I noticed an advertisement at my local bus stop the other day that made me smile. It was a NESCAFÉ ad for its Blend 43 Black Roast.
Their ‘most intense coffee ever’ has a terrifically clever tagline. ‘EATS OTHER COFFEE FOR BREAKFAST.’ It’s bold. Menacing, almost. And so is the typeset. A little research into this ad campaign reveals more clever copy in the print ad: ‘…a true blend of strength, because mornings are no time for weakness,’ and ‘all in the name of full on taste.’
I don’t usually drink instant coffee (oh dear,
that sounds like I’m a coffee snob) but I might have to give this one a try. All because it claims to be Rich, Dark and Bold and I like coffee with a bit of attitude.
Some ads are so clever they make me want to be a copywriter. Just as watching L.A. Law made me want to be a lawyer. Or watching the movie Nadia about Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci when I was a kid led to repurposing the arm of our sofa as a balance beam and the corners of the carpet for final poses (minus the multiple backflips). Gymnastics and law were obviously short-lived dreams – my flexibility is restricted to bending my thumbs backwards and I find that slamming my hand on the table and shouting ‘Objection!’ doesn’t have quite the same effect as when Jimmy Smits did it in court. But copywriting, there may be life in that dream yet….
The best ads are memorable. The ones that have carved their way into my Advertisement Hall of Fame include:
1. WORDPLAY: Vidal Sassoon’s 1980s slogan “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” A simple play on words that worked for the haircare industry. The models looked good, because supposedly they used Vidal Sassoon haircare products. So the company looked good, because they’ve created products that work, can be trusted, and have an invested interest in you looking good. Simple and so effective.
2. DIVERSITY: United Colors of Benetton‘s billboards and posters with models of varying ethnicities and skin tones wearing bright, colourful clothes.
Memorable because it was very rare in Malaysia in the 1980s or 90s to see darker-skinned models featured in local advertising, despite the make-up of the local population.
A welcome respite from all those Fair & Lovely commercials, these Benetton ads appealed to me even if no one really wore sweaters in 33°C Kuala Lumpur heat.
3. SHOCK: Pathway Project, a UK-based charity that supports adults and children affected by domestic violence, released an image that quickly went viral on social media just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It wasn’t pleasant, but it stuck.
The statistic was based on a 2013 study by Lancashire University, looking at the number of domestic abuse incidents reported to the Lancashire police force over three World Cup tournaments from 2002 to 2010. The authors of the study called it ‘relatively small’. But still disturbing, and I was curious about the rest of the study.
When England lost: domestic abuse rates were 38% higher (than on tournament days when England were not playing).
When England won or drew a match: domestic abuse rates were still 26% higher. I hated the stats, but I loved this ad, and I hoped it had a positive effect.
Which ads, current or past, stick in your head?
©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd