So, are there any original ideas left out there? Is the well of human creativity as dry as a slice of salted Melba toast being chewed on by a dour German philosophy student? Is the world of fantastically creative souls who flirt about the automotive advertising world nothing but a tired and spent bunch of mediocre idea peddlers? Or have the Saatchi & Saatchi slick-haired, nattily-clothed, sports-car-with-automatic-transmission-driving pretenders won the day and have decided to pump nice, yet predictable ads for the masses and pat themselves on the backs?
Let's hope all of the above hypothetical claims are false. But I'll tell you, the ads coming from the Detroit automakers, while nicely produced and mostly of very high caliber, seem to have lost some edge in my view. Not a lot of great creative ideas on how to make an older brand come alive again. Cadillac is trying very hard to be cool in their ads, with fancy lighting, hip music and an open abandonment of the past. But nothing to knock you off your seat.
But there is the other side, the ads that play on history, lineage and pride from previous accomplishments. The Jeep Grand Cherokee did this recently in their ad for the 2011 Grand Cherokee ad that I reviewed recently, and I wasn’t blown away by the selling of the sizzle and not the steak, despite it being a very well produced piece of advertising. It was about the link to the future from the glorious past and thereby making you, the consumer, feel good again about wanting an SUV, a class of car that isn’t setting the world on fire.
And then I saw the ad for the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette and thought, yes, the ad is cool, perfectly edited and filmed, with the smooth voice-over, including the obligatory wild, lurid power slides and smoky burnouts that are rolling excess and joy. But the ad didn’t give me anything new, it was the same juxtaposition of old, “when times were simple and good” images against the new, clean, gleaming machine from Chevrolet with a smile-inducing, spleen-crushing wallop of American torque. You’re supposed to link the two somewhere in your subconscious and then run out and buy one. Yet, it doesn’t make an old brand new again in my eyes.
What will it take to get the masses of asses who troll the web for cool content or sit in front of their cable-enabled, flat screen radiation boxes to wake up and be pulled in by an ad campaign that makes you think about a brand in whole new light? Who has performed this advertising miracle lately? Three guesses. How about Old Spice.
Yes, that Old Spice, that ancient scent that smells like your grand dad did just before he died. The one you wouldn’t apply to your skin unless it was the last thing at the drug store after the airline lost your baggage on your business trip. Old Spice, the body wash/aftershave/underarm armpit juice that has been on the market for decades. However, the ads and the whole campaign are hysterical, they make you want to watch again and again. They are a new take on something old and the creators should be lauded for this. Just watch their ads on TV or YouTube and you will laugh and think this is a cool brand again. And they did it via the web, TV and any new media you can think of. That is re-branding.
Chevy Corvette--take a note. You make a nice ad, but like the 2011 car--which is a madly fun machine with enough power to dislodge your wisdom teeth--take it to the next level and smell the Old Spice. Go crazy, make a new ad and reinvent the brand.
Enjoy the ads.
2011 Chevrolet Corvette