Friday, February 26, 2010

What makes a great ad a great ad?

Canada's Marketing mag presented six tv spots featuring their products as sponsors for the winter olympics. Readers were asked to view and vote. One was for Tim Horton's about a family immigrating to Canada. One was for Canadian Tire where a dad dresses his little boy in hockey gear for his first skate. Molson's was an anthem piece about being Canadian as was HomeDepot although HD's was toned down considerably compared to Molson's. Bombardier's ad was about their having designed the Olympic Torch. And the sixth one I can't even recall. Oh Yes, it was for Air Canada, but I don't recall the spot.

All of these ads, except one, are variations on a hackneyed theme. Yes, the music is different, yes, the cinematography is different, yes, the creative team is undoubtedly different. All of them try to be tear jerkers or make you want to place your hand over your heart, however, they are all big budgets, over art directed, written with a heavy hand and with little content. More importantly all these themes are beyond worn out. They are dated in their thinking and thus the corporations they represent. And this is important because over time and over many creative teams, the corporate spots the agencies are generating are just knockoffs of previous ideas. One could argue that it is the idea of repetition that is going on here, but surely if that is the case, all the more reason not to repeat the same scenarios. It is one thing to stick with a positioning line for a corporation, quite another to just repeat the same scenarios over and over, which sadly with one exception, all these other spots do.

Again, the one gem among them is the Bombardier spot. I mentioned this tv ad in an earlier post but it is worth mentioning again because it contains all the right stuff to me. It takes place on a windy mountainside someplace in south america where llamas are herded, candles are lit and the men still smoke. It's a fun idea about fire going out each time someone tries to light a match and how they could use an Olympic torch. The music sets the tone, the art directing and writing is perfect and the one line is delivered in Spanish, but you don't need to know the lingo to get what is being said.
In a few words; It is charming. It is memorable. It is recallable. It makes you smile and feel good. And most important of all, it has the rare distinction of being an ORIGINAL IDEA.

It's called "Keep the Flame Burning" check in out on Youtube.