otis will be turning in his grave

One of the most soulful songs in contemporary music history has been adopted for a so-so car ad I’m sad to say. The song of course is Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay and for some inexplicable reason Renault’s advertising agency have used it as the sound track to the TV ad for their new Laguna model. It’s a hauntingly poignant piece of music delivered by one of the all time great soul singers but, that apart, I just cannot see the relevance of the song to the car or the marketing message. This goes something like some people pick a car for it’s safety features, or its looks, or its performance etc but the Laguna has them all. Umm if you say so Renault. But how this relates to a guy passing time just watching ships coming in and out of port escapes me. Am I missing something? Sorry not a bad ad but a complete mis-match with the music. 5 out of 10.

On the subject of ads, it’s Xmas! as Noddy Holder once said, in case you hadn’t noticed and there’s the usual selection box of crap ads around. A particularly annoying one is the Tesco ad with the Spice Girls, who are being paid, it’s said, ¬£1m each for their fine acting skills. The premise is that all the girls are buying each other Xmas pressies in a Tesco store at the same time. And I think we are supposed to be tickled by their efforts to avoid bumping into each other. It’s actually shot/edited really well and the girls aren’t totally wooden (unlike the Bjorn Borg/John McEnroe howler from Tesco earlier in the year) so why am I being so negative? Well it’s just the thought that they’d ever in a million years think of buying each other Xmas gifts from the store. Is it likely Victoria’s going to pop over from LA to do that do you think? I don’t think so. I know it’s a bit of festive fun but it does look like extravagance marketing so just 3 out of 10.

Whilst we’re on the subject of supermarkets and celebrities ads Asda and Morrisons are both at it too. Asda have their celebs apparently working in-store for some reason. I’ve seen one with James Nesbitt and another featuring Victoria Wood I think and one with her old oppo Julie Walters. They’re all toe-curling but thank god they dropped Sharon Osbourne – that was train-crash advertising. 2 out of 10.

Morrisons have adopted this celebrity ad thing as their core idea all year. The first outing starred Denise van Outen and it was weird. Since then they seem to have ditched her and focused on ‘man of the people’ Alan Hanson, Diarmuid Gavin and Lulu. The Xmas ad seems to feature them all. I read that the ads have been hugely successful – they’ve certainly spent a fortune on airtime – and I suspect that’s the reason they’ve worked. But what do I know? I just think they’re corny and totally implausible. 3 out of 10.

The problem with Xmas ads is that as a genre they are almost always devoid of real creativity. Mostly it’s jingle-belly type music or Slade and some C list celebs kissing santa under the mistletoe. But two decent ads have caught my eye. ‘Here come the girls’ from Boots is just great. Target market using the product to maximum effect. Context, relevance, impact all spot on and a great music track. 9 out of 10.

The second great ad is for John Lewis stores and features people piling a load of gifts suitable for presents in the middle of the floor of an empty room. Spotlit from behind, the gifts cast shadows on the wall which gradually build up to create a silhouette of another festive scene. They are really engaging ads and make you want to watch them over and over again. They remind me of something else – is it the crap Orange ads for phone/broadband I’ve written about before or the Honda ‘parts’ ad perhaps? Yeh that’s it. Just really stand out advertising. 9 out of 10 too.



2 thoughts on “otis will be turning in his grave

  1. Paul

    Have you seen the new Xmas ad for Marks & Spencers? It follows the campaign of the models through the ages but is shot in the style of 40’s/50’s/60’s ads. It has a really nice soundtrack to it (the name of which can’t remember) and has a completely new approach to festive advertising. Twiggy and the other girls all look amazing – especially Claude Makalele’s missus who I believe you have mentioned in a previous post?!

    And then it all goes downhill when ‘He’ is played by Antonio Banderas…

  2. hi russ

    yep a really clever pastiche ad. how to make an ad for women’s clothes that women enjoy and, because of noemie, men can smile at too. i like the guy in the band who looks like a leering Clark Gable. great ham acting which Ant can’t match i’m afraid. do you think there’s got to be a sequel? Gone with the Windcheater?

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