Some ads live, some ads die.
Some ads get more interesting in rotation. Other ads wither, and before long they're an agony. Without the blessing of TIVO, we're obliged to watch them like someone out of Clockwork Orange.
Take the case of "What if delivery people run the world." This is an ad for the Blackberry Curve 8350i with Sprint Nextconnect. (See the ad on YouTube here.)
There is nothing egregiously wrong with this ad, but once we've seen it twice it becomes 30 seconds of tedium. The only thing that lives is the kid stuck in the locker.
Now consider the case of "Yard Sale," the AT&T FamilyTalk Rollover Minutes. (See the ad on YouTube here.) This ad is a joy. We have seen this campaign a lot in the last few months. So the pretext, the son who wants to jetison roll over minutes and the mother who wants to keep them, is familiar.
There is lots to love here. The son's reference to the AT&T minutes he's trying to give away as "antiques." The neighborhood women who looks on in astonishment as the argument between mother and son rages. The neighborhood kid told to "beat it, kid."
The neighborhood lady does a little eyebrow flash that sums up her attitude, as if to say "this situation is completely unfair, what are you going to do." (I can't capture it with Snagit. Above, to the right, is the look of solidarity between the Lady and the Kid.)
Good idea, good execution, good acting in the first case, great acting in the second. But it's hard to say why one ad should reward reviewing and the other should feel like a punishment.
I think it comes down to very tiny details that we don't see at first. That eyebrow flash is minute but I have grown to love it. The trouble with the Blackberry/Sprint ad is that the moment you get the theme, the ad reveals itself too fully. It's old before it's over. The good thing about the AT&T is that it doesn't play to form.
But I don't doubt that we could do a better job than this figuring out why some ads live and others die. See Alan's brilliant comment below illuminating why this ad works so well.
In a TIVO era, with the very business model of the advertising agency now in jeopardy, this feels like a compelling opportunity for urgent anthropology, or, as I was typoed it in a grant application, argent anthropology. Email me, if you are interested in pursuing this theme.
Many thanks to Roy Elvove, Director, Corporate Communications, BBDO North America and Worldwide. Here are the details on the creative team at BBDO.
Agency: BBDO New York and BBDO Atlanta
Chief Creative Officers: David Lubars and Bill Bruce
Exec Creative Director: Susan Credle
Creative Directors: David Skinner and Darren Wright
Copywriter: Peter Alsante
Producer: Julie Andariese
Production Co: Smuggler
Director: Chris Smith
Editorial Company: Beast (New York)
Editor: Jim Ulbrich
Visual Effects: Spontaneous (New York)
Fox, Jason. 2009. Who Does AT&T think they are? Holiday Inn. The Adhole, February 23, 2009. here. [By an astounding coincidence, Jason and I both wrote about the AT&T campaign yesterday. His focus was the "Milky minutes."]