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Robin highlights that this month’s IAB Creative Showcase results contain ‘not a single banner in sight’. That’s slightly misleading as both the winner, Lean Mean’s ‘Non-stop Fernando’ and the first runner up, Dare’s ‘Vaio online script project’ both use traditional ad formats at promotion.

It’s the second runner up however, glue’s ‘Potato parade’ which I just don’t understand.

The original BBC Micro.

This happens to be the same week that the inventor of the BBC Micro, Steve Furber, received a CBE. Do you remember the excitement when that arrived in 1981?

I can vividly recall the huge hopes we all had, and then the slight disappointment when the beige box couldn’t do what the computers on the telly did – expectations had been set a little high by AirWolf and KnightRider. However we struggled on and, again, I can remember vividly the moment that wrote my first – admittedly a bit pathetic – computer program. It was BBC BASIC and what it did was ask you what your name was “ENTER YOUR NAME: (flashing cursor)”. When you did this it would spit back “HELLO TOM” (or whatever you put in, it wasn’t that shit).

So back to the potato campaign. It says, “TELL ME THE NAME OF YOUR FRIEND: (cool animation)”, and then – rather than just saying “HELLO <your friend’s name>” – it creates an animation of dancing potatoes, which I’m then supposed to email on to my friend, colleague, mother, ‘sweetheart’ etc with their name in the animation.

Why?

It might be really nicely designed, it might have the voices and animation of British favourites Aardman. But why on earth would I do it?, and what on earth has it got to do with potatoes?

Perhaps I’m missing a segment of my brain and this makes sense to everyone else, but as far as I can see, glue could have used the same campaign for any product. It doesn’t say anything to me about the manufacturer (McCain), the product itself (potatoes), it doesn’t make me want to buy or eat the product or anything like it. What is it for? And why is it winning awards? Unless it’s winning for its use of the craft, I just don’t get it.

And how did people find it in the first place? Assuming it didn’t circle the globe twice in a fit of viral-ness. The entry from glue says:

‘The Potato Parade has only be live a week or so but has been sent on by 125,000 people in 124 different countries. Including most of our mums.

Hmmm, really?, ranking the 194 countries of the world in order of economic size that would mean the campaign had reached Chad…

What’s the betting a couple of potato-shaped banners have been deployed too!?

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Comments

  1. Hey Tom – “glue could have used the same campaign for any product. It doesn’t say anything to me about the manufacturer, the product itself, it doesn’t make me want to buy or eat the product or anything like it” – surely you could say the same thing about Fallon’s Gorilla ad for Cadbury? Now, I’m not saying it’s in the same league as that, but you get my point….

  2. Well I agree with you that there’s nothing in the Gorilla film that relates specifically to Cadbury’s Dairy Milk but I don’t think that’s the point. Fallon is – I presume – hoping to get the viewer to add associations of pleasure; stolen slightly guilty moments to the idea of their chocolate bar – like you might think of Santa or ‘holidays are coming’ when you see a can of coke’. So the next
    time you’re at the supermarket trying to decide which chocolate bar to buy, CDM is slightly higher up your shortlist. Or, they could do worse than use large druming gorillas on their POS so people can relive that association right there.(And of course, they’ve sold a lot of Phil Collins records!)

    But what on earth do McCain want us to do or think: dancing potatoes?

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice, harmless piece of fun, but what on earth is it winning awards for? Surely creative awards in advertising must still be about creative work for commercial ends, unless they’re about craft like D&AD.

    The other problem is this ‘viral myth’ that the brand can successfully attach itself to a viral message but I’ve gone on about that far too many times already!

  3. I’d say glue are trying to do with this (I make no comment on their success) exactly what Fallon did with Gorilla. I defer to Faris to elucidate further:
    http://farisyakob.typepad.com/blog/2007/09/the-gorilla-in-.html

  4. I know you’re making serious points and the done thing would be to make some serious points back, but can I just say that’s the funniest, best written blog post I’ve read for a good long while – cheers.

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