Monday, 29 April 2019

Accentuate the negative?

I've always found going into a T K Maxx store rather like stepping into a Baz Luhrmann musical. You're not quite sure what will happen, but it will certainly be vibrant and colourful and over-the-top. The latest ad in a series of quirky films for the store uses the creative ploy of turning doubts into full-blown dance-til-you-drop "definite dos."

It's an off-the-peg creative strategy, to turn potential negatives into unique positives for the brand, but the execution is definitely made-to-measure for T K Maxx. It's completely in brand character, and there's never the risk of the brand taking itself too seriously.

Which brings me to my second exhibit. Carlsberg. The Orson Wells voiceover "Probably the best lager in the world" signed-off one of the classic campaigns of the 70s, 80s and beyond. That "probably" was a word that said 10,000 other words - understatement, wry humour, self-deprecating amongst them.

But what have the Carlsberg marketers and their agency partners done now? Taken a classic advertising line at face-value, re-brewed and redesigned their product and all that goes with it and "launched its most ambitious and honest consumer facing campaign ever." The line is now:

Probably not the best beer in the world. So we've changed it.

This article by David Mitchell sums up much of what feels simply not right about this approach. As he says, "Probably the best lager in the world didn't feel like a serious claim - it just made you fond of the brand because it was humorous."

Fond of the brand - that's what marketers want, isn't it? Instead of the understatement and wry humour, will all the hand-wringing and hair shirts and po-faced blah-blah about honesty and higher purpose really lead to people having a little place for the brand in their heart, at least now and then?

Probably not.

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