1966 and all that

The spoof 1966 ad has been  on a billboard across the road for a couple of days now.  It makes me smile everytime I see it, although I never did get round to looking up the weblink to find out who was beaming these calming thoughts at my husband and son.  I missed the row about the other spoof ad  – the working women should all be shot one –  until it had all blown over and I stumbled across it on Twitter.

This proves either that a) advertising isn’t as important as the agency wanted to demonstrate; or b)  it is, and the Mumsnet row amply demonstrates the point; or c) it only works when backed up with word of mouth – nowadays massively amplified by Twitter and other social networks;  or d) I’ve been confined to the house by snow and anxiety for much too long and need to get out more.

Spoof advertising isn’t a new tactic, of course.  The Guardian launched a  range of non-existant products when online retail really started to take off, to try to prove that people would sign up for anything if it had a website attached.  And 1966 has been scooped in the spoof advertising stakes this very month by those hilarious  “We can’t go on like this” ads featuring the lollipop-headed David Cameron and some vacuous verbiage about not cutting the NHS.   Hats off to them for testing the boundaries of the medium, of course.  But can’t help thinking they need to hire someone who knows how to use photoshop and a copywriter (and a policy advisor) who might really be capable of making Britain think.

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2 responses to “1966 and all that

  1. A long time ago, the assumption was that PR (aka free publicity) would be used to support an ad campaign.

    Now the approach has been reversed. Ads are designed to spark free publicity (PR if you will). Look how well it worked with ‘The Best Job in the World.’

    The tell tale sign is the election poster that only appears in one location. It’s not there for the public – it’s there for the cameras. Much cheaper.

    Welcome to the longest election campaign of our lives.

  2. I once heard a very senior Eurocrat (talking about the implementation of the single market) say “1992 will happen; the only question is when.”

    And if we’re thinking about ads that leave themselves open to spoofs, I remember seeing an ad for Bruce Springsteen’s first ever British concerts in 1975, where some wag had doctored the slogan to read “Now [CBS has blown its advertising budget for the year to make sure] the world is ready for Bruce Springsteen.”

    More seriously, how effective is advertising on social networks? The marketing agency I work with has been urging us to develop a social media strategy. They produced a well-researched and intelligent strategy document which persuaded me. But alarm bells rang when I saw the implementation plan included a Facebook ad. Were we really going through all this just to do web ads? Was it just the ad department trying a new route to get us to advertise?

    They tell me that it is a highly effective and targeted channel. They assure me the results are tangible and measurable. I don’t use social networking sites (I spend all day at work in front of a computer; I don’t want to spend all evening at home in front of one as well) so I have no sense of their effectiveness. But given that I tend to tune out ads in print media and speed through them on Sky+, I wonder if the same would happen on Facebook.

    And as for David Cameron, I would refer you to Billy Connolly’s comment reported in the Guardian’s review of his Hammersmith show this week.

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