Why don’t UK agencies use people in ads any more?

But they don’t do they? Or at least not posh ads from posh agencies.

They do in the US, as you can see from a quick run-through of Super Bowl ads and the current spate of ‘real life’ mini-documentaries for the likes of Chrysler. But we’re not just talking about real people, actors will do perfectly well.

In Europe people don’t seem to have died out entirely and all sorts of specimens are freely available in South American advertising, most notably in the output of Argentina’s Del Campo Saatchi.

But in the UK they’re a dying breed and have been for years now. Celebs yes, but there’s only so far you can go with the likes of David Tennant and Sir Richard Branson. They’re not really like us are they? At least in their advertising appearances.

All of this is great news for animators of course and UK agencies have become very good at warming up the products on their books with some first class CGI. This recent example from M&C Saatchi for Ribena is a case in point.

This one from AMV/BBDO for French energy firm EDF arguably less so. You feel the reality of EDF’s pricing and practice is hiding behind the winsome animation.

The music’s great and more than 600,000 people have watched it on YouTube (unless the account director’s been extra-assiduous) but…

There are some people of course, in the Direct Line ads (also from M&C Saatchi).

Do Chris Addison and Alexander Armstrong (with the ‘tache) count as celebs or actors? Anyway here they’re people and it is a solid and persuasive campaign, although there’s so much of it you feel a bit battered sometimes. But sooner this than price comparison websites any day.

Maybe this is why the Brits have performed so badly at Cannes and the like in the past couple of years. The only people you see in UK ads these days are losing it at insurance exhibitions.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.