Bullshit Radar Goes Crazy On Bank Holiday Weekend

My bullshit radar is normally on a hair trigger during the week, but is pretty much off-duty at weekends, especially on long ones like this.

However, I was relaxing, leafing through a somewhat nerdy vintage Volkswagen magazine that I read, when something awoke the radar.

At the back of the mag, in the sort of semi-classifieds bit that normally has small ads for car repair shops and parts dealers, there were three small ads, all for Hot Wheels (the toy cars). I been reading this magazine for a good few years and I've never seen any ads for Hot Wheels before, this is what piqued the interest of the bullshit radar initially.

Then I noticed that there was something a little odd about them, they were all full-bleed pics, all with a little logo in the top right corner. They didn't look like ads designed for this space.
Bullshit radar ramps up a little.

On further inspection they all have roads replaced with a bit of flooring - carpet, lino and wood. And no words. They're like those simple, slightly pointless ads you see in some student books and top international creative awards annuals.
I wondered.

And the bullshit radar kicked into overdrive.
Is this a new foray into oblique, strangely targeted ads for Hot Wheels, I wondered? Or are these ads nestling here merely for the purposes of thus being qualified to be entered into some creative awards scheme at some point in the future, perhaps recreated not at their actual size seen here but rather as double-page-spread sized ads?*

Who could possibly know dear reader?
Certainly not me.
If anyone can put me straight either way, I'd be much obliged.
And if needs be I can recalibrate the old bullshit detector.

*For those who are not intimate with the weird and wonderful ways of the advertising industry, and is wondering what the fuck I am talking about here, there is a practice whereby an agency or individuals run an ad for a client (not always their own) in some obscure one-off way just to make it qualify for creative awards schemes. It's just one of the great ways that creative awards have been rendered pointless and self-serving.


  1. The ads are pretty obscure, but after a moment of thought, they're really clever. To a kid with a hotwheels car, the kitchen floor becomes a highway through a fantastic world.

  2. Apparently one of these was put up on a billboard by my flat. For about a day.

  3. I perhaps should confirm that they were made by agency which actually has the hotwheels account and, yes of course, they were done for awards, with clients permission of course.

    Nothing wrong with that is there?

  4. Good bullshit detection.

    I can never understand why juries award ads for Matchbox and Hotwheels that are obviously aimed at ad-literate adults. Look at the history of them (there's always a few in the annuals) - they're miles away from the kind of thing that would make an 8-year-old buy a toy car.

    And if you think that adult collectors might like them, the ads are always about playing with the bloody things, not their collectibility.

  5. Cheers Ben.

    Anon 10:01
    Thanks for the info. As for there being "nothing wrong with that", I suppose it depends what your idea of the point of creative awards is, and also what you think of creating ads just to win awards, doesn't it?
    I think it's lame. Just to be clear.

  6. Ben, don't forget that is is actually the parents that buy the cars for their little ones, kids just buy whatever is loud and cool at the time.

    For what it's worth i dont agree with creating ads just for the sake of awards but i am in favour of finally getting an ad run that the client liked at first, then didnt like, then researched it, then liked again, then forgot about, then didn't have the money for, then decided that they'd seen it too many times and finally allowing them to actually run if the agency pay for it while they run some old crap that they shot 20 years ago.

    sorry, i'm not bitter, honest

  7. I think publications are encouraging this kind of advertising by allowing display ads in the classifieds.

  8. http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/thework/news/898794/Mattel-hot-wheels-Ogilvy-London/

    Surprisingly comment free on Campaign so far


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