Advertising musings from a trip to The States

First and foremost, we’d like to apologise for the hiatus… sorry! We have been relaxing in the US. We did however think to bring back a selection of ‘commercial entertainment’ that the States has to offer; a few ads which ticked our box from a creative perspective.

US ad life is an altogether different ‘ball’ game, a business in fact rather than an extension of art and entertainment. Now we know that is a very generic observation, so, do please read on…

In the US, ads are almost considered standard for everything, everywhere. Like literally synonymous with everything!! Sure every day here (in the UK) we are bombarded with persuasion tactics – images, colourful and seductive, humour and a cascade of facts. But in the States, you are literally unable to escape this barrage to the point where adverts feel like unwanted visitors, burglars of your time even! In the States, competition is rife, and companies are attempting to persuade the masses and are not ashamed at what they attempt to do in doing just that… ‘Aaaaaaaaaaand this touchdown was brought to you by Verizon’; ‘Sooooooo, Pizza Hut delivered you that half time’. It’s relentless to say the least.

Ignoring culture as a distinct cause of the gap in creative output across the proverbial pond, we think the best way to sum up the difference is the polarity of hard Vs soft sell. The same general notion of wanting a consumer to buy something is still there, but the American hard sell that is all about information and pressuring the consumer to buy. The UK comes across far more subtle; focusing predominantly on the entertainment factor, which almost says you, tune in if you want to in non-invasive fashion.

That wasn’t meant to come across so much a rant as opposed to a lived and breathed exercise; simple observation. So with all that said, the good stuff… the ones which got into our heads for the right reasons… and stayed there.

Audi “Alien”; Venables Bell & Partners

We can’t imagine many little girls really believe their dad is an alien, but this one does, and she’s even got proof… because he’s an Audi driver. 

This ad brings a welcome touch of humor to what is undoubtedly a class automobile but in a different way than you’d expect. This category (while although still greatly creative) is one which is fairly staid in its approach; the focus has obviously got to be ‘performance’, but the way in which that is asserted doesn’t have to be prescribed and serious. And this certainly isn’t!

Departing from the previous staid, serious approach, this ad does it in such a forward thinking and entertaining way, you have to take note. You feel an immediate affinity with it and it will totally resonate with the sort of high end customer base Audi are after because the ad still very clearly represents a differentiated luxury – with all the usual culrpits of brand innovation, superior technology and efficiency – but in a way you can get on board with.

A child reeling off reasons why her father is not from this planet is always going to get the attention of budding dad. Its a different approach, but pehaps not so different from the everyday life for the dad, and this strikes that emotional cord.

We dare anybody not to watch this and find it amusing, and “the evidence doesn’t lie,” as the girl so acutely signs off with to the backdrop of a silver A6 gliding down the driveway.

UPS ‘Logistics of a game winning play’; Ogilvy & Mather

Sometimes an ad just grabs you; like this.

It is effortlessly powerful and well thought through. It’s smart as it’s not what you would immediately associate with logistics, but that’s it’s pull. And in being smart, it is simple yet brings in that element of nostalgia to capture the attention of the man on the street, the bloke in the pub, the guy in the office. 

It’s a talking point and it means the audience is far more likely to remember being that it invokes a feeling of no other. It also clearly makes a distinction as to what logistics has to do with a football game or basketball game.

See, more than anything, it gets you involved.

But like any well-constructed argument, the ad is built on a single truth – logistics is vital to your operation. Logistics isn’t glamorous, logistics is what is happening in the background that no-one stops to notice; that subtle value. Companies used to concern themselves with logistics because they had to, but this perspective makes you want to concern yourself with it; it says logistics is actually an important cog to ensure everything runs swimmingly. 

Now UPS does good advertising – they produced some great print work at the Olympics for example – but this in particular we think really takes them from a brand of relevance to wondering what they might do next, and what the next ads were going to be like.


Geico ‘Bodybuilder’; The Martin Agency

So who are GEICO we thought during this spontaneous ad.

It is nice and short. But with this short time, you can be very happy on seeing it, because there is an even happier guy directing traffic in it.

GEICO is an insurance company so it was quite apt we saw it when we did as we had just had a crash (in all seriousness – but no injuries though).

This puts an honest smile on your face. Two men strum guitars like they providing the theme tune for a wildlife documentary and chat nonchalantly about how happy saving money on insurance can make someone – then queue the humourously golden moment with the gloriously tanked bodybuilder and his wide grin directing traffic with his muscles.

The only dubious monent in this ad is the questionable statement that saving money makes people “happier than a bodybuilder directing traffic.”

Although we imagine the pull with this ad will wear off, it breaks through the proverbial clutter by getting your attention immediately, and tells you what you need to do ‘to be happy’.

What becomes very apparent at the end of the ad is what the underlying theme of insurance is: ‘GEICO gives you what you need, when you need it’. It’s hard to be more product centric than this ad. We are insurance; insurance is GEICO.



Finally, Samsung ‘Kevin The Dog’; 72 and Sunny 


Chosing a phone has now become like choosing a TV or a computer. Mobile phones have become gateways to the total content universe, but there are so many specifications and ways to hit your needs. So the brands undoubtedly need to advertise well.


We share the view that Apple is king, that is not to say however that we don’t appreciate the ability of a Samsung. Taken individually, the tech specs of the iPhone 5 are matched or surpassed by competitors’ phones, and Samsung especially, but no one other company truly knows the value of the total package like Apple.


That said, this Samsung ad is cheeky and very entertaining. What carries this ad is undoubtedly the remarkable dog and his trickery, but that is underlined with some key phone specifications including screen resolution and operating system strength. The ad simply delivers the message, in a branded way, to highlight how amazing moments can be captured and shared in an instant.


‘The next big thing is here’ is possibly too ironic a line to finish the ad on but then that could be a glorious still for print work!?  Great ad.


Madison Ave


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