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Dan Watts of Pablo picks his Desert Island Ads

Dan Watts is ECD at Pablo.

I’m stranded on a desert island. There’s no two ways about it – I’m not going to last a day. I don’t have the patience to fish (tried it) and I can never remember the rules about drinking sea water.

So, no purpose driven manifestos for butter or mood films disguised as ads for me thanks. I haven’t got long left. My Desert Island Ads need to cheer me up with 50 shades of funny as I succumb to the crabs.

Desert Island Ads

Starting with Skoda. The brief from Skoda cars when they came to Fallon in 2000 was “stop kids crying in our showrooms,” such was the embarrassment of owning one. How do you convince people that these vehicles are no longer a national joke and are in fact VWs in cheaper clothing? You take the problem head on and tackle it with swagger and self-effacing humour. This spot was one of my faves from the excellent campaign “It’s a Skoda. Honest”. Subtle, simple, understated, and confident, just like the new and improved cars. Proof that comedy can take a brand from zero to hero in 30 seconds.

Next up Marmite. When comedy is at its best, it’s insightful and spikey. And when you get insightful and spikey you have a good chance of getting into culture. And if you get into culture, you might just get into the everyday vernacular. Just like Marmite did with You Either Love it or Hate It. That’s Brand Goals right there. It’s such a good line it doesn’t even need an execution to prove itself. But then I’d have nothing funny to watch on this god forsaken island. So, how about this one with a vomiting baby? It’s yucky, funny, and got complained about. Perfect.

Skoda, Marmite. Very funny, but very British. How about a bit of comedy from across the pond to shake things up? Something that gives a belly laugh whilst selling a cut price department store. The US does ads like this so well. Open on the product. Tell me what you’re selling. Make me laugh. 15 to 30 seconds. End frame. Done. Walmart Clown is my favourite example of this. It gets funnier every time I watch it, despite this desert island sand chaffing my buttocks.

No comedy island disc collection would be complete without the addition of a Skittles ad. Piñata Man is another example of what our American neighbours do well..silly ideas played straight. It’s an easy trap to fall into – putting funny on funny. Too often, a silly idea brought to life with a silly execution leads to silly overkill. But this spot is a great example of striking the right balance. Dramatic, well-cast, well-directed, batshit bonkers.

It’s weird, but considering the perilous situation, I’m starting to have a good time on this island. Shall we take the humour up a notch? Something a bit punchy? This one from Outpost.com was made some time before firing gerbils out of a canon got you cancelled. Which is a relief as it’s excellent. Not convinced? Well, follow their endline and send your complaints to Outpost.com. Brilliant.

Have we got time for one more before the sun goes down and the tide comes fully in? If so, let’s take a look at this recent spot from Le Fleur. Brilliantly written and performed. Sells the product with an unconventional approach. Doesn’t feel like an ad. Properly funny in a fresh and original way. Directed by Tylor the Creator and proof of what can happen when you give creativity space to do its thing.

Wasting away on an island is bleak. It’s a bit like living in the UK for many people right now.
But when you interrupt the nation with funny, it can make life a little brighter.

That’s the power of comedy. Make your audience laugh and they’ll warm to you, connect with you and most importantly, remember you.

Heck, they might even buy your deodorant.

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