Hard-hitting stay-home ad for NHS, another fun spot from Ryan Reynolds & more: creative ads of the week

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The first and perhaps the most important job of an ad is to be noticed. If an ad goes unnoticed – everything else (the strategy, media investments) is immaterial. Sadly, a majority of the ads out there (and we see truck loads of them every day) are not even noticed, leave alone being disliked. Clutter-breaking creative ads need to be celebrated and that’s been my intent in sharing some of these over the past few years. Here are some compelling creative ads from this week:

UK Government: look into my eyes

For a large part of 2020, several brands invested in campaigns related to COVID-19. The strategy adopted were diverse: urging consumers to stay home and maintain social distancing, paying tributes to front line workers and raising awareness about the unexpected negative outcomes of staying home, such as rise in domestic violence.

Currently in the UK, someone is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds with the corona virus. Given the increased cases, the UK government has launched a new campaign to reinforce the need to practice safety measures. Despite being aware of the susceptibility, we have seen that many, even the educated ones, continue to take the pandemic lightly – by not wearing masks when in public or not wear them the right way. I guess they are filled with the false bravado of ‘nothing will happen to me’. A potent argument to change this mindset is to portray the hardships suffered by doctors and healthcare workers in trying to keep us all safe. Asking one to ‘look in the eye’ is to urge them to have the courage to speak straight and speak honestly. A couple of hard hitting ads ask viewers to look into the eyes of hard working medical staff and stressed out patients in order to urge them to stay home and practice safety measures.

Agency: Mullen Lowe

Mint Mobile: More Data. For Free

Ryan Reynolds’ creative agency, Maximum Effort has created some wonderful ads for Aviation Gin, Mint Mobile (which happened to be businesses owned by the actor) and Some common elements of these ads are humour, a light touch, selling the product features through entertainment and not taking themselves too seriously. A new ad for Mint Mobile subtly highlights their new plan which gives more data by highlighting that all their ‘budgets’ go to give more to end-consumers and not for political lobbying which is the supposed practice of wireless companies. Loved the connected dots.

Heinz: Draw Ketchup

When you are already dominant brand in the category, what can be the communication objective of Heinz ketchup? I feel they are investing in increasing the brand affinity and making it even more endearing by reinforcing their key brand assets (such as the colour, when they launched a giant jigsaw puzzle) and an almost generic nature of the brand. Even outside the category of ketchups the brand almost owned baked beans with their ‘Beanz meanz Heinz’ property. A new PR stunt in Canada asked people to draw a ketchup bottle and most simply drew a Heinz bottle. To brand loyalists such activity reinforces their choice and strengthens the ‘Heiz or nothing’ perception.

Agency: Rethink, Canada

Heartkids: things can change in a heartbeat

Ads involving kids evoke an emotion. When they are shown suffering from an illness, the communication to strike the right balance and tone of voice as coming across as ‘exploitative’ or manipulative can backfire. I sometimes feel that way when I see digital ads seeking donation through crowdfunding for under-privileged families and kids.

A recent campaign for HeartKids a not-for-profit organisation ‘focused on supporting and advocating for all people impacted by childhood heart disease, one of the largest causes of infant death in Australia‘ has that right balance by juxtaposing how things can change in a heartbeat when we come to know of kids suffering from congenital heart disease. The TVC has some great copywriting (‘Choosing a name. Choosing a cardiologist’) and tugs at our heart strings.

Agency: DDB

The print campaign brings alive the transformation needed through a clever use of heartbeat as a visual mnemonic.

GEICO: switch campaign

Aside from automobiles, insurance advertising should rank as among the toughest as there is hardly any product differentiation to anchor the communication on. GEICO has had a great track record of memorable, entertaining and effective communication. The trend continues with a new set of ads which take on the inertia which most of us have in changing an insurance provider. The common ‘what are you waiting for?’ as a taunt prod someone into action is used literally here to great effect.

Agency: The Martin Agency

Oatly: help dad

I loved the strategy behind this campaign for Oatly, a vegan food brand from Sweden that produces alternatives to dairy products from oats. They have launched a new campaign in UK, aimed at assisting people who are teens or young adults with a dad they’d like to help go more plant-based. The strategy takes on regular milk – which is a common drink consumed by adults. The ads portray how dads are adamant to change and its up to the kids to help them switch to Oatly.

A TVC in the campaign acknowledges the effort made by dad by saying ‘no’ to milk.

Aside from regular TV commercials I loved the micro-site dedicated to this project. It is packed with recipes, statistics (Oatly generates 73% less CO2e vs. milk) and the big picture rationale aimed at children. The copywriting is wonderful and uses language likely to appeal to the target audience.

Dads are the best, except when it comes to eating and drinking sustainably, in which case, dads are the worst. Compared to women in the same age group, or younger men, or basically anyone any age anywhere, middle-aged and older men (44-75) are the least interested in anything vegan. That’s not just something the website writer-person made up, it’s based on real dad research which we have collected and presented here as intel for you to use as you work toward your endgame: to win dad over to plant-based for the sake of the planet. No pressure.


The site has recipes and other ‘ammunition’ needed to win dad over.

I particularly liked the ‘When dad says’ section which provides handy answers to the likely objections raised by dad.

Agency: in-house

Leica: The world deserves witnesses

Despite the ubiquity of the smartphone and its increased camera prowess, professional photographers still rely on specialist cameras. Leica has a great equity among this audience. A new campaign salutes the role they play in chronicling our times as ‘witnesses’.

Agency: TBWA

The print campaign works the way ‘best of the year’ image galleries do – stunning off-beat pictures which tell a story, transport us to that place and tell a story.

Mercado Libre: boomerang

‘No questions asked’ return policy is common in e-commerce brands. Mercado Libre is a leading brand in Latin America and a new campaign from them dramatises this policy by visually cueing a boomerang to commonly used gadgets such as stereo speakers.

Agency: Sancho BBDO. See more ads from the campaign here.

Tilda: Elevate your plate

I simply loved the tag line and the rhyming copywriting in this ad – both of which make it memorable and repeat worthy.

Agency: Havas

The Impossible Burger: meat unmasked

Advertising schools create campaigns without a few constraints which ad agencies are used to: a business objective, communication brief and client approval. Nevertheless, a new campaign to highlight the negative impact of meat, especially beef, on the planet caught my eye. It appears that plant-based meat alternatives are slowly gaining acceptance the world over and I hope such campaigns not only gain traction but also result in behavioural change for good.

Advertising School: S.I. Newhouse School Of Public Communications. Via Ads Of The World.

Truecaller: #ItsNotOK

Spam or unwanted calls is acknowledged as not just an irritant but a major privacy issue among smartphone users. Truecaller is a commonly used app to identify and report or block spam callers. A new print campaign from them in India caught my eye for two reasons: (a) in a media environment full of boring, straightforward print ads these were crafted well (b) they are anchored on an issue – women’s safety which is likely to appeal to wide audience relevant to the brand. It is anchored on the fact that most of the inappropriate calls and messages women receive are from unknown people.

Agency: Thinkstr

However, I am not able to reconcile with the fact that the brand does not evoke a sense of safety in me personally as it has access to the user’s phone contacts (at least on Android) and leaves an uneasy feeling that one’s phone number is ‘out there’ accessible by professional spammers.

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.

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