Filed under: Comment
So I was in Australia a few weeks ago.
As I settled down to a bloody wonderful breakfast at one of my favourite old haunts in Balmain, I opened the newspaper and came across this …
Normally I’d pass right past this sort of ad, but this time I was stopped in my tracks.
Not because it was about Hot Cross Buns.
Not because I’m a fan of Heston Blumenthal.
Not because I was interested to find out what the bloody hell Lemon Myrtle was.
No, I was transfixed because it was a ‘scratch and sniff’ ad.
SCRATCH AND BLOODY SNIFF.
I haven’t seen one of those since 1978.
And you know what, I did scratch it and the smell was pretty good.
In the old days, regardless what the ad was supposed to smell like, you were always overwhelmed by the whiff of newspaper print … but not any more, oh no, because when I gave this a good sniff, it actually spelt like Lemon Myrtle.
OK, so I didn’t buy any but that’s more because I was flying back to Shanghai within a couple of hours than the ad not creating intrigue and – to be honest – desire so well done to Coles and their agency for doing something new/old that utilised one of the oldest, and greatest, selling attributes of food … smell.
Now normally that’s where the post would end, but the thing is, there are many people out there that would view ‘scratch and sniff’ ads as something best consigned to history.
They tend to be the same sort of people who view any ad from before 2000 as dated, irrelevant and lacking creative spark.
Those people are wrong.
In these days where we seem to spend oodles of time promoting image rather than substance, there’s something wonderful about those old ads. They demonstrated a real knowledge of what their audience needed to know/feel/see to change their habits and minds. Better yet, they took this information and created communication that spoke directly to their audience but in simple, intelligent ways.
Sure there was a lot of shit out there … but amongst all that, there was some real gold … and I’d dare to say that proportionately, there was more of that then, than there is today, despite the massive upsurge in the number of brands advertising.
We talk about adland being entrepreneurial but I don’t know if we really are.
If we were, we’d constantly be looking for ways to grow our clients business rather than focus on how to retain their advertising fee.
Of course, clients have to shoulder some of this blame because they want agencies to make them ads, not make them even more successful … which is why I kind of hate how as an industry, we constantly look to the future while jettisoning the past.
Sure, there’s something wonderful about constantly moving forward, striving for the next new thing … but if the cost of that is to classify anything that has previously worked as ‘old and wrong’, then we must all be bloody mental.
It might be old fashioned, but I still believe the basis for great communication – great communication that has real commercial value for our clients – is knowing the audience better than the client knows their audience.
I don’t meant that in the sense of ‘Women 18-54’, I mean in the sense of understanding what people really think, feel, want, fear – the things that represent what is really going on in their heads, not just in their actions – because when you know that, you don’t get ruled by which medium is the latest, coolest or biggest to use, you choose the medium that lets you engage, inspire, intrigue and involve your [broad] audience in the best possible way and in the case of that Coles Easter ad, it was a bloody scratch and sniff press ad.
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