Privacy on iPhone, great tourism campaigns from @iceland, #EleganceAirFrance and more: creative ads of the week

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A majority of the ads suffer a fate worse than being disliked – they are ignored. Creating advertising that is noticed, remembered and liked is not easy. My weekly collection of clutter-breaking creative ads is a small tribute to teams which manage to entertain or moves us while meeting a business objective. After all, advertising is creativity with a commercial purpose (no pun intended). Here are a few ads which caught my eye this past week:

iPhone privacy – data auction

Apple has touted privacy as one of its main selling points when it comes to the iPhone. In a smartphone world dominated by Google whose primary source of revenue is advertising, it is a smart move given that advertisers are likely to pay a premium for customer data. As users of free services such as Gmail or Google Search we’ve experienced how contextual advertising is driven by content of an email or our search keywords – it can be unsettling and spooky even. Apple has also been ‘contextual’ in promoting its privacy claims (as we saw in their billboard at the CES at Las Vegas) too. They have also dramatised the perils of sharing private information, our natural tendency to guard our privacy, and the power of control in one’s hands. A new ad takes forward that idea of ‘control’ by combining it with raising fears of one’s private data being ‘auctioned’. Users know that advertisers bid for premium sites and data which can be useful (such as say, searches pertaining to travel destinations or ailments) for advertisers. Simple yet dramatic. Loved it.

The idea is adapted very well on billboard through a simple device of an iPhone covering the face of a user.

Air France: taking elegance to new heights

In fashion and lifestyle categories several brands owe their exclusive tag to the country of origin, such as France and Italy. It is commendable that they automatically cue premium, luxury, style and elegance. A new ad for Air France literally takes this perception to new heights. What I also loved about it is the subtle yet clever way in which a branding element from the logo is woven into the visuals (especially the last frame) – yet another good example of a distinctive brand asset used well.

Agency: Aura by Omnicom

CRED: play it different

There’s been much debate about the marketing & advertising strategy of CRED, a reward-based credit card payments app in India. The ads have evoked polarising reactions – getting both bouquets and brickbats (it’s social media’s nature after all). I think the strategy is clever and deliberate – appealing to a demographic which grew up in the 90s (so they’re likely to be at the peak of their career and spending habits now). Most of their ads are high on entertainment quotient without getting into the weeds of what exactly the app does. Thankfully, the 90s in India had a treasure trove of pop culture moments across entertainment and sports. The app design too is unconventional (some may even find it intimidating) and hence there seems to be a method to the madness – trying to appeal to a niche audience makes more business sense than being ‘everything to everybody’.

A new ad from CRED featuring ex-cricketer and later commentator and coach Ravi Shastri has generated a lot of buzz. It stays true to his personality (at least on social media) as a party animal who likes his tipple. The writing is hilarious with some one-liner gems. There’s attention paid to the details too as they have got Ravi Shastri to announce the ad with a tweet which is also in character with the ad.

MasterCard: What’s Priceless to You

Introduced in 1997, Mastercard’s ‘Priceless’ platform is popular, strengthened the brand affinity and so iconic that it is part of popular culture (especially the earlier line of ‘There are some things money can’t buy; for everything else, there’s Mastercard). A new ad features footballer Lionel Messi recalling his journey from his home Argentina to Barcelona as a boy. The link to the brand idea:

I’ll never forget where I came from or what I had to overcome to get where I am today. So when I ask myself the question, what’s Priceless to me? The answer is simple: doing what I love.


What I loved about the ad is the technology of ‘de-aging’ the star (Production House: The Mill) which makes it so real, credible and personal.

Agency: McCann

Inspired by Iceland: out of office replies by horses

It’s common for working professionals to set up an automated ‘Out of Office’ reply when on vacation. Yet, it is common practice to check on work email when on such vacations. In a research by Visit Iceland, 59% of people globally feel as if their boss, colleagues and clients expect them to reply when on holiday, while only 44% of workers actually feel rested after their trip. In order to create awareness about the need to ‘disconnect’ and have a distraction-free holiday (in Iceland of course), Tourism Iceland has set up a system where tourists can request to have their OOO emails written by, wait for this… Icelandic horses. As the horses trot on giant keyboards email replies such as ‘þþnjifai=’.,,lmbmbnbbhgycdrgzw/’pfæ ndaiFVxhðut7r7r7djsmfdsm‘ and ‘þnjifai\’/.p,oii9unnbhvggyvgjhbjm,kfæ,.iklp–jpomohu o/’k;,i,mumnf’ can go out.

Agency: SS+K

LinkedIn: Find your space

When I first saw this spot on television in India, I noticed the production values first – somehow it felt like an international production, made for India (with Indian models). Turned out I was right – a new brand film from LinkedIn is made for UK & India. Aside from the production values I quite liked the simple idea of a table turning to be an office anywhere – which fits in well with the WFH scenario.

Agency: VCCP

Just Eat: Did Somebody Say

I love it when brand advertising resembles regular content which the intended target audience is familiar with and find entertaining. ‘Did somebody say’ music video type films featured Snoop Dogg in 2020 and the idea is carried forward featuring Katy Perry in a similar styled film. I loved the styling and art direction. Props to the er…props. With peppy music video style execution, one doesn’t mind lyrics with over-the-top branding:

Back from the club (Sandwich)
Eating subs in the tub (Famished)
Spicy chicken when I’m ready
Bon Appétit from me, Katy Perry
(Did somebody say Just Eat?)

Agency: McCann

Coke Studio: The Conductor

Fizzy carbonated drinks have nothing much positive going for them in terms of product features. Hence they rely a lot more on creating affinity through marketing initiatives. One such brilliant idea is Coke Studio (which originated in Pakistan) – promoting musical talent through live shows. The property has a huge fan following in the Indian sub-continent and now the idea has been taken global. A new video features seven artists collaborating to reimagine the iconic track, A Kind of Magic by Queen.

Agency: BETC, London

Stella Artois: unfiltered

I wasn’t aware of ‘filtered’ and ‘unfiltered’ beer until now. Stella Artois (known for its classic ‘reassuringly expensive’ tagline) now has a ‘naturally unfiltered beer’ which has cleverly been portrayed as ‘au naturel‘ beer. A cheeky ad, in more ways than one.

Agency: Mother

Range Rover: stunt on The Spillway

The new Range Rover Sport is described as ‘Visceral. Dramatic. Uncompromising’. A launch activity lives up to that promise by pitting the vehicle against the force of a spillway (a structure used to provide the controlled release of water from a dam downstream, typically into the riverbed of the dammed river itself). Starring British racing driver Jessica Hawkins, a 6-minute film showcases the toughness of the vehicle in a classic ‘acts not ads’ format. Riveting film, with edge-of-the-seat action.

Agency: Spark 44

Bentley: comfort outside your comfort zone

For a super-luxury brand I thought the script and acting could have been a bit more understated (if there can be such a thing) but the idea of finding comfort outside one’s comfort zone comes through in the plot. There are sufficient cues of product features and creature comforts in this version of the Bentley.

Agency: Keko London

Alzheimer’s Society: it’s not called getting old

When attempting to raise awareness about ailments such as Alzheimer’s, I think there’s a need to strike a balance between creating empathy and what can be called ‘misery marketing’. I have encountered a few creative teams in my career where they see such as opportunities to do award-winning work rather than solve a business or communication problem. A new film for Alzheimer’s Society, UK makes it real with some great acting – urging viewers to be a more mindful of someone who maybe suffering from memory loss; a situation which can make others around them irritable.

Agency: New Commercial Arts

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.

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