Monday, September 03, 2007

Never mind the brand bollocks, here's experiential marketing...

Not sure what he'd have made of this. Not a lot, probably.

Now, I'm not a very big Sex Pistols fan (sorry Marcus), to be honest. A bit before my time - and I think they're one of those bands you have to have either been alive during their ascendency, or have some tie to their music, and I have neither (that said, I love the Clash).

But I thought it'd be useful to discuss what made them such a good band in light of what the ad community finds itself in at the moment - what would appear to be the battle between conventional branding and experience.

The Sex Pistols, as I've said above, to me, are all about the raw, visceral experience, something which is magnified by actually being there. Now, there are other forms of music (yes, some of the Clash's stuff), which don't really require the 'being there' experience.

And I think the same is true of advertising.

Let's have a look at the current ad du jour, that of Cadbury's Dairy Milk:



And there have been a few comments already from respective ad bloggers.

First of all, let's consider this in light of what we know already. Cadbury's DM is the first choice in consumers' minds. Market leading, yada yada. So, just how much conventional planning does there need to be for something like this? People get their entertainment experience, and it makes people laugh.

Look at one of the youtube comments: "I think it's just a fun advert, nice and simple - Just like dairy milk! :P"

And let's consider it in light of when the media was sold - during Big Brother, ultimately the best example of throw away entertainment today. So it fits its target audience, who just want to be entertained; no sort of intellectual posturing will work here.

What is potentially troubling to those who don't like the ad, it would seem, is that there's no obvious connnection between the product and the ad. The worry is that it won't do anything for Cadbury's sales, but get people talking about the gorilla drumming. I'd love to see the recall stats for this ad. But does any of this matter for Cadbury, who are number one anyway?

Let me tie this post together. Bluntly, I think there's a bit of a dichotomy between conventional brand planning and the more fast and loose experiential work at the moment. Additionally, I think both are beginning to inform on each other - the Cadbury's ad is an experience, pure and simple, and more and more experiential work is adopting more brand cues - look at some of the work Iris have done for Sony Ericsson (most notably 'Gig in the Sky' and 'Night Tennis').

Unlike a lot of the people in the threads posted earlier, I'm not worried about planning's role in all of this - surely, its role was to advise how best to reach the target audience for Cadbury's DM (I'm guessing 15-30 year olds, but I could be wrong) and what would maximise salesamongst this age group. Now, I'd love to see what the sales figures are like afterwards, just to see if planning/advertising is changing beyond just meeting business expectations, as Marcus proposes here.

Brands, it would seem, have the greatest success when they latch onto a zeitgeist, or create one themselves. Both experential marketing and 'normal' branding can do this - but it may lead to the conventional lines of what planning is changing. And it perhaps asks a bigger question - does this matter?

Are we getting into 'Ads for Ads sake' territory here?

I don't think so, but one thing's for sure - the devices we are using to inform our audiences are blurring the techniques that underly it all.

11 comments:

neilperkin said...

Nicely put Will. Personally I really like it. I take the point about how untraditional it is but for me, it works.

vanessa from salt lake said...

I'm not familiar with this brand (I'm from the western US). Is the ad consistent with the brand "personality"? It feels a bit random to me, but maybe that’s because I don’t know the product. Any additional insight for an outsider would help me understand this, I think.

np said...

This is all well and good, but what about the Smiths?

Will said...

Neil - I like the ad, and think only a market leader in a product category such as chocolate could have done it.

Vanessa - No, the reason it's provoked such discussion is that it's so different to Cadbury's usual work, most of which tends to be centred around the notion of sharing, happiness and family. It's a Postmodern ad, much as I dislike the term.

NP - I have posted about the Smiths and advertising before: http://wannabeadman.blogspot.com/2007/06/formed-band-we-formed-band-look-at-us.html#links

But don't worry, The Smiths vs Boney M battle has me concerned - where did all those Boney fans come from? I think you're going to have to step up those tactics.

vanessa from salt lake said...

Gottcha. Thanks.

Sandrine said...

Funny - I read your article about your ad yesterday. First meeting in the office today and someone says "Have you seen the Cadbury-Gorilla ad ?". So I go back on YouTube and check it again. I like the ad. I like it because it's not like an ad. It's a nice "artwork". It's nice to watch but will people recall the brand ? I dont know but at least it surprises people. So I like it. And I'm going to blog it tomorrow ;)

cardhippy said...

the gorilla ad made me laugh out loud. i wonder if, when non ad-industry folks see the brand name stuck at the end, they feel like they are being used. that's how i used to feel when i'd get 'viral ads' sent to me. no matter how clever or entertaining the content was, the fact that it seemed like a branding effort cheapened the entire thing.

Will said...

Cardhippy - I've never had a problem with branded entertainment stuff, be it virals or otherwise. What I do question is how successful it'll be to help make a purchase.

Maybe I'm just a overly enthusiastic ad guy? I don't know. The acid test is the 'down the pub' qual I do from time to time. Can my non ad friends, under the influence of alcohol, remember who did what..?

Sandrine - whether people recall the brand/whether sales go up as a result is precisely my concern. We shall see...hope they do.

Steponfrog said...

WTF?
Ahem....

Can I just say I how responded to the advert upon first seeing it?

FYI: I'm 33 years old, non working, more a house-husband. I don't like chocolate as it tends to sting the back of my throat when I eat it. Cabury's is a well known brand in my house. The missus eats chocolate for about 1 week in each month (get what I mean?). My humour can be conveyed in a YouTube video I submitted a while ago.. search for "Vinnie Of The Rings".

My feelings on the advert:
------------
I first saw the new Cadbury's ad about 1 week ago. I was sat infront of the telly watching something (that I can't even begin to remember) with my partner. The adverts came on halfway through whatever we were watching.

My attention wasn't captured at first, because it was just advert time inbetween whatever was on, and my brain sort of switches off, or goes into standby mode, during adverts.

The camera moved from left to right, in a slow, progressive motion. Some frames later, and there's a bloody gorilla. My thoughts at this point were: 'what?', 'eh?!', 'oh it's a gorilla... this is going to be another crap advert for something s**t' and 'do I have to listen to Phil Collins', 'Oh, I remember that gig I went to in Manchester at Old Trafford, that was an alright gig, but I wouldn't go again' and so on...

I particularly like the expressions of the gorilla; sneering, a visual grunt (as in 'go-on, get away' when the camera gets too close, with the sneer), and the lung clearing (close up on the nostrils, and large intake of breath through the nostrils, although, I can't remember if there was any focus on the chest or upper torso as the gorilla breathes in - I think it's more something that I've filled in myself). There's some cricking (forcing tendens, like cracking your nuckles, but with the neck) and shortly after the gorilla begins drumming with precision to the drum beat from the Phil Collins track.
Now my attention is at its height and I'm waiting for another monkey trick to happen, but nothing much else does, only that the gorilla has an earpiece in its left ear.

I relate to the emotion of drumming and that implied by the music, and I feel this is expressed by the gorilla in a very human way throughout the advert, especially when the drumming begins. When you start a session of drumming, in the way that 'In The Air Tonight' begins, the drummer has to express emotion to the percussion for it to carry through the timing and pressure needed to purvey the feelings of emotions implied by the lyrics. The gorilla does all this, and together with the camera angles, and movements, the emotions of the song are better implied than they are just listening to a cd.

When the end of the advert came, my awareness was heightened, I expected to see more, but wasn't bothered that none came, and I began thinking of ways to convey meanings in other things.

I felt, and still feel, that the Cadbury advert simply made me smile. I don't associate the advert to any Cadbury product in particular, only the company itself.

Friends I've spoken with, and my partner and colleagues at her workplace, have all discussed the 'Gorilla in the chocolate advert', so with respects to the replies on this site regarding 'getting people talking', the point must now be entirely true. However, as regards to nipping out and buying a bar of chocolate because of an advert... I don't think so. As I said previously, I don't eat chocolate, and the missus only does so for 7 days each month.

But, can I just put this to everyone?... perhaps the amount of talking the Cadbury advert has provoked is another way of advertising with the hefty costs? 'Of course,' you may say, or 'p*** off, you haven't got a clue what you're on about' may be more the point.
My example is this: type some keywords into google (or ISE of your choice); use any, or all, of these words, or even similar: gorilla, chocolate, drums, drumming drums, phil collins gorilla, phil collins chocolate.... Don't use the brand name Cadbury's, as this is an obvious result. See what websites are returned to you. I'll bet both my hairy ones that the majority of text that is returned in your searches will result in the Cadbury being used somewhere along the line. All that advertising for free! Sneaky, sneaky.

Sorry it's a massively long reply.!

Anonymous said...

Hello.

I'm wondering if you would be able to help me further with the Cadbury's NEW advert - you seem rather clued up and in the profession of advertising so your help would be most appreciated. My contact email is : wweisebay@gmail.com

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