints’ Pongal ad released a few years ago. Pujo is a great opportunity for brands to create ads that evoke affinity among Bengalis. This year’s ad for Sunlight achieves that with aplomb as seen by its popularity – over 3 million views in two weeks. Loved the setting, music, acting…everything.

Agency: Ogilvy. Director : Dhrubo Banerjee

Pond’s cold cream: Soft Skin, Bhoolna Naamumkin

‘Googly-woogly woosh’ is an audio mnemonic alongside the act of pulling someone’s soft cheeks is strongly associated with Pond’s cold cream. A new ad highlights the benefits of soft skin in an emotional story. Even though I could guess the story line the moment the grand father’s ‘ailment’ was mentioned it is a sweet film to drive home the benefit and brand asset.

Agency: Ogilvy

Cadbury Celebrations: Not Just A Cadbury Ad

‘Acts, not ads’ maybe the mantra of BBDO (I think) but is true of several brands for years now. P&G did not just stop at paying a tribute to mothers through a claim but did something about it. In the ‘Thank you, mom’ campaign they took the mothers of US athletes participating in Olympic events to the actual venue so that they could cheer their children. A new initiative from Cadbury’s helps small businesses gain visibility by ‘promoting’ them to a wider audience. Due to the extended lockdowns this year, many small businesses have faced losses and even closure. An initiative to help them acquire business is commendable. Here’s the campaign video:

The ad highlights the various small businesses across the country and how purcahses from them helped people celebrate. Loved the idea.

Agency: Ogilvy

Philips: #KhushiyonKiLadi

Here’s an idea similar to the Cadbury’s Celebrations one above but executed differently. In a message urging people to spend as one purchase can set a chain reaction helping several businesses. Loved the sentiment as it reflects how consumers feel about helping small businesses now. Smartly weaves in the Diwali cues with the ‘ladi’ reference.

Agency: Ogilvy

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Wilkinson Sword: topical print ad

A great topical ad is one which weaves in the product story seamlessly into the news of the day. Some famous and cheeky ones have achieved this and benefited by generating tremendous PR value. Heres an ad for Wilkinson Sword in UK capitalising on the ‘too close to call’ nature of the current US elections.

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.

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