There is an old saying that the best way to make a bad product fail is to advertise it, then people will try it and tell everyone not to buy it. The truth comes out in the long run.
Meaningful ads come from understanding the honest truth of a brand, its products, and its users. Maybe rational and maybe emotional, either way based on truths. Truth is a harmony of where the product, the brand, and the user are true to each other in what the product does, what the brand says and who the user is. Driving sales this year while building equity, the greater asset, over the long run.
Two Ads I Like
Coca-Cola 1000 Names Celebration
Which is why for the first ad I loved, I’ve picked something unspectacular and free of hyperbole. But first, imagine being the team receiving Coca Cola’s annual brand brief in the America from the local market CMO – “….sooooo it’s still Coke and still the same consumers, nothing new, now go make it different… but not like last year, oh and don’t ignore 126 years of brand heritage.”
Which for many brands quickly leaps to vapid make the world a better place type campaigns of various people, I dunno, dancing in different places, to show togetherness and worldliness ending with some grandiose self-congratulatory tagline. Yawn.
Coke USA instead kept it simple, kept it true. They brought it to people who care about Coke, embraced media fragmentation and grounded the brand on a credible space, music.
The team understood where Coke plays and its role in American life, and nailed the right tune. What stood out at a time of desperate media firsts and digital gimmicks was they demonstrated something rare, continuity and simplicity. They leveraged their assets and enabled consumers of Coke, to see its role in their life, amongst friends in social occasions building off the simple name device. No more, no less. Refreshing.
Shiseido – Braille Nails
Now while Coke might make every day happier, a little more social amongst friends, it doesn’t make a better future. Google knows how to make the technology that makes a better future. They also know they have to bring the dull facts of tech to life. They know that to talk about how powerful technology can be they need to do something powerful and non-obvious with technology.
Google consistently achieves a rare meshing of product and storytelling. I love how Google’s Creative Zoo takes first-time use cases and utilises media to help us experience, and feel, what technology can do. I love that this use case with Shiseido brings us into the eyes of the beneficiary to compel us to connect with their deeper human needs. Inspiring.
One I Don’t Like
HSBC – Together We Thrive
Now, since I was asked, let me go against my optimistic nature and tell you about an ad I rather don’t love. It is a lost opportunity for a brand that can do so much better and has. HSBC’s new global airport campaign “Together We Thrive” on its own is harmless visual pollution, but actually represents a more fundamental failure for a leading brand to be a leading brand.
Airport gangways were once a genius media buy with a strong proposition delivered by a corresponding service for the jet-setting business traveler; the World’s Local Bank. This campaign lacks any genuine proposition wallpapering over a correspondingly incoherent product experience.
Ads are windows into how companies organize themselves and I wish rather than a flaccid logo device with lifeless generic stock photography “adapted” to local cliches HSBC just made the actual products and services better to be true to their promise. Friends, then you’d again have something to tell us on the gangways that we’d actually want to tell our friends and family about. True.