Our Creative Copywriter, David Warfield is tired of brands being criticised over claims their Covid-19 ads are too similar in tone and appearance. Here he explains why right now, its each to their own.
Quit bashing pianos, self-appointed pedestal sitter. An advert with a piano is not a cliché.
Stop professing that it is, because it isn’t.
It’s a holding device, something that elevates a tone or assists in bringing a story to life. There’s been a fair bit of ad slamming going on in recent weeks; videos highlighting the similarities of brand responses and phrases used…
At first, I wondered whether I agreed with the slamming, but it turns out – I don’t.
Because in producing responses that work for brands, this period isn’t about worrying whether you’re playing a similar chord, it’s about making sure you’re playing the right chord, at the right time. And that’s tough when reactive advertising has entered into a whole new ball game over these...
(Sounds too formal. Right-click, left-click synonym)
(Don’t like that one)
(Can’t use this, Boris said it a bunch of times already)
(True, but so is my Nan)
(Quirky, I like it)
We’ll use that for the remainder of this article.
Call it any of these buzzwords; you’ll get the same reaction: an eye roll. But it doesn’t really matter how many times it’s said, it doesn’t make it any less true.
Last week a man broke into my apartment complex just outside of Cardiff at 9am (this is relevant, I promise). He scaled the roof, walked past my window, and jumped through somebody else’s. He later stole a J20 and Budweiser from a closed local restaurant, getting caught on CCTV in the process.
All the while I sat in a combo of gym shorts and my best flannel shirt, oblivious to it all – just inches away, pitching a TV spot to one of our creative agency’s clients on Zoom. We’ll get to that bit later.
But before we do, here’s the thing – from the above example, it is clear that there is no one correct way to respond to bizarre. Maybe you want to respond by breaking into houses at the same time the people in said houses are waking up. Probably shouldn’t – but you might.
Or maybe you want to respond by picking up a new hobby, like painting or becoming a part-time social media politician. The point being that the way you respond to bizarre will depend on your brand. Are you a criminal? Do you live for ideas? Do you like to test yourself?
Brands need to find the correct chord for them and their audience right now, and shouldn’t care what the self-appointed people on pedestals judging from afar think about their choice of music or messaging. If it works for the story, it works for the brand.
Here’s the other thing… Yes, we are all facing these bizarre times together – but no we are not facing them at the same time, rate or indeed emotion.
This is about playing that correct chord, at the correct time. Something, which right now, is nigh on impossible even if you have a team that are willing to work around the clock to be ‘reactive’. Not least because our circumstances are changing constantly but because these changes are reacted to differently, by everyone.
Up steps insight boffin:
“But we know that in week one people were fearful, week two they were sad, week three they started to become angry, four – disgusted, five sad again, and now they’ve become slightly more neutral as we begin to enter into a new nor…”
Boffin number two interrupts:
“Really? That’s not how I felt in week three?”
Of course you bloody didn’t.
Over these time frames, it has been impossible for advertising to remain ‘Covid responsive’ because audiences are moving through behavioural adjustments intensively.
Unfortunately, the idea of playing that right chord at the right time is effectively a punt in the dark right now because we don’t know how audiences are feeling each time they’re hit by a media spend. But finding and sticking to the right chord for you and your audience in the first place is not a punt. It is sensible.
Stay true to you
In recent weeks, we’ve all experienced a heightened sense of feeling, and in our isolation, we have been forced to take a step back from the world. Gaining a new perspective on it in the process.
The right side of the brain has officially taken over. For the most part, we’ve become empathetic again, and altruists have skyrocketed. Unless you’re reading this whilst en route to an arranged rave in an undisclosed location… In which case you, my friend, are something else.
As for the piano bashing – in this split second there is no way to know whether people are sat watching TV in an angry, sad, fearful or disgusted state. They might also really love pianos. But what we do know, for the most part, is that ads celebrating connections and relationships have once more reverted to top our agenda.
The note a brand plays should depend on its audience, nature and nothing else.
Budweiser found success in bringing back a classic;
Women’s Aid seized our attention by saying nothing;
And our most recent ad for Clogau (shameless plug) captures the hearts of a nation through its use of relatable poetry, packing a powerful punch through genuine photography.
Oh, and it has a piano in it too.
About the author:
Creative Copywriter, David Warfield is a Creative Advertising graduate from Falmouth University. At S3 Advertising, he plays a lead role across creative projects and uses the power of imaginative ideas to help brands bite big.
Have something to say about his opinion? Drop him an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at System1:
- IPA online webinar: Lemon and culture of Empathy in a pandemic
- Book: Lemon. How the advertising brain turned sour.