Not original but definitely relevant

No blog would be complete this week without mention of Saatchi’s new T-mobile ad. First of all, I should say that I really liked it. Without looking at it from a marketing perspective – I think it was a huge success because it was great fun, had real scale about it and brought people together. We are living in pretty grim times at the moment and it made a welcome change to see swathes of happy looking people enjoying themselves for free by singing. It was a great advertisement for London. From a communications perspective – I thought it also achieved its objectives as it managed to combine an execution that mirrored the brand proposition and without going overboard, the footage that I have seen on YouTube is real spine-tingling stuff.

 When I went to read about what other people were saying, I was really surprised. Surprised because they all agreed. Unanimously, the response seems to be positive. I was quite surprised to be honest. When the first T-Mobile ad came out (Liverpool Street Station flash mob), the big complaint leveraged at it was a lack of originality. “This is just a rip off of ‘improveverywhere’ came across from a lot of planning blogs that I read…and it was even pigeonholed with the Skittles/Modernista debate.

 So it made me think about why perceptions seemed to have changed. My thoughts are that it has changed solely because of the scale of the exercise. When “Life is for sharing” is executed in a train station with a few hundred people as it was in the first ad, it feels like a reverse fit. That is to say, an agency team who sought to take a great idea and apply it to their brand. It didn’t feel ‘huge’, it didn’t feel original and it wasn’t that engaging. When the Trafalgar Square incarnation came about, the location  and the sheer quantity of people participating made it seem so much more relevant to the brand and as such it seemed much more engaging.

 A friend of mine has written a great piece on originality and relevance and outlines where brands should and shouldn’t be very succinctly:

  • Good Position to be in #1: Impress me with something truly original and engaging.
  • Good Position to be in #2: Impress me with something that is inspired by other stuff, but is relevant to your brand.
  • Good Position to be in #3: Annoy the hell out of me. I may not like it, but I’m talking about it and I remember it.
  • Bad Position to be in: Do something that I really couldn’t give a toss about. It’s neither here nor there. It’s a non-campaign. You’ve spent the budget, but the campaign is beige. MOR. You’re the Coldplay of the Advertising/ Marketing world.

This campaign falls squarely into category 2. It also highlights that execution is as important as idea…

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