Paul Simons: Seat shows us how not to advertise

One of MAA’s original manifesto goals was to champion creative work and in particular broadcast advertising. To help that goal it can be useful to critique work and provide some handy reasoning for judgements of quality. On a good day it might provide some guidance to anyone involved in the process.

An outstanding example of TV work worthy of a harsh critique, now running quite visibly in the UK, is for Seat. The particular spot I’m referencing is based on a father and son featuring the Seat Leon.

Just to get one glaringly obvious point out of the way, the car featured is left hand drive. We all know we are in the Eurozone and all cars on mainland Europe are left hand drive, but nobody is going to buy a left hand drive Seat Leon in the UK. Pedantic I know but someone took the decision to feature a car with the driver’s seat on the wrong side of the car. Already 0 out of 10 before we start.

Next the story line: we see a series of vignettes of father and son involved in sporting events such as swimming. In each scene the father says “That’s my boy” with a pretty stupid grin on his face.

In the final 5-8 seconds we are inside the Leon, Dad at the wheel when the son in the rear seat says to his father “That’s my boy” for no apparent reason.

The end line is “Technology to enjoy.”

Well who knows what’s going on here. Are we only seeing part of a bigger campaign? But it’s thirty seconds of incomprehension no matter how many times it is seen.

I don’t understand why time is spent watching the son in sports events, I don’t understand what they have to do with the car and I don’t understand why they keep saying to each other “That’s my boy”. So a further 0 out of 10 for story line.

A good starting point always is the question “what’s the idea”. In Seat’s case I have absolutely no idea what the idea is. Therefore it is likely to be impossible to take anything ‘out’ of the expensive production and airtime. At best it is an awareness job for Seat although it invites a negative response – like “what the f**k is that all about?”

My only educated guess is this is a pan-Euro piece of advertising so therefore it suffers from the lowest common denominator; surprising as Seat is part of the VW Group who have provided us with exceptional auto advertising for decades.

And another thing: Vodafone is doing a very good job of irritating me with their current radio advertising. It’s a promotional ad for deals with a deeply annoying v/o, I’m sure he is a nice chap but the delivery sounds like an actor trying to sound like a cool techy person from Shoreditch with the equally ‘trying too hard to be cool’ end line of ‘Power to the savvy, power to you.’

What a load of old stale fish, I’m a Vodafone customer and I get so irritated when this pops up on Absolute Radio whilst I’m driving around central London. Get a grip Vodafone and (brand director) Daryl Fielding, you should know better after all of your time at Ogilvy!

Bah humbug.

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