Monday 28 June 2010

Advertisers' originality still manages to impress

It’s the World Cup and the summer movie season, so the advertising companies are bringing out the big guns. There are a couple of adverts out there at the moment that really stand out.

The Vodafone ad with a businessman’s dinner being interrupted by his daughter-in-distress is particularly powerful. I saw this one up on the big screen and it was not obvious at first that it was an advert at all. It builds up a deep feeling of sadness in the audience as we empathise with the recently-dumped woman. And we admire the man for sacrificing what it clearly an important moment without any hesitation.

Mobile-phone companies have long been at the forefront of marketing psychology – they brought minimalist music into the mainstream with their abstract adverts in the 2000s – but this one really stuck with me for the simple reason that it induced a strong emotional response. It doesn’t especially make me want me to buy Vodafone products, but it’s memorable – which is most of the battle.

Another prominent ad campaign at the moment is the iPad posters up around the London underground. In fairly typical Apple style, they are simple images of the product in question. But the screen of the iPad is filled with different things on different posters, and the screens’ contents are a window on the ‘type’ of person who might like one. Predictably, one of the images is of Facebook, so we can assume that our archetypal iPad user is a social networker (who holidays in Biarritz). To illustrate its use as a newspaper device, some posters have shots of The Guardian; as an example of an eBook, the posters show a page from The Picture of Dorian Gray; and as for music videos they have Juliette Lewis; for movies they have “Up” by Disney. These portray the iPad user as liberal, arty and fun, all of which are quite appealing characteristics.

What’s more, walking around London and noticing an iPad poster I haven’t seen before has become one of the summer’s simple pleasures. And recognising the references to popular culture that they contain lets me feel like I am in on the ‘inside joke.’ Another very clever piece of marketing (though, again, I don’t actually own an iPad – yet).

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