A host of celebrities jumping up and down make for entertaining viewing. What if it were set to a soothing, classic soundtrack, featured celebs who look like they‘re really into it, and the jumping was brilliantly shot? It can be engaging even if you recognise only two of the many stars featured. And it can be engaging even if you didn’t know that it was a tribute to a yesteryear movie you had never heard of, one called Billy Elliot. The UK Burberry spot launched for Christmas recreates a scene from the 15-year-old movie, with celebrities including Elton John and Naomi Campell in Burberry clothes. But even if you didn’t know all that, you’d still watch it, say some. Would you?
According to Neuro-Insight chief executive Heather Andrew, the Burberry ad also scores when it comes to Christmas campaigns’ impact on the consumer brain. She analysed the popular John Lewis ‘Man on the moon’ film, Sainsbury’s ‘Mog the Cat’, and Harvey Nichols’ ‘Avoid #GiftFace.
Writing for Campaign’s sister title Marketing Magazine (UK), Andrew notes that all four follow the longer format allowing narratives to develop. This, she says, is good for the brain.
Andrew also makes the point that in the case of the Sainsbury’s spot, there is the risk of ‘conceptual closure’, as the message that ‘Christmas is for sharing’ appears before the brand. Until that point, the ad is for ‘Mog the cat’, not Sainsbury’s. The John Lewis spot, while having the same problem, is saved by ‘brand fame’ thanks to the reputation of its Christmas commercials over the years.
Though rooted in a strong insight that people hate receiving ‘bad’ gifts, the Harvey Nichols work uses multiple vignettes of the same story, making it predictable, according to Andrew. The only ad rooted in a fresh insight thus doesn’t elicit the kind of response one desires from the brain.
Somewhere, while all the analyses make imminent sense, the logic route to creating commercials falls short on several fronts, one fears. The brain may react best to Burberry, which is putting its brand upfront. With due credit to it, I will still hazard the guess that it will not last as long in public conscious as Sainsbury’s message. It wasn’t really Sainsbury’s message – it was a universal message rooted in the spirit of Christmas and ‘sharing’ that Sainsbury’s managed to own with Mog, the cat.
Harvey Nichols’ spot makes you want to ensure that you choose the right gift for a loved one – isn’t choosing gifts during the festivities a top of mind affair?
And the man on the moon and the child reaching out to him, make you want to see them again and again, because your heart craves to reach out to them. Could we say the same for the jumping celebrities in Burberry?
Of what use is eliciting a reaction from the brain, if the brand cannot make a lasting impression and elicit action? I’d argue that brands that strike a chord with the heart compellingly will remain top of mind.
Writing for Campaign’s UK edition this April, the inimitable Dave Trott had this to say: “Advertising isn’t marketing. Advertising is the voice of marketing. But most advertising people don’t know that. Consequently a lot of advertising looks like a marketing mood film with a two second logo on the end. It keeps everyone in the client’s marketing department happy. It ticks all the boxes. And it’s bland and invisible to the consumer.”
If you have to go after the brain instead of the heart, you’re after the low-hanging fruit. Any scientist can do that – you don’t need advertising genius.
(Gokul Krishnamoorthy is managing editor, Campaign India. This article first appeared in the 11 December issue of Campaign India.)