Toblerone ads A welcome addition to Christmas

In this column, two consumers reflect upon their experiences in the marketplace. A male consumer and a female consumer alternate from issue to issue.The toblerone ads are back. Hurray.I guess nobody else thinks they're quite as important as I do, because...

In this column, two consumers reflect upon their experiences in the marketplace. A male consumer and a female consumer alternate from issue to issue.

The toblerone ads are back. Hurray.

I guess nobody else thinks they’re quite as important as I do, because I don’t hear them being sued by the Ontario city of Scarborough as the province’s Shaw Festival was when it advertised there was as much murder and mayhem in a play it was running as in Scarborough.

Or being blamed for the collapse of the modern work ethic as the cne was when it playfully suggested in an ad that people should call in sick to attend the opening day of the Ex.

Or even being talked about much around the coffee machine.

But they’re back for a second year, so they must have worked. And since I like good advertising, I’m glad.

In case you don’t drive, or you drive with your eyes closed, or you live somewhere where they aren’t, the Toblerone ads are billboards.

Taste and style

They are selling expensive Swiss chocolate bars as Christmas gifts, and they are doing it with taste and style.

They are playful, both visually and with words, sort of like those warm, fuzzy Campbell’s Soup billboards a while back. They use lots of white space, and a nice typeface, and they sneak up on me instead of ordering me around.

I’ve only seen two so far this year – last year’s were all different – but I think and hope there will be more.

One has the Toblerone bar sticking out of a stocking, with just the letters ‘To’ showing, and the headline says, ‘Oh What Fun it is to Hide.’

The other uses one little triangle-shaped chunk of a Toblerone bar, sticks a star on top, and says, ‘O Swissmas Tree, O Swissmas Tree.’

I think the advertising crew, whoever they are, has done a great job. It’s a good media buy, a good seasonal strategy, and a charming execution that matches the tone of the product.

If the sales staff have done their job as well, some time in the next few weeks I’m going to see a display, and feel good about Toblerone, and agree that the bars would make a nice gift, and buy some. What more could any advertiser ask?

Going down

Okay. Now that I’ve paid somebody a compliment, and since I’ve got some more room here, I’m going to tell you about an advertiser that is rapidly making me less likely to buy its product.

You may have heard of the company. Bell. More specifically, Bell Mobility. Still more specifically, Bell Mobility radio.

Terrific stuff

It started out a couple of years ago doing really terrific stuff. It had that Goodyear guy – in fact, I think it had him first – and he was genuinely funny. (For Goodyear, most of the time, he still is.)

He was making fun of himself, which is a good way to be funny for anybody from George Burns to Eddie Murphy; and he was making fun of the competitor.

But somewhere along the line, something happened. He stopped making fun of himself and the competition, and started picking on innocent bystanders.

He launched a long attack on some maiden aunt, trying to find laughs in liver spots. He wrote a strange love poem to an equally strange female, and the humor there was supposed to come out of nasal drip, or some unpleasant deformity, or both, or something.

It didn’t. And along the way, I also began to lose track of what this all had to do with mobile phone calls.

So they got rid of him, I don’t know why, too expensive, or too Goodyeary, or something. And now the commercials have a new guy, and the same nasty tone, and are even less funny.

I don’t understand

Now I don’t even understand them, but by listening really close, I think I figured out in the last one that somebody was giving somebody the finger.

And this message is brought to you by Mother Bell.

You know what I think? I think the phone company, of all people (Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m saying this), should be politically correct.

After all, it performs a regulated public service, with just about everybody in Canada’s two biggest provinces as its customers, and it really ought to be nice when it talks about people at large.

If it can’t be nice, at least it should be funny. Right now, it’s batting oh-for-two.