Benjamin Amdur: Postcard from Australia

BenAmdurPicture.jpgBenjamin Amdur (pictured), formerly a senior copywriter at FCB Malaysia, comments that judging by his bank's advertising he thinks they sell tampons.

Astronauts floating in space. People riding bikes. Chefs cooking. Kids playing. Old people having tea. Rollercoasters, trees, sunsets, sunrises, people looking at the camera. A young person striding determinedly forward.
Pretty inconsequential imagery on its own. One thing having very little to do with the other. Put it all together, add some rousing music, an inane voice over that tells you your bank is in fact 'the future' and what you end up with is the latest in a long line of "stock shot montage" motivational woohoo ads, and yet another brand trying desperately to be something they're not.  

Happier New Zealand.jpgIt's exhausting having to watch one after the other emote the same way about tampons, a car or the latest phone. All of which claim they fulfil some need for empowerment and the quest for inner Zen.

This is the state of play in brand advertising as far as I can tell. Your bank is not just a bank, your insurer, not just an insurer, and even your car isn't just a car.

"We're your escape, not just a mid-sized SUV!" Really? Do we honestly think regular people believe any of it?

Not that I'm diminishing the brand advert in the slightest, but when I see ten commercials in a row, all blending together, depicting the same fanciful aspirational life, the only difference being the logo at the end, I can't help but ask, where's the impact? Is it really so hard to tell a unique story?

Happier New Zealand 2.jpgThe best commercial I've seen in recent months is for 'New World' supermarket, based in New Zealand. The commercial 'Happier New Zealand' has a simple premise, New Zealand is the eighth happiest country in the world but 'New World' is trying to make New Zealand number one by being good to their customers, whoever they are. Sounds ripe for a big swinging montage doesn't it and yet, they've stayed away.

They don't take themselves too seriously. They're just a supermarket. It's a really wonderful spot, crammed full of sweet, funny, memorable moments. It's an ad about being happy that makes you happy. It's a great creative idea. I wish I'd done it.

I went to New World. They were helpful. They were friendly. Their advertising is true. No BS. Where in the current crop of dead serious motivational montage brand adverts is the memorable moment? Where's the hook? The truth? The idea?

I know we have it in us to do better and create ads that the consumer can actually believe. We have to get back to being storytellers, messengers, and merchants, not gurus.

3 Comments

Pseudonym said:

'But if we don't do a montage, how can we be all things to all people?' - every client in Australia.

The young set said:

Don't forget the Manifesto read by a Celebrity - M&C

Alf said:

I think the main difference is one that you have noted yourself - the people at New World were true to the brand's values.
Strangely, this is quite rare. Most brands simply aren't authentic. How they see themselves (or the role they fill in people's lives) is usually very different from reality. The end is an ad or communication that isn't authentic. It has nothing to do with the power of 'storytelling' (one of these bullshit buzzwords that the industry likes to use these days).

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