Mike Kettles is ECD of Momentum Worldwide in the UK. He joined the Interpublic-owned experiential agency from A Little Bird where he was director of creative and strategy. He was a co-founder and director of Greenspace and then a senior strategist at RPM. Momentum operates in 50 countries and its clients include American Express, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Microsoft and AB InBev.
Desert Island Ads
In what can only be a disastrous attempt at some November sun I find myself and (seven) of my favourite ads marooned, apparently, on a desert island. Albeit a desert island with a television, and the requisite power supply, reception and commercial channels necessary to see any ads. I assume this television is the advertising equivalent to the Desert Island Disc castaways all being given the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible. (Read into that as much as you choose.) If I’m allowed a luxury item I’ll have a speedboat or a yacht or something. Please.
If you can make me laugh, I’ll probably buy it. I’ll certainly reassess your brand. If I am to have to spend my remaining days with only an ad’s break worth of distraction I’d want something funny, and something that I can watch time and time again. I don’t need the Guinness horses reminding me what waves look like, especially when my liquor cabinet consists of coconut milk and saltwater.
Tesco Match Winners – Wales
My first pick, and the first of three ads with a football theme is this short and sweet near-haiku of an ad for Tesco around this years’ Euros. It must have been shot in a day and almost certainly not in Wales, but it doesn’t matter.
On the rewatch you’ll notice all the little bits of art direction that make this so special: the kit of victories past, the forlorn jangling of his keys – most effectively – the perfect casting of the armchair pundit who hasn’t ran for a football in years. With such a short space of time the endline needs to be solid enough to land a joke on. And it is, thankfully. A brilliant bit of insight – we’ve all been that guy!
Mercedes – Used
I’m responsible for too many of this ad’s YouTube views. Everyone growing up knew Jack’s big brother. A smug haircut, puppy fat, all of the gear and none of the skills. Even all the football boots money can buy (two) can’t win him the audience’s sympathy like Jack’s hand-me-downs can.
I’ve shown this ad to my kids and it gets a laugh from them, whilst their dad is revelling in the minutiae. I can, and will laugh every time at his sister not even looking at him as she offloads her detritus into his hands.
This joke, in contrast to the Tesco ad, is a strong enough joke that playfully sustains itself across the 30 seconds, so much so that the end line is more ad than punchline. It’s a wonderful and instantly recognisable story.
Kronenbourg – Cantona
Cantona’s Kronenbourg ad. There are few people with the combination of elan, verve and French passport to carry off this role, embodying the confidence and prestige of the brand itself. Cantona is complicit in a pitch-perfect (pardon the pun) satire of his old world and his reactions are spot-on. He’s a better actor than you’d expect: for a man who spent his career letting his feet do the talking it’s nice to see his eyebrows are similarly eloquent.
Whilst you’re laughing at the little touches like the farmer’s blink-and-you’ll miss them hairstyles it’s easy to miss that this ad tells the brand story very effectively, far more succinct and with infinitely more flavour than any of the heritage/family history/pedigree campaigns that booze brands can’t stay away from these days.
Canal+ – The Bear
The central joke of this ad isn’t obvious until the pivotal twist halfway through, a classic pull-back-and-reveal that lands the minute the bear rug is seen, which gives the rest of the ad the room to breathe and have fun with it.
This is another one that must have been a good laugh to create, plundering the language of cinema and the colloquial history of on-set antics for enough blink-and-you’ll-miss-them gags to put most sitcoms to shame. For me though, the real magic of this is the character of the bear himself – he loves an explosion!
John Smiths – Arkwright
This one narrowly beat out the Peter Kay’s ‘Ave It’ spot for John Smiths for its inclusion in my fantasy island ad break, if only for not coming across as someone who only watches adverts over a half-time orange.
It may be a little obvious but it has got all the charm and warmth of a family friendly cracker joke. A good one mind you.
Pot Noodle – Welsh Miners
This was where it all started for Pot Noodle, the ad that after 81 complaints was crucially declared ‘not racist’ by an advertising watchdog. There’s a creative somewhere who’s probably chuffed to bits to have that accolade, and almost certainly mentions it at parties. And good on them, because if the verdict had gone the other way I doubt they’d be invited to many.
Look out for the enthusiastic new start “lovin it”!!
Hamlet – Photo Booth
Comic genius Gregor Fisher warms up for his Rab C. Nesbitt roles and Chewin The Fat etc. with just over one minute of comedy gold.
A simple thought delivered brilliantly. It’s the marvelous kind of slice-of-life observation punters would pay £30 (or a licence fee) to have Michael McIntyre relate to them. We’ve all been there and we’ve got the glossy print-out to prove it.
The pacing is sublime as well, allowing the audience to enjoy the character before the brand gently asserts itself at the denouement. Lovely stuff.