We all need silly stuff

13 Mar

It’s hard not to argue with a statement like this. I love silly stuff. I pass on and share a lot of silly stuff that lands in my inbox or on my Facebook timeline every week. But an ad that is 100% pure silly stuff? Really? Have a look at this:


I could be wrong, but this seems to be a direct response to this ad:

So, we have a phone company creating a 60 second ad showing a cat trying to be a dog, and a phone company creating a 60 second ad showing a kid and a cat on a bike singing ‘We built this city on rock and roll.’

Dear God.

Did someone somewhere forget the meaning of the word advertising? You have 60 seconds (a luxury in these straitened times) to tell people something good about your product. How they might benefit from it. Why it’s better than its competitors. Just one thing. I remember we pitched for one of the 118 Directory Enquiries companies that sprang up after 192 became a free for all. They had absolutely no edge over their competitors, but they had a pet dog that hung around their call centre. We begged them to let us use the story of the dog to present them as a bunch of really nice people, but our begging fell on deaf ears. At least we tried. 

So, what’s the message that Three, one of our nation’s largest phone providers, want us to remember? That less calls than ever are being dropped? That they have the best 3 and 4G coverage of any provider? That they have buddied up with an entertainment brand to give us cheap concert tickets? No. It’s that we all need silly stuff.

I’ll leave you to decide whether the singing girl/cat combo is silly enough for you to pass on to all your FB friends. But even if you think it is, what is it advertising? What is the O2 cat, an ad that has garnered millions of views, actually advertising? Or is it enough to be liked? Well, here we hit a pretty major problem. O2 wanted to be liked and brought out their cat ad. Three decided that it also wanted to be liked and brought out their cat ad. So it’s now down to which cat ad we like. Without any stats, facts, figures or sales messages, these two competing brands are now competing on winning the hearts of viewers by creating memes which they hope will be shared virally and whose success is measured in hits and likes. This is not called advertising, it is called entertainment. And once we become a bunch of entertainers rather than salespeople, we have to wonder what we all got in this for.



3 Responses to “We all need silly stuff”

  1. Simon May 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    I think you’re living in the past Mr.Bayfield.
    It’s about brand building, not necessarily selling a product or a ‘thing’.
    Everyone knows that phone companies sell the same shit at the same prices so now it’s about creating brand ‘love’. If there are two brands out there doing the same thing at the same price etc. but one of them is more on my way wavelength than the other then i’ll go for that brand. Yes, both of these ad’s have a cat in but that’s not really relevant as they’re talking about different things. And what’s wrong with people in advertising becoming entertainers? Surely that’s better than salesmen!?!

  2. biblejohn May 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Better to be an entertainer than a salesman? Did you just write that? Bloody hell, let’s fill our agencies with comedians and clowns and watch our clients’ sales go through the roof.

  3. Simon May 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Yep. Because you can entertain someone first and then sell to them. We’re living in different times now, audiences are more cynical than ever. Why do you think ads like The Epic Split go out and entertain first…

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