Monthly Archives: September 2017

Why the new VW Arteon commercial is TV advertising at its very best

The new VW Arteon tv ad is brilliant.

Why is it brilliant? Because the creative team involved have clearly been given an incredibly boring brief (by the client/planners/suits) that said “Sell this car on how beautiful it is”. But have shown us all that, if you know what you’re doing, even the blandest of briefs can generate great work.

Most creative teams would have written an ad that showed the car in a variety of cool locations with people drooling over it as it whizzes by. It would be driven by smug man with beard, or cool girl with attitude. (There are no other people in the world according to most agency folk these days. Apart , perhaps, from the idiotic but loveable football supporter who appears in every beer/betting or pizza ad.)

The ad would feature trendy music, trendy editing, and probably some ridiculously contrived storyline crammed into 30 seconds. Ideally with a lame ‘joke’ after the logo and endline supers.

But the VW team did it properly.

They took the brief and said “How can we make this incredibly boring proposition come to life? How can we really dramatise the fact that we think it’s a good-looking vehicle? How can we make this duller than dull proposition be exciting and different? How can we make an ad that stands out and is genuinely memorable?”

What they did is show the car. In a regular, dark, car studio. Not even moving. No cool locations.

And then they have a blind man tell us why it’s beautiful.

Pete Eckert is, we’re told, a blind photographer. (Which is interesting in itself, in any context.)

Think about how off the wall that is.

It’s an ad about the visual appeal of a product. With its story told by a blind person.

Totally intriguing, totally different, totally brilliant.

What a shame that the car has such a terrible, terrible name: Arteon? Hardly Golf or Polo or Fox or Up is it?

Remember: nobody wants to read your shit.

Just read this book and it’s a timely reminder about one of the basic facts in the marketing and advertising business: nobody wants to read your ad. Nobody wants to read your website. Nobody wants to read your email.

And yet the industry seems to have forgotten this fact. We see so much work that is, patently, very pleased with itself and has clearly been produced in the reality-free zone that is the hallmark of contemporary promotion.

Work is produced for other agency people to admire. For the client to show his boss. For the boss to show his wife.

We see endless numbers of me-too TV ads with smug 30-somethings with beards being oh-so-ironic.

And offering no reason a) to watch b) to buy.

These ads feature smug 30-somethings with beards because they’re produced by smug 30-somethings with beards.

And, as a result, they become simply TV wallpaper. Blandness taken to the next level of virtual invisibility. A colourless mush of vapid, lifestyle-based nonsense.

So often now, clients want work that looks like somebody else’s work. Not work that stands out, that demands your attention. That would be brave and adventurous.

They want work that is cosy, familiar, well-worn and unthreatening. As challenging as your favourite old pair of slippers. Work That Looks Like Advertising.

Not work that is effective advertising.

Of course, the good news is this: do something half decent and it leaps out at you like somebody poking you up the nostril with a red-hot poker.

So next time you’re some creative work, ask yourself “What can I do that will make this a must-read for my audience?”

Chances are you’ll come up with a proposition for your brief which is more focused than “Product X will make you happy”.

Chances are you might think “Hmmm, do I really need to show my target audience here? Actually, these people aren’t my real target audience anyway.”

Chances are you’ll write a headline message that offers a real benefit to your punters. And if you haven’t got one then you’re going to need an execution that captures your punters’ attention by its creative brilliance.

As someone once said: “If you’ve got nothing to say, sing it”.