Jan 09

The Ad Industry Is Dead, Long Live The Department Of Propaganda

FT6 comments • 332 views

One of the knock on effects of the downturn, nee the credit crunch SOON TO BE PROPER ACTUAL RECESSION EVEN UNDER OFFICIAL DEFINITIONS is there is less frivolous money banging around in industry. Cutbacks come in more profligate and somewhat unproven areas. HELLO advertising, an industry puffed up with its own importance but a general lack of all that much in the way of concrete evidence that its work really improves sales. The Cadbury’s drumming ape after all did more to drive up sales of Phil Collins Greatest Hits that it did Cabdury’s*.

I saw this ad this morning and it told me where all the ad pounds are going.
Singing food stuff in a DEFRA advert for not importing food from outside the EU. It appears the upshot is that as ad prices go down and ad agencies scramble for work the benificiary is THE GOVERNMENT. Yes, its another Government bail-out. And yet thinking about it, the history of British ads is littered (literally) with the morphing of somewhat clunky old school public service announcements into hard hitting or clever ads. From the immensely successful AIDS: Don’t Die Of Ignorance, through to the recent moonwalking bear ads, the UK Government has a pretty good record of tossing out memorable ads. This could be because many of them are warning us, and come it various shades and bone cracks of pain, horror and misery. Which is what makes this DEFRA ad so refreshing, that it uses humour (and well judged humour at that) to tackle and issue that no-one ever really thinks about.

And while ads may not always drive up sales, they do have a much better record in raising awareness. What’s not memorable about singing cheese**.

*OK, I don’t have the Collins Greatest Hits figures.

**Mind you, who would want cheese from outside of Europe? Except aerosol cheese of course.


  1. 1
    Geoff on 5 Jan 2009 #

    I would happily pay higher taxes for more adverts like this

  2. 2
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 5 Jan 2009 #

    i would like to see the figures on how much MILK attempts entry by this means!

  3. 3
    Alan on 5 Jan 2009 #

    the ultimate sanction: DELAYS!

  4. 4
    Simon on 5 Jan 2009 #

    The COI (aka the GOVERNMENT) is consistently one of the top 5 ad spenders in the UK, along with the likes of P&G and Unilever. While their share of total spend may increase this year, I can’t see them increasing their outlay greatly to “prop up” the market.

    Although the precise effect of advertising on sales is unknown (as John Wanamaker may have once said), this is a fairly robust piece of work showing correlation between spend and sales – http://thinkbox.tv/server/show/nav.850

    This is a great ad though

  5. 5
    SteveM on 6 Jan 2009 #

    ‘**Mind you, who would want cheeswe from outside of Europe? Except aerosol cheese of course.’

    Surely a little paneer now and then.

  6. 6
    Pete Baran on 6 Jan 2009 #

    You can make paneer here with no hassle. I am guessing no paneer you’ve ever eaten in the UK was made outside fo the UK.

    Interesting article Simon, which I may wait for more knowledgable people from thte field to dissect. It strikes me though that any research into the efficacy of advertising has to work around so many factors its difficult to pull out the strands (and there are key issues with branding which differ widely across the who range of consumables). What many successful ads can do, and be easily proven to do, is raise the awareness of the ad itself, and this the content / star of the ad. This is fine in the Pantene world, you see the shampoo in use. I just wonder about a drumming gorilla and its overall Cadburyness.

    (I think it will be unlikely that I will ever see a airport carousel again without thinking of this ad!)

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