Tag Archives: T-Mobile

The programmes are now as good as the ads

It’s 1987, a hurricane has torn apart southern England, nobody is putting Baby anywhere near the corner in new release Dirty Dancing, and Alex Ferguson has been at Manchester United for a year.

Elsewhere, and slightly lower key, the annual TGI survey of 24,000 UK adults has started to include dozens of lifestyle statements. One of those statements, which has survived to this day is “On television, sometimes the advertisements are as good as the programmes”.

25 years on and there is much debate about the consistent decline in the percentage of people agreeing with this statement about the relative enjoyment of TV ads and programmes.

Dramatic emphasis is added by the fact that this is one of the few statements to have remained intact since 1987. It feels a little like watching a revolution, albeit in market research slow motion; the subtext is that the great British public has fallen slightly out of love with TV ads.

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An Adlantic divide

One of the many marvels of Google is Google Alerts. It allows me to appear as though I am very widely read indeed.

So I thought I’d mention an interesting article I spotted in the New York Times. It was about the fact that the winners of the BTAAs, which took place last week (the ‘beef’ has nearly been digested), are about to tour the US.

The BTAAs were, as ever, a great window into the best British TV advertising. Personal highlights from the winners include T-Mobile’s ‘Dance’, which I will never tire of no matter how many times I see it; The Department of Transport’s hugely powerful ‘Live with it’; and Weetabix’s return to glory days with ‘Steeplechase’.  It was also great to hand over some more glittering prizes to Alexandr Orlov, and to scoop an award ourselves for our TV ad (had to mention it). But I was surprised and sad to see Hula Hoops leave with a lowly diploma. Still, we can’t all agree.

So, to the piece in the New York Times. It began with the headline ‘British TV ads flaunt their arty side’. At the heart of the piece was this thought:

“British commercials have long been known for their creativity and innovation. But from an artistic standpoint, most American advertising, perhaps except for those made for the Super Bowl or the Web, pale in comparison with their British counterparts. And unsurprisingly, British ads have long attracted a huge following in America.”

And it included this comment from Richard Silverstein, co-chairman and creative director of the San Francisco-based advertising firm Goodby, Silverstein & Partners:

“In general, TV advertising has always been a high form of public art in the U.K…People over there watch commercials as if they are entertainment.”

This is not true of all TV ads – nor will everyone agree on what is entertaining – but in general it certainly is true of many of the most successful ads. They entertain and elicit an emotional response. YouTube gives us a nice window into this world of ads-as-entertainment.

Whether or not you agree with the idea that the UK does creativity better (and I’d be interested to know what people over here think), the piece lead me to thinking about how, in the UK, likeable and ‘creative’ ads have been proved to be more effective in business terms by the IPA, in its seminal ‘Marketing in the era of accountability’, and by Thinkbox, in our own Engagement Study.

As an industry, we depend on those brave advertisers who both buy into and buy the work, and who don’t obsess about easier to measure but less significant metrics such as recall. The facts are there that show the business power of creativity.

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TV goes app

Now, here’s a lovely thing that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. The brilliant Barclaycard ‘Waterslide’ TV ad propelled its iPhone app spin-off to become the most popular free, branded game in the history of the iTunes App Store. This is a fine example of TV and interactive media cuddling up and making babies.

BBH’s Barclaycard’s ‘Waterslide Extreme’ iPhone app has clocked up 4 million downloads from the iTunes App Store since its launch in mid-July. It became the top free app in 57 countries.

The Barclaycard TV ad was an instant hit and sparked lots of Twitterface activity.  I loved it too; given that their previous campaign had featured a heartthrob from an all-time favourite TV series, that’s quite an achievement.  Dare (the creative agency behind the app) also created a YouTube channel where people made their own versions of the ad for other to vote on (the excellent tea&cheese’s take on the ad got the most votes).

Apart from actually buying the product, in the ‘olden days’ (like 1998) we could only really show our love for TV ads or programmes by talking about them, imitating them, reading articles about them or buying some related merchandise, like a board game or a mug. We can and do still do all this both on- and offline but, as the existence of the Barclaycard app highlights, we can now do so much more with our TV creative.

We can be inspired to make our own versions, chat in real time about them with people on the other side of the planet, watch extra content, send them to friends, play games based on them or simply watch again. We can even have conversations with the fictional characters that TV ads give birth to, such as the half million Facebook friends and 24,000 Twitter followers of the pre-eminent meerkat of our time.

Of course not every app is as successful as Barclaycard’s but it does demonstrate how potent the TV + online combo can be. T-Mobile’s Life’s for Sharing campaign gets it right too.  Nothing gets the party started like telly and interactive media extends the fun.

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Sounding off

Our lovely cousins at the RAB have made an online TV ad to promote radio advertising. The cheeky blighters have based it around our TV ad, but, as they don’t say much we’d disagree with, we have decided to take it as a tribute. Don’t forget to put the sound up.

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