Archive for the ‘Let's discuss ads’ category

Children See, Children Do

September 5, 2010

Every once in a while a commercial comes along that stays with me long after I have switched off the television. Such a commercial is, more often than not, a public service announcement (PSA). A PSA has an intrinsic quality which appeals to me through the sheer force of its message.  The consumer in me is at ease while watching a PSA making it easier to be drawn to one. The situation contrasts sharply when I view an ad for a branded product. In latter case, I imagine a long-range radar antenna installed on the crown of my head critically detecting product features, benefits, and possibly estimating costs. It is no wonder my posts include more PSAs and non-profit ads than any other category.

I saw NAPCAN’s commercial weeks ago. It is a disturbing clip of children emulating actions of adults.  I do not have a list of criteria to check off when selecting a print ad, a commercial, or a spot for my blog. The measure I use is really the ad’s capacity to inhabit my thoughts. The 90 second NAPCAN spot fits the bill.

Benign acts of using a public telephone and waiting behind the yellow line at a railway station gradually descend into pernicious behavior. Scenes in the spot depict cruelty to animals, road rage, racism, verbal and physical abuse, and worse. The pattern when mimicked by children takes on a magnified hue that is deeply unsettling.  It is upsetting to watch a girl trample a cigarette end with her foot as she follows her mother off of an escalator. There is a sense of impenetrable sadness when you see innocence lost with a flip of a little finger.

The clip ends on a positive note with a man helping a woman gather her spilled groceries. The children join in. The message is powerful and is put across in no uncertain terms.

The commercial, developed by DDB, Sydney, was launched in 2006.

WARNING: You may find this public awareness commercial disturbing.

Call to Action

August 6, 2010

A stimulating idea simply executed makes for a compelling ad. What first drew me to this visual call for donation from GRAACC, Brazil was a clear contour, a minimalist approach to presentation that ensures the focus remains on objects in the center.

The photographs of children are cleverly juxtaposed against their grown-up pictures in similar poses and settings. On the face of it, innocent illustrations that emanate symmetry, a sense of earthly equilibrium between what has been and what would be. It is in fact a perfect set up for what follows in the last frame – a cancer stricken child’s photograph placed adjacent to an empty casing. As the full impact of it strikes the viewer, there emerges at the bottom a telephone number. What brilliant timing and placement for the call-to-action (CTA)! The image of a smiling child, unmistakably struggling with a deadly disease when placed beside a blank frame kindles a deep (and familiar) desire for the promise of a future full of possibilities .

An advertisement’s capacity to persuade is a significant indicator of its success. How long the response time is to the CTA determines if the ROI was well worth the effort. If it persuaded even a handful of people to pick up their phone and dial the number on the screen, then the GRAACC ad has done its job well.

Oil Spill: No Laughing Matter

June 18, 2010

I would leave this National Geographic Kids print ad out of my collection if it weren’t for the recent oil spill catastrophe, one that is being slated as the “worst environmental disaster in U.S. history”.
All of a sudden the image of extra-terrestrial beings laughing at our callous treatment of the environment gained heightened relevance. Considering the context of the oil spill, FoxP2 of South Africa does hit the mark – Aliens in their spaceship evidently making jokes about humans’ decimation of earth’s environment. The copy reads:

“Let’s not be the joke of the universe.
National Geographic Kids
Make earth proud”

It has been two months since British Petroleum’s offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded, and spewed enormous amounts of oil into the ocean. As oil continues to gush into the Gulf, reports in the media have estimated that the flow rate might be as high as 60,000 barrels a day. After repeated efforts to contain the leak, there has been some success in diverting oil by use of underwater robots. Meanwhile, work continues to build relief wells that will eventually and hopefully kill the spill.

It is anyone’s guess the havoc this accident will create in deep seas. Marine scientists have observed unusual crowding of fish, sea turtles, mullets, crabs and rays along coasts of affected areas; dolphins and sharks have been seen in shallow waters – not really surprising, is it? They’ve been thrown out of their home and driven to the edge – quite literally! One of the most heart-wrenching images has been of oil-drenched Brown Pelicans, soaked to their skin in toxic oil. The birds who recently came off the endangered species list have, in a way, come to be symbolic of this collective tragedy of ours.

Take a look at the before and after pictures here. What a contrast these present!


As the story of this utter devastation of marine ecosystem continues to unfold – an interesting racquet ball game is being played out between federal officials, politicians and BP management. The headlines have transitioned into cover stories and editorials but my fear is that these will quickly give way to fresher, more interesting news that promise to capture eyeballs.

The National Geographic magazine ad sort of did its bit (perhaps unintentionally!) to help this cover story run for just a bit longer…

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The Power of One

March 26, 2010

Long before Twestival, there was television.

With the time for Earth Hour fast approaching, I’ve seen the number of # earth hour tweets increase exponentially on my Twitter account. As I go through the tweets I realize that long before hashtags, protest groups on Facebook, and online social change networks – in general before social media for social change became the norm; television was largely the broadcast medium for Public Service announcements (PSAs).

A PSA in the traditional sense is usually the result of a collaborative effort between an ad agency and a non-profit or a government outfit with its primary goal being ‘awareness for a cause’. Over the years, there have been numerous memorable public interest campaigns. The Power of One, produced in 1993 by the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Foundation in cooperation with the Earth Communications Office is one such outstanding creation.

It’s a montage of compelling images interspersed with powerful words that highlight the strength of one person’s conviction – of making a difference and creating change.

I think it is unequivocally a masterpiece on an artistic level. In terms of statistics, how far was the reach and how deep the impact is something I’d like to find more about…

Here take a look. Then switch off the computer for Earth hour, please.


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Ad Icons

March 21, 2010

Reading my prior post about Amul billboards got me thinking about other ad icons. I was amazed at how many of these exist out there. Pillsbury’s Poppin’ Fresh, Air India’s Maharaja, Marlboro’s Marlboro Man, Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, 7Up’s Fido Dido, Michelin Tires’ The Michelin Man, and on goes the list…

Judging from such a large presence, their role is apparently an important one. They help make a brand more recognizable in the marketplace. But really, is their raison d’être merely providing an easy identifier to the brand. Or is there more that is achieved by these ostensibly ubiquitous images?

Ad icons are carefully characterized to embody the brand they represent. They help make a brand human with lifelike traits. Thus differentiate it from the many others and make it stand out. Or what Seth Godin would call making of a purple cow in a field of monochrome Holsteins.

Tony The Tiger 1st appeared on Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes boxes in 1951. With a ready smile and a friendly demeanor, Tony gradually won over consumers of all ages, especially became a favorite of children. Fido Dido – the cool dude of 7 Up appealed to the cola drinking young adults in late 80s, through the 90s and is still going strong.

Do you have a favorite ad or brand icon?


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Orange: Together We Can Do More

March 14, 2010

I included this Orange ad in the series just because it makes me smile every time I see it. The defiant young boy’s expression is priceless. Imagination is indeed a powerful thing. And when combined with the universal reach of sports, football in this ad, makes for a great concept.

Orange launched this communication campaign to coincide with the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola. Flawless execution of “Together We Can Do More” by Publicis Counseil of Paris…



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Happy Feet

March 13, 2010

Okay I admit it. The title of this post is not exactly a tag line a.k.a slogan from an ad. I borrowed it from the 2006 animated feature film Happy Feet. But De Lijn’s (Belgium’s National public transport company) 30 second commercial does have a lot in common with the film. For starters, there are penguins who embrace togetherness to survive. There is subtle humor to drive home a point – that travelling in groups can be good to lighten increased traffic congestion.  Showcased in a fun way, the January 2009 spot  illustrates that advertising need not be overbearing to promote positive behavior change. It deservedly won a Bronze at the New York Festival for best TV-animation.


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