A growing challenge for advertisers and agencies: matching the ads to the (iffy) product

If you’re an agency what do you do with a product or service that’s a complete lemon? (Not a DDB/VW lemon obviously.)

It’s hardly a new issue but one that’s more pressing these days as consumers (of everything from food to health services) are more demanding and their complaints are magnified through social media.

Smart Meters GB is aiming high in a new campaign from AMV BBDO, recruiting A. Einstein no less, to proclaim that the aforementioned meters can reduce Britain’s reliance on imported gas (take that Putin), boost renewables and, by implication, save the world. Or our bit of it anyway.

Trouble is these devices from British Gas are worryingly likely, it’s reported, to tell you you’ve used £39,000 of energy in one day and (the ones that do) won’t be fixed until June. A digital transformation and no mistake. Even Albert would struggle with this one.

M&C Saatchi produced this nifty effort a couple of weeks ago for telephone helpline NHS 111, aimed at providing a more rapid response than seeing a doctor (at the moment probably the only option you’ll have as many people can’t see a doctor anyway.)

It all looks pretty seamless doesn’t it? But, of course, it isn’t, being viewed by many (including medics) as a lumpy, not very accurate substitute for proper diagnosis. The NHS is full of good ideas like this one, trouble is none of them seem to work. Probably because they’re devised by external consultants who go private if they fall ill.

What should agencies do? Gently remind their clients that their ads have to bear some relation to reality? Or go into the trenches, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and take the money?

Mostly the latter one suspects although, to be fair, we don’t hear about the over-claiming notions that get turned down.

Can’t wait to see what our estimable Agency of the Year VCCP comes up with for Thames Water.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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