EE network’s remote shave stunt, Apple’s privacy ad, and more: creative ads of the week

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Every week, I attempt to share a compilation of clutter-breaking creative ads and occasionally some commentary on the business of advertising. As many have noted, a majority of the ads out there go un-noticed, so managing to break the clutter is actually a big deal. This week’s compilation includes a stunt from the mobile network, EE in the UK, TV spots from Apple, John Lewis and more.

EE: a close shave for actor Tom Ellis

Product demonstration is a tried and tested campaign strategy in advertising. Such ads usually have the plot anchored around the brand but most such are reduced to boring side-by-side feature comparison which no one cares about (think of the millions of detergent and floor cleaner ads with that format). Even in such categories, one can be interesting as Leo Burnett demonstrated for P&G with Cheer in 1988. Product demonstration ads have also adopted to the ‘digital world’ as it were as we saw with the hugely successful ‘Epic Split’ advert for Volvo trucks, which went viral.

But does one keep an intangible service such as a mobile network the hero in a product demo ad? Here’s what UK’s network known for 4G and 5G speeds, EE did. A new ad features actor Tom Ellis (known for ‘Lucifer’) who has his lockdown beard shaved off sitting 729 metres above sea level on Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa, Wales by a robotic arm controlled remotely by a barber who is sitting 250-miles away. The ad also features Kevin Bacon who has featured in EE ads earlier too.

Read more about the campaign here.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

I think it was the now-defunct satellite phone network, Iridium which had the line ‘Geography is history’. In modern marketing it is certainly is true as a neatly done activation or stunt for a brand anywhere in the world can go viral and make the brand famous. Remember, TNT’s launch and the viral ‘a dramatic surprise‘? It helps if the brand has an overarching theme such as ‘Open Happiness’ which helped Coca-Cola create some memorable campaigns.

John Lewis: Any Day

‘Everyday pricing’ is usually euphemism for reduced prices, usually used by a premium brand to cue a particular range. A new ad for John Lewis, the retail brand in UK has a nice word play going in a music-video style ad aimed at the younger demographic.

Agency: adam&eveDDB

iPhone: privacy

Apple has always presented privacy as a core value (pitting against an open system like Android) and never missed an opportunity to highlight it even in communication, sometimes tongue firmly in cheek. A new ad does a brilliant job by ‘personifying’ privacy which ends up following our protagonist wherever he goes and being privy to his personal information. The benefit reveal – the moment the user denies permission to an app is memorable visually. Also notice how the phone screen reflects how the regular app permission screen looks like on an iPhone and not the badly designed ‘in your face’ ‘Buy Now’ buttons we see on some e-commerce ads in India.

Chevrolet: cities

Electric vehicles are battling a perception and behavioural change. Price-value equation, their speed, ability to go long distances and lack of charging points are all issues likely to be considered by a potential buyer. A new campaign tackles the abundant supply of charging points visually by comparing it with number of traditional gas stations in some cities.

Agency: McCann

McDonald’s: Father’s Day

The power of distinctive brand assets is such that they can make the users recall the brand effortlessly. The sound mnemonics of Sony (‘It’s a Sony!’), Intel and Britannia are invaluable especially in the context of poor product parity – they can give the brands an edge. For Father’s Day, McDonald’s in Canada created a static media ad of their audio mnemonic. Bit subtle for some perhaps, but very clever.

Agency: Cossette, Canada

Movistar: escape from your prison

We might as well add mobile addiction as another irrational behaviour, after ‘smoking’. We all know that too much screen time is bad for us but indulge in it. A new campaign from Movistar, telecommunications provider in Mexico dramatises it visually by showing us inside a prison. Like several anti-smoking ads this might just get us to nod our heads in agreement – but will it shame us enough to change our habits?

Agency: VMLY&R, Mexico. See more here.

Central Narcotics Bureau, Singapore: down the rabbit hole

When your target audience are the young and the intent is to take preventive measures before they become addicts to drugs, a different approach is called for. The Central Narcotics Bureau in Singapore has released a short film, starring actress Jasmine Sim as a drug dealer who reveals the tricks of her trade to get people hooked – only to pay a price finally.

High Noon seltzer: sun’s up

I didn’t know that there’s a category called ‘Hard Seltzer’ made of vodka and juice. An amusing new spot from High Noon features a friendly shop owner wishing all sorts of good things would come true for all of us. Of course, there’s a place for the brand in it.

Agency: Preacher

Time Out: maskazine

Ad agencies are known to create ‘public service’ campaigns to impress an awards jury somewhere. Often they are high on creativity but low on effectiveness. Worse still, not for a ‘real’ product or service – only done for awards’ sake, sometimes even for imaginary problems. This seems different – tackling the real issue of mask non-compliance in Mexico. And the solution is creative. Not sure if the ‘product’ (a mask that could be made of a printed magazine) was used though. Good effort, nevertheless.

Agency: Grey, Mexico

Got Milk?: The Wall

If you are in advertising or marketing, I would highly recommend reading the book ‘Truth, Lies and Advertising‘ in which the strategy behind the famous ‘Got Milk’ campaign. It appears that there’s again a campaign to get more Americans to drink milk. As part of the campaign, there’s a new dare stunt and roping in of athletes to speak about the benefits of drinking milk.

When you’re about to do something epic, you’re gonna need milk for that. Just ask Kai Lightner, pro climber, who scaled a climbing wall on top of a 30 story building

YouTube blurb

Truly: flavours of Dua Lipa

Sometimes, even if the core idea is no dramatically different from what the category has seen, the execution feels right even if you are not the target audience. Singer, songwriter Dua Lipa features in this ad for Truly, a hard seltzer drink highlighting its range presented as No One Is Just One Flavor. That Dua Lipa is a bilingual, a yoga enthusiast and a dog mom is the link to being ‘more than one flavour’ I guess. Given the target audience and her fan following it appears it would strike a chord.

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

McDonald’s: playoffs billboards

Apparently, in Canada, in the NHL Stanley Cup players sporting beards is a thing. The practice, or superstition, was introduced in the 1980s and is now present in many sports. An outdoor campaign plays on this phenomenon by cleverly placing iconic distinctive brand assets (here we go again) of McDonald’s. The decision to go with an illustration rather than actual photos helps the idea, me thinks.

Agency: Cossette

Samsung: load faster

Ah, visual puns. When executed well, they bring a smile (when the penny drops) and hardly need any copy to explain the idea – like this one.

Agency: Leo Burnett

Guinness: welcome back

It appears that UK maybe easing up on restrictions related to COVID-19 soon and brands are gearing up. Guinness has already released a ‘Welcome back‘ TV advert and has followed it up with a print ad. Clever use of the iconic glass of Guinness and the copy captures the emotions of our travails last year.

Digital Cinema Media: it’s back

Thank god for British print advertising. Craft in that department of advertising is a thing of the past in most markets, such as India, where English ads are common.

Wilkinson Sword: show your face

Topical ads are fun. As I’ve said earlier 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. Here’s one from Wilkinson Sword (again) which reflects the mood of the nation in UK.

Which one was your favourite? Comment in.

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