Is your ad really just selling your ad agency?

10 Mar

There’s so much funny advertising out there. You have to wonder if the brands are as funny as the ads.

There are creative agencies who have a particular shtick: a big funny visual with the product or  logo appearing somewhere in the ad very discreetly to pay off the idea, or fill in the missing piece of info.

Like this one. The line at the bottom reads’ Samsung gets your clothes to spill out the dirt.” It won a lot of awards.

The problem with the hotshops that create these is that all their clients’ ads have the same tonality, so they are not investing in the brand, just doing one-off gags.

Still, can that be a good thing?

If your product is funny or smart alecky or sarcastic, then yes. I wonder how many Brand Personality expressions really contain words like Flippant, Adolescent or Vomit-inducing. Is a vomiting shirt helping the perception of Samsung as a brand? Will it resonate with the person in the household who is charged with buying the appliances?

It’s easy to ignore your brand personality and just go for a laugh. But then you are in a sea of laughable ads with indistinguishable personalities.

Many agencies will say the game is “Like my advertising, like me.” Funny ads are memorable. They sure win lots of awards, which is good for the agency.

They even often work, which is good for the client. When anybody can bother to remember what the client was, that is.

The way I’ve always seen it, the tough task is not simply to find a funny idea: it’s to find a compelling idea that reeks of the brand, so it feels authentic. So it couldn’t BE for another product or service. It might even be a funny idea. But maybe not.

Here are some that really work for me. Note how Playland really can claim Vomit-inducing as part of their brand personality.

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15 Responses to “Is your ad really just selling your ad agency?”

  1. Shane March 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    I was just thinking about this! Applies to TV ads especially…goofy, sarcastic spots that reflect the brand of the too-cool, big-city creative team and not the product. Ugh.

  2. Brad March 10, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    It is so much better when the vomit actually fits the brand. The Playland ad is so good and the VW one really fits their fun style.
    Side note: I had no idea Samsung made washing machines and the puking shirt made no sense to me for a good minute.

  3. dougbrowncreative March 10, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    > Shane, as long as ad agencies are in it for the awards, and ad agency folk are judging them, this will continue.

    > And yet the Samsung ad won AWARDS, including Print Gold at the Dubai Lynx awards. Brad, I can’t think of an ad where the brand personality is better expressed than in the Playland one, which everyone should know is from DDB Vancouver.

  4. Felice March 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Did Playland go back to DDB? I thought Rethink still had it?. Love the VW ad, so simple, so genuis.

    • dougbrowncreative March 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

      Damn, just fact-checked on that and you’re right Felice. It is with Rethink. Great catch – thanks!

      Apparently everyone should know the Playland ad is from Rethink!

  5. Shane March 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    To contradict what I said above, when most of us sell ourselves (on a date, job interview…) we try to be a little more outgoing and bold (well, not puking). Is it the agency’s job to help their clients do the same when they’re selling themselves in an ad?

  6. dougbrowncreative March 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Big difference between accentuating your qualities and inventing new ones.

  7. Felice March 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    I just couldn’t let it lie Doug, as Leanne and Amy will testify, I am the Queen of trivia facts. We use to play You Don’t Know Jack for hours at Go and I would beat them EVERY time, Bwahahaha

  8. dougbrowncreative March 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    It’s all good Felice, in fact very much appreciated. Hey, would you mind reading over our last, say, 500 posts and figuring out if there are any other factual mistakes? I am not into having bloopers in our blog!

  9. amy March 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Watch out for Felice, Doug. She’s so freakin’ sharp and fast.

    She used to beat Leanne all the time at YouDon’tKnowJack and completely wipe the floor with me. I’m glad she’s joined your posters. Try her on UK ad agency trivia and/or great ads from Britain. Lethal.

  10. dougbrowncreative March 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    I see that I am going to have to raise the level of my game here while Felice is reading. British Ads from the 1980s is one of my favourite genres. Perhaps I should put her razor sharp beak to the test?

  11. Felice March 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    I’ll give you a starter for 10…

  12. amy March 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    Game on. I’ll do what Charlie Sheen suggests and pull up a chair.

  13. Deb March 11, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    now where the hell was I when Youdon’tknowJack was happening? NOt fair I love trivia and Amy Nicole and I managed to win the $1 Million Pyramid if I remember rightly.

  14. dougbrowncreative March 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    I will have to take your word on the Big Win Deb. You’re all welcome to an afternoon of Botched Blog Trivia. $10 to the first person to spy one. Or are we simply handing the dosh over to Felice in advance?

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