One of the perils of writing for a magazine about advertising is being aware of a lot of advertising.
Some of what comes our way is great, most of it is unremarkable, and some of it is so bad as to actually be insulting.
Sometimes, painfully bad advertising is forgivable—if it’s by a minor company with no money, marketing staff or agency. It's different when it’s by huge multinationals.
Take a look at this, which is currently gracing the TV screens of Japanese homes.
To flog us its Craftea brand (which, let’s be honest, is surely anything but ‘craft’—but that’s another topic), Coca-Cola has managed to worsen the impact of an already quite irritating Australian celebrity chef with an even more irritating voiceover.
The cheesy expressions, the two voices going at once, the sheer lack of effort and yes—craft—in producing this commercial, make for something that’s like a parody of the worst advertising from the 1980s—or possibly the 1950s.
Then we have another Australian, the rugby coach Eddie Jones, telling us to “discover the winning way”. To be clear, he is selling a copy machine.
What does any of his extraordinarily wooden delivery (subtitled in Japanese) have to do with what he’s trying to sell us? Why is he competing with an awful "futuristic" synthesiser soundtrack? Why are his own words completely out of sync with the movements of his mouth?
Where is the pride in any of this work?
I can’t answer these questions, or explain how things can have degenerated so far from a previous Fuji Xerox ad featuring Eddie back in 2016 that, while hardly the best thing I’ve ever seen, was not absolutely terrible.
With ads like these, you send the viewer three possible messages, none of which is desirable:
- I don't think your time is valuable
- I simply couldn't be bothered to create something half-decent/non-patronising to show you
- I don't need to, because you're unintelligent enough to be impressed and buy my products anyway
All I can say in 2018 (we are in 2018, aren’t we?) is, please—no more.
No more using celebrities (or semi-celebrities) as a stand-in for an actual idea. Or, if you must go down this route, at least make the person watchable.
No more half-hearted adaptation of internationally produced work for local audiences. Certainly no more dubbing.
Before opening the door to this kind of work again, do this instead: stop for a moment, think, and show some respect for your audiences, for the profession of marketing, for the art of production, and for your own brands.