There are a lot of bad ads out there.L’Oreal churns out a seemingly endless series of identikit ads featuring bland celebrities swishing their improbably long glossy hair or inspecting their flawless wrinkle-free complexions and declaring themselves to be “worth it”. Price-comparison sites jostle for our attention with crass cartoons and hammy opera singers. And then we have Glade, whose advertising conveys us to a depressing parallel universe where intellectually challenged housewives confuse plastic air freshener dispensers with art. Meanwhile, the advertising for bespoke greeting card company Funkypigeon.com is so ghastly I feel embarrassed for the agency responsible. And Mr Muscle and Cillit Bang have clearly decided that you can’t be too cheesy when it comes to shifting product (although I do commend to you the techno re-mix of a Cilit Bang classic to be found on YouTube – see below). Given such a dazzling array of contenders (and I haven’t listed them all by any means) picking a winner for the TV turkey of the moment wasn’t easy, but pick I have. My personal nomination is Swiftcover. For those who have been living abroad or are fortunate enough not to possess a TV, the Swiftcover ads feature aging punk rocker Iggy Pop and an Iggy Pop puppet, both in an advanced state of decrepitude. Thanks to the speedy service provided by Swiftcover, Iggy and his sidekick have plenty of time to indulge in their favourite rock-and-roll pastime of driving around aimlessly, shouting. Now it is possible (or even likely as the campaign has been running for some time) that it is effective in driving sales. But that does not make it good. If you spend a lot on media and your product is okay, you can succeed despite bad creative. The question is: how much more successful they could have been with a decent ad? To be fair, the Swiftcover advertising isn’t all bad: it does have a unique selling point and the cross-channel integration is great. The problem is what it says about the brand and the unnecessary, inappropriate and no doubt expensive celebrity endorsement. At best (and probably only if you are 50 plus), Iggy might be considered rebellious and cool. But these are not the characteristics people look for in an insurer. What most of us want is someone we can trust to come good when some idiot smashes into the back of our car, someone sensible, efficient and reassuring – in fact, all of the things that Iggy and his puppet are not. Which is ultimately why the Swiftcover campaign gets my turkey vote. That and the fact it isn’t funny.
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