A missed opportunity. Or two.

November 3, 2008

The new Energy Efficient Lightbulbs ad for the Scottish Executive is another ad that makes me think “Does anyone actually care any more?” The ad shows an image of the world (complete with smiley face) holding an energy efficient lightbulb. And dispensing advice.

Energy Efficiency?

Energy Efficiency?

I’m sorry if it seems like I’m giving the ad a kicking, but I’m so disappointed in the missed opportunity that I have to say something. I’m long enough in the tooth to know that the ad smacks of many hands interfering with the final ad. But it’s so predictable. There’s no warmth, no wry smile.

And at the risk of sounding cavalier, what difference will saving £60 from changing your bulbs over to energy efficient ones really make to peoples’ lives? Is it a strong enough motivator to change an ingrained habit? I doubt it. Why not go to town? What not have Princes Street under water? Or the earth burnt to a frazzle? Or someone with the sun shining out of their behinds? I don’t know. Anything that is slightly engaging.

I’m afraid I reckon that people will just ignore the poster. And more money will have been spent managing to achieve nothing, because somewhere someone’s more intersted in covering their arse than doing advertising that really makes a difference.

And that’s a sad fact of the market we now operate in. Where are the risk takers? Where are the brave leaps that lead us to new and exciting territory? They’re way over on the horizon, and they’re disappearing fast. It’s not too late, but we do need to give the industry a kick in the pants and try to make it relevant again.

In the defence of the campaign, I’ve been told that the TV work is good, but I’ve not managed to see it yet. But I’ll update this once I’ve seen it. Or, if you’ve seen it already, let me know what you think.
And that moves me on to the Scottish Executive’s Drink Awareness week ads. Again, I’m not meaning to have a go at the creatives who worked on this project. But what a disappointing result. The ads, which were heavy weight and seen many, many times, were little more than the brief written large on the page. There was no engagament. No intrigue. Nothing to make me care.

Here are three of the ads. See what you think of them.

Alcohol Awareness Diary

Alcohol Awareness Diary

Alcohol Free Days

Alcohol Free Days

Lower Alcohol Beer

Lower Alcohol Beer

And the idea of a drinks diary? The very people that need this message to resonate with them are not the sort of people who I imagine will be too happy about writing down their alcohol intake in a diary. And there’s evidence from doctors that people always lie about their alcohol intake when asked, anyway. The doctors rule, apparently, is that they double what you tell them you drink. triple what you tell them you smoke and divide the number of times you tell them you have sex by four. So if they realise that their patients are lying, what hope do we have when we’re trying to self-police.

Again, I’ve not seen the brief, and maybe the brief is to talk to middle-class people and discourage them from drinking. But if this is the target market, I’d ask why? There are many, many other sections of society that could benefit from drinking less. So why waste money and effort on something that is doomed to failure. Sure the messages are very clear on the posters. But I wonder if people will really read them and engage with them and change a hugely ingrained habit?

If this campaign wins an IPA award for effectiveness next year, I’ll be clamouring for a steward’s enquiry (as I make my way through a bottle of Scotch).

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