Spotlight on…Television Creative

Glenn Dawes is a writer with Calgary-based AdFarm. For this latest instalment of Strategy's 'Spotlight on...' feature, we asked him to spend some quality time in front of the tube, and offer comments on some of the TV spots that caught...

Glenn Dawes is a writer with Calgary-based AdFarm. For this latest instalment of Strategy’s ‘Spotlight on…’ feature, we asked him to spend some quality time in front of the tube, and offer comments on some of the TV spots that caught his attention.

As an Olympian couch potato, I didn’t find it much of a stretch to watch four hours of TV for this review.

Mostly, what I recall from that evening of flipping is a lot of great shows. Plus a lot of advertisers working REAL HARD to get my attention.

Now, I’ll admit that getting my attention is easy. But holding it? That’s another story.

Of all the ads that held my remote in check, surprisingly few were of the I-dare-you-to-run-this variety. I chuckled at these ‘edgy’ commercials (and there were dozens of them) the same way I chuckled at that kid who farted on the bus the other day. It was funny, and I noticed him – but I wouldn’t sit beside him ever again. Flip!

Here are four TV ads that did manage to stand out. They made an impression on me – not by indulging in adolescent humour or breaking taboos, but by being simple, tough, human and relevant. All in 30 seconds.

1. KLEENEX

‘In families, everyone shares everything.’ What a great premise for a Kleenex commercial. At the supreme risk of grossing me out, the advertiser took me through a wonderfully gooey series of family snapshots – replete with all the usual licking, touching, dripping, splashing and germ-spreading. And it’s a credit to the advertiser’s maturity that what holds the spot together isn’t the shrewdness of the insight (it could’ve been really icky), but rather the love that the parents clearly share with their children. I didn’t know that Kleenex had three layers of tissue to help catch cold germs. Or that the ecstasy of living in a family could be so lovingly expressed in 30 seconds.

2. CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY

Ah, the snap of a prophylactic glove! Prostate awareness is a difficult topic, all right – but this ad succeeds by playing on the innate fear of being, um, anally probed to humorous effect. ‘Hey, man,’ it supers, shamelessly. ‘If you’re over 50 and haven’t had your prostate checked for possible cancer…’ In fact, it’s the shamelessness that makes this ad stand out, although the ‘gloving’ does go on a little long. When the glove finally snaps, we get the tagline ‘Put the fear behind you,’ and those two dreaded fingers form a peace sign. Or is it a V for victory? I still wince at the pun, but the image is pretty memorable.

3. JEEP

Remember that cool Rolling Stones video in which giant rock stars roamed amid skyscrapers, bridges and trees? The effect was so awesome that advertisers jumped on it instantly. Today, it’s everywhere – and most of the spots that use the technique are pretty thin on ideas. ‘Wow,’ they say, ‘look how big I am! Everything is soooo tiny!’ And then this Jeep ad comes along: the giant hand of God, releasing animals into existence, musing about life and pondering what to create next. It ends with the Almighty placing a Jeep – huge hand, tiny Jeep – at the top of a rocky peak. Jeeps, sheep, mountains and God. And not a human being in sight. Is such exalted Jeep worship meant to boost the brand image? Or it is a witty commentary on our culture’s materialistic values? Do I care? Can I see it again?

4. MICHELINA’s

At first, I wanted to condemn this spot on principle. A Michelina’s frozen dinner being served by a butler? It’s not just any butler, though – it’s a snobby, cynical butler who’s having a little fun with a cheesy parody of that even cheesier ‘Macarena’ song. That the fun is at the expense of his baby-boomer master is what won me over. When the butler retorts, ‘Quite’ at the end, he might as well have added, ‘…idiot.’ And I come away remembering how easy the product is to cook, and how much you save. Overall, the tension between the frozen dinner, the mansion, the regular guy and his butler is executed very skillfully, making this the kind of commercial that could run for years with very little wear. Plus, I like saying, ‘Dona mucha costa soya gonna lotta sava.’ Whatever.

Creative Agencies:

1. J. Walter Thompson (New York)

2. Young & Rubicam (Calgary)

3. BBDO (New York)

4. The Ongoing Partnership (Toronto)

Also in this report:

- It’s a harsh realm: In today’s network television environment, the chances of a show’s success are slimmer than ever p.TV2

- Consolidation of specialties a mixed blessing: Upward pressure on price is offset by plethora of choice p.TV16

- Specialties take branding to the Web: Treat online presence as destination in and of itself p.TV21

- Drop the Beat busts an interactive move: Alliance Atlantis hip-hop drama invites viewers to participate via Web site and interactive TV p.TV23

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.
Google

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.