If there is one thing that is guaranteed to have me swearing at the television, it is ads that treat the viewer like a moron. And by extension, people who have written ads that treat people like morons.
There are some very, very good ads of course. Springing to mind (for me at least) are the Toyota “Bugger me” ads, the “Go on, give us a bit” for Sargent’s puffy pastry steak pie ad with the cocker spaniel and the currently running “Beirut Baker” ad for Westpac.
And who can forget Mr Alexander and Sergei?
I am sure you have your favourites and I am sure I have missed some of mine.
But others are so bad I want to cringe.
Yes, many are localised and so others have no idea what you are talking about (local land ad sales with some ridiculous jingle sung at the end involving the suburb name leaps out at me here), new and used car ads where the Dealer Principle just HAS to have his moosh on camera and those cheapskate ones for local services where the producer (usually the local TV station) has suggested that to keep costs down you involve the staff or family.
Sometimes they are even forced to sing.
And kids. Any ad that has some precocious 8 year old telling me to buy something should be banned and the kid sent out to work in the mines.
Then you have the ads with paid actors looking lovingly at some common product such as disinfectant, toilet paper or fly spray, and smilingly knowingly as they tap it gently in gratitude for whatever it does, and place it back in its rightful place on the shelf with other potent materials.
What a crock.
Finally, there is my pet hate also widely used in radio advertising, that goes something like:
“Let’s go the pub Fred, we’ll take my car”.
“Wow, Bert, you have a new Mazdubyota Whizzbang, How did you afford that?”
“City Mazdubyota has a special on Fred, with 5000% per cent off if you are an idiot. Hey where are you going ….”
To City Mazdubyota of course ….” (as the voice fades into the distance….)
At this point I am usually looking for the nearest sharp implement to remove some sensory bits of me and relieve the agony.
Thinking on, no, that is not finally. There is one more. The ad that shouts at you. Usually about furniture, white goods, electrical, computers and carpet. And how there will be no payments until zebras have horns and their stripes are now pink and yellow.
How and why do writers in ad agencies think the pubic is so stupid they will fall for this crap, time after time after time?
Yes, I know that these are easier and cheaper to make as against say, the BIG beer ads of the naughties (Carlton) or the QANTAS “I still call Australia home” commercial, where deep pockets, well beyond the reach of many businesses are needed.
But clever writing doesn’t need to be expensive. A good ad that works don’t need to be expensive.
What a good ad needs is those involved in the production to stop being lazy and just rehashing old and tired ideas.
Think Labrador puppy, toilet paper and the strap line (our paper is lab tested” for example. That was a good, relatively inexpensive ad that was different.
What are your thoughts in this area? Let me know in the comments below.