Two Ads I Like and One I Don’t – Jamal Hamidi

Two Ads I Like and One I Don’t is an ongoing feature that calls on creatives in the ad industry to offer up two picks and a pan on ad work that catches their attention.

This week it’s Jamal Hamidi, Executive Creative Director at DDB Group Hong Kong. Dig in.


Two I Like

Westpac: Moustache

There is a school of thought – one to which I subscribe – which argues that, if an ad is going to get you to do something, it has to make you feel something.


 

This ad for Australian bank Westpac is a masterclass in just that, telling a story in a way that makes you feel something.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPMyxaDEsf8

You could argue that there’s plenty of ways that, in less skilled hands, this could have gone wrong. But in both story and execution, the ad hits all the right notes, showing the deep level of skill and craftsmanship of everyone involved.

Indeed, the story is told with remarkable sensitivity, drawing the viewer in and making you feel the highs and lows, while never feeling saccharine or cliched.


 

When the ad reaches its inevitable conclusion, you can’t help but feel moved by it. Importantly, the addition of the brand message at the end feels completely natural and tastefully handled.

The lesson for all of us here is that creative opportunities don’t come tied up with a neat little bow. You have to make them happen.

What makes this even more impressive is the fact that many creatives and many clients would have chosen to play it dead straight.

It is, after all, an ad for a bereavement product for a big bank. Not the most glamourous brief to cross someone’s desk, right?

In fact, there’s an argument that most people in this industry would have taken the easy way out – mention the product, don’t do anything too provocative, and move on.

But the lesson for all of us here is that creative opportunities don’t come tied up with a neat little bow. You have to make them happen.

Bloomberg Businessweek: The Apology Machine

Hang on, you might say. This is a magazine cover, not an ad. But what is a magazine cover in this day and age, if not an ad for content?

So, let’s consider this an ad and talk about the creative craft that went into it.

It’s worth looking at this in the context that, more and more, the industry seems to want to scream everything at you, and to do it in the six seconds before the skip button appears.

Image: Bloomberg

The art of letting the viewer join the dots based on what you’ve put in front of them seems to be long gone. And that’s a shame, because it’s one of the most powerful tools creatives have at their disposal.

This is a great example of a communication that works because it doesn’t shout its message at you.

Instead, it sets up a question, then gives you enough information to close the loop. You bring your experience of the world to complete the puzzle.

The headline asks the question “Facebook says it cares, but is that enough?”

It never makes the argument directly, but this cover gives you everything you need to draw the conclusion it wants you to make.

The mock computer code on the side suggests to the viewer that the organization fundamentally lacks the humanity, the empathy, and the necessary moral barometer to even know what caring is.

You as the viewer bring the knowledge that Facebook provided a platform for the creation of echo chambers and the spreading of misinformation that has wreaked incalculable damage to our society.

It never makes the argument directly, but this cover gives you everything you need to draw the conclusion it wants you to make.

Again, a great example of a creative technique that, as an industry, we seem to be losing.

One Ad I Don’t Like

Cathay Pacific: Move Beyond

It would be easy to point the finger at Cathay Pacific’s wince-inducing Rugby Sevens ads, with their cringe-worthy gags based on ethnic tropes that might have been funny back in your granddad’s day.

However, at least the Rugby groanfest makes you react in some way. That’s an accusation that can’t be leveled at the equally cliched, yet totally anodyne new brand campaign from the Hong Kong flag carrier that was unveiled only a few days ago.

All the clichés are present and correct: the wide-eyed child who is about to fly, a bunch of millennials “exploring” stuff, a band who is about to run on stage – and a wedding, because why the hell not?

Entitled Move Beyond, Cathay’s new hero ad feels less like an ad that makes you want to fly somewhere, and more like a plea to the business world and the media to forget Cathay’s well-publicized two-year record streak of losses, which ended only a few months ago.

So, how better to announce that you’re back in the black than with an expensive new ad, produced by Ridley Scott Associates and directed by Jake Scott himself.

“We’ve moved beyond all that, so should you,” the ad seems to say. At least, you could imagine that’s what the army of corporate stakeholders who probably had to sign this off was thinking.

But what does it say to the consumer? Nothing, really. “It’s not how far you’ve come, it’s how far you’ll go,” says the ad copy. Umm, thanks for that, airline.

This piece of postcard-grade wisdom is accompanied by the most expensive version of a strategy planner’s mood film you’ll see this year. All the clichés are present and correct: the wide-eyed child who is about to fly, a bunch of millennials “exploring” stuff, a band who is about to run on stage – and a wedding, because why the hell not?

Ultimately, this ad is devoid of story, devoid of tension, and ultimately devoid of emotion. The viewer walks away from the ad feeling absolutely nothing.

If there is one positive for Cathay, it’s that the viewer will have no trouble moving beyond, because it never gave them the reason to stop and take notice in the first place.


READ MORE: DDB’s Andreas Krasser – ‘Strategists Should Be Involved Throughout the Entire Process’

Jamal Hamidi

Jamal Hamidi

Jamal is the Executive Creative Director at DDB Group Hong Kong.

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