Friday, 24 July 2009

Britain's most memorable ads - the common link

There are many small pleasures about being an English abroad. One of them is being able to hear BBC radio thru my Mac. Believe me when you find the local language totally impregnable it is a real joy to hear your language across the full gamut of the BBC's portfolio.

This morning, as usual, I woke and munched corn flakes to the dulcet tones of Nicky Campbell and Sheila Fogerty. I'm not really fully awake at this time but one of the features that did stick with me was a piece on a recent survey into the most memorable advertising ever produced in the UK. So my work-based interest was piqued.

What was interesting about this latest ad poll (and don't we Brits love a survey about our favourite ads by the way - shows how high we regard the craft I believe) was that it focused on what made these ads memorable and helped to keep the ads and brands in our minds for literally decades.

Its the common or garden jingle (or sonic branding if we're looking to update the language) - a truly powerful tool.

Number 1 in the poll is Smash 'For mash get Smash', regularly voted as the UK's favourite ad. The BMP created Martians campaign and catchy jingle transformed the brands fortunes. And it despite the product all but disappearing from the kitchen - the ads still linger with people. It is a classic example of a brand being hard-wired into our brains. You say Smash - and I say 'for mash get Smash' without missing a beat. And in a world where we are almost tyrannised by brand choice - this ability for certain brands to create 'heuristics' (rules of thumb for quick decision making) in people's heads is a potent tool.

The other ads in position 2 and 3 are linked by use of music but in a very different ways

R White's Lemonade - made in 1973 but aired incredibly until 1984, its a classic jingle in that it was specifically created for the campaign. Written and sung by Ross Macmanus (Elvis Costello's dad) - 'The secret lemonade drinker' tune was a huge part of this ads enduring charm.

In at 3 is Guinness surfers. Created by AMV, written by Walt Campbell and directed by Jonathan Glazer and yes perhaps the most visually arresting of all the examples. But don't underestimate the power of that pulsating Leftfield soundtrack 'Phat Planet'

Here's some of the other poll toppers: Wall's Cornetto 'Just One Cornetto', Shake'n'Vac 'Do the Shake and Vac', Kia Ora 'I'll Be Your Dog', Mars 'A Mars a Day Helps You Work, Rest and Play' , Kwik-Fit 'Can't Get Quicker Than a Kwik-Fit Fitter', Club Biscuits 'If You Like a Lot of Chocolate on Your Biscuit Join Our Club.", Cadbury's Flake – 'Crumbliest Flakiest Chocolate'.

All classics, all driven by their sonic branding, all essentially made famous through TV advertising (and lots of it) and all created in the pre-digital age (bar 'Surfers')

So what I'm wondering is whether in the age of digital fragmentation if the ad industry hasn't slightly lost sight of the power and potential of the honest jingle or powerful soundtrack. As more campaigns move from being created for TV and simply 'put up on You Tube, to campaigns actually being devised with digital media in mind as its lead means of distribution. How many are really using the full power of aural stimulation and how many will stand the test of time like the jingle-tastic examples above?

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