This post in my series about getting to know America was supposed to be about running, but I’ve just got too much to say about it and can’t find a tight angle.  So for now – advertising.  This is something that in the past month or so has solicited facial expressions along the spectrum of tea-spitting “really” to pelvic floor clenching hilarity but ultimately from a place of marketing respect.

I worked in Marketing for over 20 years in the UK and spent 3 years sucking advertising up with interest as a consumer in Malaysia.  I’ve observed differences and considered them in times of post professional introspection.  In Malaysia tis my interpretation of a simple formula:  Gorgeous but respectable Asian woman or wholesome but respectable male + slogan (or simple dialogue) + ginormous product shot.

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Just .. well.. sort of buy this?

In the UK its a creative movement driven by aspirations of entertainment, titilation and making 30 – 90 seconds of selling something look like nothing of the sort.  Think:  drumming gorillas.  Think:  Indie songs tinkled by a beguiling young female voice at slow speed over perplexing footage of snowmen or foxes on trampolines (wha?”).

Wanna buy this.. errrm?

Wanna buy this.. errrm … what is it again?

In the UK, clients for advertising are not even allowed near the creative artists so as not to irritate their genius with non geniusness.  “But we just want to sell some bog roll..” says client meekly.  “NO!  SHUT IT!  You are selling dreams” says Oxbridge grad London Agency Account Director while deftly shielding aforementioned fragile yet precious creative brains from such nonsense.

Here in America I reckon the creative geniuses ARE the clients.  The clients that is after they’ve been given a double figure pay rise and all you can eat M&Ms to brainstorm whilst down the pub (an enduring personal dream).

One thing I remember being told to avoid at all costs when commissioning campaigns in the UK was…”Don’t put your strategy on show” – well here in the USA, the strategies aren’t so much as on show, they’ve taken their freakin’ knickers off and are waving them about their heads!  Basically the collective strategy is:  buy this shizzle!

I’ve seen some corkers only in the past week.  Examples:

  1.  For:  Morning After Pill

What happens:  Foxy ladies with handsome men with overt twinkles in their eyes in various situations that look like they may well end up with snogging.  Foxy lady realises she’s forgotten birth control.  Batman style super appears above head saying, I kid you not:  POOF!  She remembers said advertised product.  That slightly dimmed twinkle reignites in handsome man and I’ll bet my bottom dollar some snogging soon ensues.

2.  Pots of Fruit in Juice

What happens:  2 x wholesome couples eating competitive brands of above product in park post wholesome tennis game.  1 couple is draining juice from their pot.  The other is not.  They engage in dialogue that confirms one couples juices do not contain added sugar.  Guess what their strategic objectives were?



The downside about American advertising (yes, you are correct in deducing that I’m considering the above as upsides) is that there is ALOT about healthcare.  Much of it features illnesses and conditions you’ve never heard of thus injecting them into your psyche and convincing you you have them and must thus address in order to be as joyful as their utterly healthy protagonists.  These ads are then tailed off with long lists of clauses which seem to me like an exhaustive list of ways to die.  Hey ho what ya gonna do?

Anyway, i will leave you with this.  An end line heard on on a radio ad for a car sales establishment heard as I was considering buying a car:

Wanna pay more for your new Ford? – that’s your business.  Wanna pay less for your new Ford?  That’s OUR business.

Poof!  I bought it.

Poof! I bought it.