Truth In Advertising

It seems we've offically reached the point where the ads in the movie Crazy People are better than the ads made by ad agencies. At least the ads in the film are based on some kind of truth, whilst the current output of agencies appears to be the product of delusion, self-importance and a fundamental and sometimes wilful misinterpretation of behavioural science and psychology. Anyway, enjoy the clips, they're still good value...

If you're interested in making advertising that's based in the truth of why people actually buy the products they buy, cast your eyes over our new book How To Make Better Advertising And Advertising Better - available exclusively at the Design Museum.

Or come in for chat sometime.

Do You Really Know Why People Buy?

Agencies and marketers need a sense check.

They need to ask themselves if they really know why people buy what they buy.

Usually the reality is that most people just want products that simply meet their needs and do what they’re meant to do (some economists call this ‘satisficing’ – when people choose, they don’t always search through the detail of every option available to find the perfect choice).

Most customers don’t need or want a brand to have a ‘higher purpose’ or to stand for something above and beyond the role that the product plays in their lives.

Of course it’s a positive thing for brand owners to feel that their products have a useful and worthwhile place in their customers’ lives.

But many brands are guilty of vastly overstating and overplaying their role in grand ‘brand purposes’.

Who wants to be told how to lead their life by a beer? Or moralised to by a soap manufacturer?

Certainly no one outside of marketing departments and deluded agencies.
“The worst thing about these hyperbolic brand visions is that they lead to equally fantastical and idiotic tactical work.” Mark Ritson, Associate Professor of Marketing, Melbourne Business School.
This kind of self-important approach leads to cynical, patronising advertising that has nothing to do with the real reasons we choose the products and services we use.

People aren’t fooled by it.

For more pithy challenging of received wisdom, our new book ‘How To Make Better Advertising and Advertising Better – The Manifesto for a New Creative Revolution’ – is available exclusively at the Design Museum.


Possibly the best footage of someone really enjoying listening to music whilst driving since Partridge lip-synced his way through Roachford's 'Cuddly Toy' in the opening credits of Alpha Papa.

Make sure you stay with it until 1'49 when the fun level gets dialled up a notch.

Thanks to our good friend Jimmer for bringing the wonderful Queenzflip to our attention.

Good Beer Advertising – Kronenbourg Alsace-tians

Shock, horror – two posts in a quick succession on this blog praising advertising we've seen. Are we getting soft? Or did we just get lucky? We've repeatedly lamented the current state of beer advertising, in fact almost all booze advertising, on these pages – so it's a pleasure to share a new beer ad that is actually good. And also one that's building on what went before it.

Recent Kronenbourg commercials have centred around Alsace and feature Cantona. There was the one about the farmer which attempted to tell a bit of quality story about hop farmers, it felt a little strained but the good execution and Cantona's performance kept it together. With this story about the Alsatians bringing people a nice frothy beer in a moment of crisis it feels like they've hit upon something that they could stick with and run and run. If they stick with this and keep making well-crafted ads they could assume the leading premium-mainstream lager position that Stella used to occupy (before they went mental–Be Legacy, WTF). Let's hope they do.

Cantona gives a great performance. Great opportunities to show people enjoying a lovely, frothy beer in the context of reward and pleasure. Good production values. And great casting – they've avoided the modern cliche of filling the ad full of reallyreallygoodlooking young people.

Hats off.

Two Good Things For A Monday - One Pretty Good, One Great

It's Monday and I bring you two good things - well actually one of them is great, but I'm going to make you wait for that.

First is this new bus ad that's going around for Pizza Express, advertising their new.... wait, I don't actually have to tell you what it's advertising - see how that works? Amazing.

Anyway, it's a good example of a bus wrap – and of outdoor in general. I've seen a few of these new Routemaster wraps and they are pretty good, but this is the strongest I've seen so far, it stands out a mile.

The second thing is this amazing recording of outtakes of Orson Welles doing advertising voiceovers. A couple of things here. Just imagine directing one of the world greatest ever actors and directors in a recording session? Also, what an unbelievable voice he has – he brings something amazing to these scripts. Lastly, imagine a version of the ad industry where people are using actors of his calibre to voice their ads. Draws in to stark relief how dumbed down the work has become today. Anyway, that's a thought for another day. For now just enjoy this...

Are You Irrationally Loyal to the Idea of Loyalty?

Advertising agencies need to remember that, for most of their clients, tangible growth is achieved by getting more people to buy their products, year in, year out.

To best help growth in the long term, agencies and marketers need to end their current fixation with building ‘emotional relationships’ with so-called loyal customers.

Although this may feel good because you’re concentrating on people who theoretically like you, really you’re just wasting money.

This is because a brand’s growth potential doesn’t come from these fabled loyal customers.

“Sales growth won’t come from relentlessly targeting a particular segment of a brand’s buyers. Yet this marketing fantasy continues to appear in marketing plans... This fantasy is harming marketing effectiveness.” Professor Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow (Oxford University Press). 

Long-term, robust growth is achieved by constantly bringing in new customers and light customers. 

Agencies would better serve the interests of their clients by targeting as many users in the category as possible, rather than concentrating on a particular niche group. 

Our new book ‘How To Make Better Advertising and Advertising Better – The Manifesto for a New Creative Revolution’ – is available exclusively at the Design Museum.