Ad campaigns that advertising creatives dislike on principle.
March 29, 2010
Here’s an odd, fun topic: ad campaigns creative people hate even though they’re not necessarily that bad. Frankly, they might even be brilliant. Doesn’t matter. Something about the concept, execution or casting just makes the advertising purist go crazy. The phenomenon is not to be confused with ads we love to hate. (See my post about Progressive Insurance.)
Take the E-trade Babies campaign. Even though these spots are beloved by Americans, I’ve yet to meet an advertising creative who likes them, let alone loves them. The reason for this –at least the one I’m usually given- is that “talking babies have been done to death.”
Maybe so, but in terms of writing and sheer entertainment value the E-trade babies are hard to beat. Last year the golf-themed commercial killed with a baby coining the phrase “shank-o-potomus.” This year, the only time I laughed during the entire Super Bowl was when that baby said “Milk-a-wha?” Ironic many of the same effete creatives who rue this campaign all agree both spots are hilarious. They just don’t like them on principle. Princi-wha?
And then there’s the Aflac Duck. Not only did this silly bird put Aflac on the map it also simplified a fairly complicated supplemental insurance business. And people absolutely adore the campaign. That is, except for us hot shot creatives. We turn our collective noses up at said duck. Why exactly? It’s good advertising. Corny yes. But it does what it’s supposed to do and then some.
So what gives? Why do over-achieving campaigns like the Aflac duck and E-trade babies get so little love from the creative community? Is it something they said? I have a few theories. Maybe a lot of us secretly like these campaigns and only pretend to disdain them. Like scoffing at Billy Joel even though you know every word to Piano Man. Or could it be the popularity of these campaigns makes them too common for the adveratti to respect, sort of like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars? Are we that conceited…that insecure? Most likely.
Author’s note: Similar in strategy and concept to the E-trade campaign is Geico’s equally popular, “So easy a Caveman can do it.” Creative hot shots adore this campaign. I agree it’s a lot of fun. But substitute babies with cavemen. They’re the same damn concept! So why is one beloved and the other not?
What do you think, Gentle Reader? Can you think of any campaigns that are not up to (our) nebulous standards? Below are spots from the above-mentioned campaigns:
Aflac Duck (first spot ever!):