Nothing to sneeze at…

Written by

Andrew Millar


April 18, 2010

We had our local industry Awards night a few weeks ago. And one of our flock enjoyed some success.

Good on him, I say… well done… even more so because I don’t set an agenda to win awards. I’d rather the advertising we create to work for our client’s profit, rather than ours. Yes, you can win awards with work that works… but frankly, it is rare.

You see as an industry we are rather arrogant. We ask people from within our own ranks to judge our work. Because we believe consumers… the people we expect to be motivated by our ads long enough to arrest the attention of their wallets… we believe they don’t know anything about advertising.

Can anyone else see the irony?

So at the end of our night, while the plates are being cleared, the year’s greatest ad is announced… an ad encouraging flu vaccination by depicting slow motion images of people sneezing.

“Oh that ad was revolting!” the plate monkey behind me comments as the cleared the remains of my alternate drop beef or chicken from in front of me.

“So you didn’t get a flu shot then?” I asked.

“Is that what the ad was for. I never watched it to the end.”

Spot on. And my guess was that his feelings about this carefully crafted image of the forceful explosion of germ riddled mucus and spittle would have been shared by any others…. no matter how poetic and lyrical the conceiver’s ‘favourite aria’ tried to make it. Consumers judged the content of that ad. Not the images in context with the message.

If you can’t get people to watch all the way through to the end frame, you’ve missed the whole purpose of running the ad and the client would have been better off just keeping their money in the bank. (Actually it was your money and my money… it was a government ad.)

For years, I’ve read research that has shown that the more disturbing, revolting, or gross the images in an ad, the less people watch it. It has been the underlying creative consideration for road safety messages for years. Showing carnage does not work.

Anyway. The ad won the agency fame in both craft and creative categories. Fair enough. Congratulations to everyone involved. I’m glad you were all there to receive the applause.

It would have been a pity if you had been home recovering from the flu and missed it.