The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Remember When Ads Were Truthful, Simple & Bold?
July 29, 2015, 6:25 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Audio Visual, Great Ads In History

Contrary to popular belief, I genuinely love the ad industry.

When it’s good, it is very, very good indeed.

However when it’s bad – and I have seen a lot of it recently at Cannes – it’s deceitful, shameful and a load of indulgent bollocks.

There has been a lot written about how Cannes may be ruining the ad industry but I would say the ad industry is doing a very good job of that themselves. Thank god there are a few agencies – of which I am very fortunate to be in one – that don’t subscribe to the scam strategy for success, though I wish the ones who did were named and shamed a bit more regularly because ultimately they are making our lives far more difficult than they should be.

Mind you, if a client chooses an agency on the awards they won through scam, then they deserve all they get.

But that’s not what I want to write about, I want to write about this:

Yes, it’s an old ad.

An old product ad.

An old product, print ad.

But look at it …

Look at the writing – not just the headline, which is British charm at it’s best – but the copy.

How they openly admit how expensive their product is [and don’t forget when this ad came out, 3 grand was probably a years wages for many] … but not because they want to claim it gives you ‘status’, but because it costs a lot to make – and own – some of the best sound products in the World.

It all combines to make an ad that communicates brilliant sound quality, production innovation and brand swagger without once spelling out – or should I say spoon feeding – sound quality, product innovation or brand swagger.

Better yet, they manage to do all that simply and succinctly and in a way that demands to be read, rather than ignored.

Yes, I know it’s from a past time, but when I compare it to many of the print ads – actually, scrap that, ads in general – that get put out today, I can’t help but feel we should be looking to the past for our standards rather than continue to run manically towards the edge of obsolescence. Or idiocy.

Though – to be honest – that statement could also apply to SONY as a company and marketing managers as a whole.

30 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Short copy exudes confidence and clarity.

Comment by John

I knew you’d say that. At least you’re consistent I suppose.

Comment by Rob

It may be from a different time but I bet it would still work today. Though the drummer in Maroon5 doesn’t have the same impact as Keith Moon.
Thank you for posting this Robert. It put a smile on my face.

Comment by George

I’m hoping the M5 reference is because your kids are listening to it rather than you. It’s still a sign of bad parenting.

Comment by DH

It’s like having Ed Sheeran in the room. Only brighter.

Comment by John

I didn’t realise things were that bad for you George.

Comment by Rob


Comment by George

Case study video script.

“Sony challenged us to sell their high quality, high priced stereo system. We did a print ad that said to hear music like the artist is literally in the room with you, you have to pay a high price and people bought it. Maybe because £3000 is still cheaper than hiring Keith Moon for the morning.”

Total duration: 18 seconds.

Comment by DH

that “cheaper than hiring keith” would be a fucking good line. who knew you had it in you. i fucking didnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

That would be the best case study video ever. You’d win regardless of the results simply for not boring the judges to death and not exaggerating the impact you made.

Comment by Rob

it cant be any fucking good because theres no crowd sourcing, social media engagement campaign extension in any of it. or an app. cannes fucking fail.

Comment by andy@cynic

Our Keith Moon app had great engagement and was downloaded 6 times helping Sony achieve 4 trillion audience impressions.

Comment by DH

It’s funny because it’s true.

Comment by Rob

if you think this post shows how fucking tragic adland has become, think how fucking shit it reflects where sony is these days. they cant even make a decent fucking ad let alone a fucking product.

Comment by andy@cynic

We won a Cannes grand prix with an outdoor poster campaign. Just saying.

Comment by Bazza

I know you are being cheeky Baz, but you make a good point. Apple know all you need to make effective communication is to say something clear, simple and captivating. Nothing else. I still don’t think it was GP worthy.

Comment by George

We were talking about it this week. It’s a simple execution and explains the point well but it’s never a grand prix winner. But then, maybe it got awarded for the same reasons we’d award this … it didn’t spout ad-shit and just did something simple, really really well.

Comment by Rob

I had one of those Sony music systems. I didn’t buy it, it was owned by my company but I remember it was a glorious sounding machine and I spent many hours in its presence, listening to my favourite bands of the time.
I don’t remember the advertisement though which is surprising, because it is wonderful.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m guessing this is before your lawyer days Lee or you were at the most progressive law firm in history.

Comment by Rob

I was a lawyer for the music division of Thorn EMI in those days Robert. So it is not as strange as it may have sounded.

Comment by Lee Hill

I love the old charm of print copy. The stuff CDP and BMP used to do on a regular basis. The tagline ‘Higher-Fi’ is pretty decent too.
That said, I was watching some old cinema ads from the 70’s and 80’s last night, and they certainly don’t regularly reach this kind of standard.
In fact one, a Silk Cut ad from 1979, was racially offensive (probably even for the time) and featured hideously bad copy about people switching to the brand in two weeks. Iguana it was not.
Reminds me also of one of my favourite ever print ads, an obscure one for Grundig – advertising its stylish 70’s range of TVs. The main line said “Smart people don’t watch TV. This is what they don’t watch it on.”

Comment by Rob (other one)

where the fuck have you been hiding?

Comment by andy@cynic

That is brilliantly written. The ad, not the blog post.


Comment by Marcus

absofuckinglutely obvious.

Comment by andy@cynic

The ad creates consumer lust. That’s what the best of Apple’s work does. I must have the product. Even now, decades later.
Also, the ad doesn’t insult or pander the reader.

Comment by George Tannenbaum

thats the fucking biggest difference. treats people like equals. smart, in the fucking know, equals rather than this mr bean retard shit that is all the fucking rage. maybe if the fucktard marketing manager stopped for a moment, theyd realise the reason they have to brainwash is because no one gives a fuck about what they are saying, forget selling.

Comment by andy@cynic

This could be an ace display ad.
When is the last time you saw a display ad and cared.
When the digital wankers took over, they forgot the bit about actually writing good ads.
Writing like this could even sell pink shoes to a bloke

Comment by northern

Sony account at BBDO London when ad created, sometime in the mid 70’s
Tim Delaney creative was director.
Old chums who were at BBDO at the time think ad was art directed by Peter Garret and written by Denise who’s surname is sadly not remembered.
This ad was one of many nice ones by the agency including a radio campaign written by a still funny John Cleese.

Comment by John O'Driscoll

was it denise law? this ad was before my time but when i started out i met an ex bbdo writer called denise who gave my book the best fucking kicking it could get. legend.

Comment by andy@cynic

I was at BBDO when Peter Garrett arrived so I can remember him but my memory of Denise is a little hazy. All I can remember that she was very small and a little feisty. I left shortly after they both arrived and don’t know what happened to their careers. I have been advised by others who were at the agency during that period that the ad might have for a charity programme.

Comment by John O'Driscoll

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: