Laurence Green: the advertising weather changes…

The last year has been horrific for many. For other, luckier souls the abiding memory will be of relentless monotony, albeit borne in the national interest. Remember when ‘Zoom’ was just a reliable wedding floor-filler?

Even the ‘basket of goods’ used to calculate inflation by the UK’s Office of National Statistics bears witness to the humdrum. The ONS has just added loungewear bottoms, dumbbells and hand hygiene gel to its monthly calculations, removing the 9 carat gold chain. It’s as if Normal People never happened.

Our advertising screens were no exception to that creeping monotony, of course. So it’s a relief that alongside the overall recovery in advertising activity, there’s a definite whiff of creative perkiness in the air, even amongst those brands waving goodbye to lockdown or hello to the unlock.

The imminent return of the Cannes Festival may feel premature at a time when the world’s recovery from the pandemic remains so horribly lopsided, but we can take less controversial creative comfort from work being done well again locally, whether or not it will trouble tomorrow’s juries.

The evidence is there in black and white: from Uber’s poker-faced invitation to ‘Try on clothes before you buy them’ to Guinness’s twinkle-eyed echo of Umbro ‘Goalposts’, there’s a quiet renaissance in town.

That said, there’s no surer signal of business as usual than Sainsbury’s rehabilitation of the people’s (slightly arch) voiceover, Stephen Fry, almost forty years after he first took the advertising shilling.

While Cannes – and other award schemes – are busy simplifying their categories, perhaps it’s time we contemplated Best Use of Stephen Fry?

Laurence Green is executive partner, MullenLowe Group UK.

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