Good Ad / Bad Ad #1

Tall. Without brains.

Here are two recent TV ads that’ve gotten my attention—for very different reasons.

Good Ad: Volkswagen’s “Tall Girl”

For my money, a great video ad has two things:

1. A scenario that’s relevant to the product it’s promoting.

And, relevant to that…

2. A hook the intended audience can identify with.

This ad for Volkswagen’s Up! does both of these brilliantly.

First, its scenario touches on some fundamental truths of modern dating.

I’m a 29 year-old bachelor who’s been on more than my share of online dates. And maybe I’m just insecure, but finding out I’m unexpectedly shorter than my date has always felt more than a little emasculating.

That said, let’s look at it from a woman’s perspective, too. (As the ad does).

Searching for that tall, dark, handsome stranger? The taller you are, the smaller your suitable dating pool is going to be. (Especially if you like wearing heels!). Common sense, really.

So in short, for the modern woman, Mr Right is also Mr Height.

Volkswagen uses that truth to tell a brisk, charming, and wholly believable self-contained story in one minute, that most modern singletons will instantly identify with.

I like that it’s experiential: it’s more about the audience than the product.

It’s also playful: watch the the guy’s face change between 8-11 seconds.

And it saves the best for last: visually revealing the “surprisingly spacious” hook the instant the last bloke steps out of the car; his head half off-screen for emphasis.

It’s so effective, in fact, that actually spelling it out at the end with text actually feels a little heavy handed.

The end message: Volkswagen gets an important part of my modern lifestyle, and therefore gets me.

Clever. Clever. Clever.

Love it.

Bad Ad: EE’s “No Brainer”

On the flip side, a bad ad throws together a scenario and hook that at best work together tentatively, and at worst feel like someone spewed ideas onto a whiteboard before filming them.

A really bad ad then covers over the cracks with celebrity endorsement, hoping you won’t notice.

Such is the case with this Kevin Bacon fronted “gem” from UK network Everything Everywhere.

What I dislike most about this ad is that I can feel the copywriting being spoken.

Not necessarily in Mr. Bacon’s delivery. Which is as good as you might hope for from a bored, later-life Hollywood B-Lister.

But if you pause for a second, you can see where they’ve followed advertising conventions to a tee.

Here’s the method spelled out, along with the reaction it hopes to elicit from you:

• Grab the audience’s Attention: “Hey, it’s Kevin Bacon in a cafe. what’s he doing there?”

• Get them Interested: “Full english, surely!”

• Make them Desire what you’re selling: “Oh cool, that family with all the expensive gadgets could be us.”

• Give them a call to Action: “I’m off to the EE store first thing tomorrow”.

All of which might not be so bad, if the scenario and hook actually worked together.

They don’t.

Indeed, they feel totally dissociated both from each other, and the product they’re being used to promote.

A working-class family, using high-tech gadgets, in a greasy spoon cafe? Not exactly what I’d call a “No Brainer”.

(Also, what does swimming attire have to do with anything?)

The end message: EE is the network for cheap people with a lazy, obvious sense of humour.

Think I’ll stick with O2 or Three.

In conclusion

It’s important to note that both Volkswagen’s and EE’s ads follow the A.I.D.A. method. But only one of them covers the seams. And that ad tells a story which sticks in the memory for all the right reasons.

What do you think?

Find yourself nodding? Think I’m way off the mark? Let me know in the comments below.


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