What is the hallmark of a great ad? One that appeals to and resonates with audiences of all ages? One that portrays the product’s benefits in a truly original, genius manner? One that is being talked about decades after it was initially released?
Ticking all of three of these boxes is certainly no mean feat, but the Smash brand of instant mash potato managed to do so with consummate ease in 1974. With its Martians, Smash made the greatest TV ad of all-time in the process (in both mine and Campaign’s humble opinion).
Featuring a group of Martians mocking us “Earth people” for using such a laborious process to make traditional mashed potato, the concept was so simple, yet so effective in creating humour to sell the product.
The brainchild of John Webster (a brilliant documentary on whom can be seen here) and Chris Wilkins, I’m struggling to think of an ad that has replicated this simplicity so effectively, even 43 years later.
And, as great payoffs go, they don’t get much better than ‘For Mash Get Smash’.
So, next time you find yourself in a creative meeting, trying to come up a great big idea, remember that, instead of looking to the future, it might be better to look to the past.