Matt Williams: they may not be Cannes winners but let’s hear it for and eHarmony

Last week I indulged in a bit of a rant about bad advertising. There are two sorts of rubbish ads, I concluded – those daytime TV atrocities that we all expect to cringe at, and those big brand, bigger budget TV spots that should be creative and interesting but only end up disappointing.

Whether you think it’s a bigger crime to be responsible for an ad from the former or the latter is up for debate. Certainly from the reaction I’ve had since (and it’s good to know that there are some people reading!), the opinion is pretty split.

But this week let’s switch our attention to more positive matters. We all love a good ad campaign. And we all love those brands that consistently offer up advertising treats.

I’m thinking Nike, Newcastle Brown Ale, John Lewis and Axe/Lynx. Brands you look to as examples of great creativity, who you can always rely on to produce a spot of significance.

But what about the feeling we get when a great ad comes from an unexpected place? That can be even better.

Much like the disappointment I mentioned last week when an established brand throws away a great opportunity, it’s as much of a thrill when a brand perceived to be from a dull or dry sector produces something memorable.

Take last year’s Cannes winner ‘Epic Split’. This was a great piece of advertising either way, but as the Cannes judges pointed out, what made it all the more impressive was that it was a business-to-business campaign – effectively a product demonstration that managed to capture the attention of and entertain more than 50 million people.

Then you’ve got another Cannes success story – Dumb Ways to Die. Again, more than 50 million people watched a ‘public service announcement’ from Melbourne’s Metro Train system.

And closer to home, there’s probably no better example than Before Aleksandr came along, ad campaigns for price comparison websites were atrocious. Remember the ear-splitting choir?’s own drab offerings? And – shudder – Gio Compario?

The meerkats changed it all. They proved that you can take a fairly dry brand from a less than creative sector and produce something not just watchable, but award winning.

Why do I bring this up? Well not just because last week made me sound like a right grumpy bastard, and I wanted to show that I do really like a lot of ads too. But also because of eHarmony.

Dating website ads fall into the same category as price comparison campaigns. They’re now generally expected to be a bit crap. There’ll be a few dodgy graphics, a couple of testimonials from people that shouldn’t be allowed out of the house let alone be allowed to go on a date, and a basic price offer at the end allowing people to review their matches for free.

Mother tried to subvert the norm with some cracking ads for a few years ago, but despite picking up a few industry awards, the campaign quickly switched back to awkward testimonials.

Yet eHarmony now appears to have attempted something creative, launching a new campaign fronted by a camel. The ad is derived from a nice, simple insight, is executed in quite a fun and charming way, and “the brains behind the butterflies” is an excellent strap line.

Don’t worry, I’m not getting too ahead of myself. This campaign isn’t a Meerkat. And I don’t really expect it to be winning too many industry awards.

But it’s nice to encounter an ad from a sector filled with drab work that’s got some personality to it and with a strong idea at its heart. It doesn’t have the wit of Old Spice, the power of a Sky commercial or the craft of a Nike spot, but you don’t expect it to.

And that’s what I love. There’s a client who could have settled for less. Who could have paid lip service to the creative team and then gone the way that all his competitors have done. But they didn’t. And they’re all the better for it.

You May Also Like

About Matt Williams

Matt Williams is head of content at Partners Andrews Aldridge.