My friend Jerry Judge (left) of the Fearless Group in New York has highlighted the apparent absurdity of Mondelez hiring the world’s hottest creative agency Wieden+Kennedy to produce its Oreo 2013 Super Bowl ad while at the same time bending over backwards to restate its loyalty to decidedly uncool incumbent Draft FCB – and awarding its US creative work to The Martin Agency, not W+K.
Which you might call trying to have it every which way.
Here’s Jerry’s view.
Advertising generally takes the form of an interruption. On line, off line. Who cares. It’s an interruption. If you’re watching Homeland (which it seems all my colleagues do) and terrorists are about to ambush the CIA, and all of a sudden the action’s interrupted by an ad for, say, stomach gas suppressant, you’d be pretty pissed off. Thank goodness for Showtime.
But most ads try to pretend that they aren’t interrupting you at all—they’ve got this mistaken idea that they are the main event. Ads, in general, like the king, assume they’re right. So by and large they bluther on talking to themselves and ignoring the people who are supposed to see them.
Then along comes the Super Bowl. For a brief, glorious, (and sometimes vulgar) moment, the ads are made for the viewer. They offer a gift in exchange for butting in on the football. It’s often a laugh, sometimes a gasp or a bit of intrigue. That’s the good manners you need to show if you bustle into someone else’s life.
The funny thing is, Super Bowl ads stop feeling like such an interruption. People seek out these ads, and even look forward to commercial breaks. They share these ads with their friends. Because when ads are designed to delight the viewer, they often succeed in doing just that. Makes you wonder—why aren’t ads like this all year round?
I just saw that Oreos is having Wieden and Kennedy do their Super Bowl spot. Not all their advertising. Just the Super Bowl spot. A proper, great agency. It’s as if, for the Super Bowl, Oreos needs real advertising. The rest of the year? Not so much.
He’s absolutely right of course. Years ago I became involved to a small degree with some research Lowe in London (then run by Jerry) had produced called ‘Ad Avoiders.’
This showed conclusively that people avoided ads they didn’t like but responded well to ads they did, usually funny and engaging ones. A statement of the bleedin’ obvious, you might say, but it came a as big surprise to a lot of people.
Did it persuade clients to commission more funny and engaging ads? Probably not. Unless, as Jerry says, it’s for something where the ads really seem to matter, like the Super Bowl.