The turkeys are falling like bags of cement

Does Dominion's new spot with fish falling from the sky remind anyone of that (apparently not inimitable) scene from WKRP, where a promo goes horribly wrong? Turkeys tossed out of a helicopter plummet like stones into the waiting crowd below, prompting...

Does Dominion’s new spot with fish falling from the sky remind anyone of that (apparently not inimitable) scene from WKRP, where a promo goes horribly wrong? Turkeys tossed out of a helicopter plummet like stones into the waiting crowd below, prompting that memorable line, ‘As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.’

The fishcopter landing on the roof with a netful of today’s catch, and the surprised folk who have the spillage land in their respective soups, BBQs and cars, is hands-down the best entry of Dominion’s ‘Fresh Obsessed’ campaign, and any similarity to series alive or deceased is permissible because the premise fits so well in the grocer’s campaign.

It’s a campaign where a high concept approach to execution works, because it doesn’t get in the way of the central communication – the ‘Fresh’ sell – it simply aids memory by wrapping it up in funny fish bits.

There are many campaigns that go over the top with complex scenarios that, while wildly humorous, don’t lead back to a product sell. In the current adworld economy, they aren’t going to be as easily pushed through any more, as it generally costs more to execute a spot without an idea. In ‘Back to advertising Basics’ (page 4), our correspondent Patti Summerfield looks at where Canada stands in the ‘simpler is better’ trend.

Judging by the campaigns that won Bessies, well-executed simple concepts can not only break through the clutter, they can also win kudos from ad-type juries. A good example is the Ikea Germany spots – which show variations of the many possible uses imaginable for the furniture makers’ various products – that took a campaign gold. The ‘Swedish Solutions’ pool features short scenarios such as using a flower vase as a fire extinguisher when your husband suddenly combusts while reading the paper. The campaign also includes the really unforgettable – believe me, I’m trying, but so far I’m stuck on a gravy drawer – ‘MISA Mustard Drawer’ (shown on page 1), which was a Bessies finalist. The campaign won awards on the international scene because they’re dead funny, and they’re winning their agency, Roche Macaulay & Partners Advertising, a reputation in global marketing circles (see ‘Getting more work beyond our borders,’ page 1). Based on the ‘imagine the possibilities’ theme, which is what you do when you go to IKEA (admit it, you’ve never left there without a bag or two of things that were NOT on the shopping list), the spots simply and clearly show product and reinforce that emotional ‘discovery’ connection people have with the brand.

Some new work out of PJ DDB Toronto for Panasonic’s Shockwave, a portable CD player, also communicates simply and effectively – and therefore memorably. In it, a young girl is playing piano at a recital as parents and teacher (anxiously) look on. There are curious glitches in her performance, where she hits the same note far too many times. This is explained in the next scene, where we see her on a bumpy school bus ride, listening to a portable CD player that skips in a similar fashion. Okay, we get it: buy the Panasonic No Skip Portable CD player. The spot is not music-driven in the usual mindless pounding sense of the term, which might be expected in this category, and more effective as a result. Part of the strategy was to appeal to an older-skewing demo than typically associated with this category, and this had something to do with the thankfully non-frenetic approach usually applied with a thick brush to teen products.

Another execution that takes product attributes and riffs on it in a simple yet effective way is the first TV campaign for LifeScan, a U.S. maker of blood glucose monitoring products, and it’s another example of Canadians winning foreign work. What makes the pool by Anderson work is that it stays away from a lot of medical tech stuff and tells about its new diabetes monitoring device (which is less painful and doesn’t entail pricking your fingers) from the patient’s P.O.V. That the user is the king of cool, B.B. King, who talks about the product while strumming Lucille, ratchets them up a whole lot of levels in terms of break-through power, but it is also the personal approach, discussing the attributes of the new One Touch Ultra device in laymen’s terms, ‘I don’t like to hurt B.B.,’ and a cinema verite style. B.B. is actually doing a One Touch song, which is fortunately subtle.

The campaign’s five spots, produced out of Toronto, its mag ads, brochures and direct components all feature the blues legend; the campaign was a joint creative effort from CDs out of Anderson’s new San Fran office and T.O.

What these spots all have in common is they ‘Get to the Point.’ Which is, in a headline in Grey View more than 20 years ago, how Grey Advertising’s Nancy Sutton summed up the job of the adfolk. The piece, which is reprinted in the foreword of Don Schultz’s Essentials of Advertising Strategy, remains as sound today as it was when the veteran VP/ group CD first put it out there, and the sentiments voiced by the author of the ‘It’s raisins that make Post Raisin Bran so wonderful’ spot, were echoed by today’s CDs in this issue’s ‘Back to advertising basics’ story.

The point of her article? Sutton says it best with this line: ‘Safer. Cleaner. Brighter. Whiter. Easier. Juicier. Faster. New. New. New. All those weary words in all those strategy statements.

Don’t rise above them. Get inside them. And make them sing.’

cheers, mm