This week, I've chosen a throwback to one of my favourite ads which scores 11/10 for originality. The brief for this campaign was to relaunch the First Direct brand to a new, younger audience of 25-34 year olds.
First Direct could be described as a trend setter; in their own words they are 'the pioneers of easy banking'. Launching their phone banking in 1989, they were over 20 years ahead of emerging banking brands like Monzo, formed of similar principles and practises. Being the original non high street bank, it's not surprising First Direct wanted a slice of this rapidly expanding market with a new ad targeting a younger audience.
I think the ad works well because after a couple of watches it appears to be jam packed with subtle metaphors, all designed to gently coax the target audience into seriously considering what this brand has to offer. Barry the Platypus himself is a great mascot in conveying the brand's message. Without shouting about how good First Direct is for him, his slightly unusual but still recognisable appearance, his familiar voice and easy going manner work really well in representing what the brand stands for.* Similarly, the bird that's been morphed into professional beat boxer adds a great deal to the brand's subliminal messaging. Although the idea of a small, feathery beat boxer is quite novel, it doesn't feel gimmicky to watch but rather natural and authentic perhaps conveying First Direct's concept as something that's a credible option in the long term despite the nature of the bank not being typically conventional.
However, although this ad does have many respectable attributes, the one thing I initially questioned was the evident lack of colour. I don't believe the use of black and white detracts from the ad itself but the opportunity for use of colour with the vinyl shop and the graffitied canal walls featuring could have created a new dimension to the narrative. Perhaps the decision was made for the monochromatic palette as a way of alluding to the straight forward nature of the brand. Or perhaps in an age of photo filters and colour enhancing, the tone was called upon to get away from what might usually be expected of an ad being shown through todays channels. Either way, it's clear a lot of creative thought went into this ad and the result is a rejuvenated brand image which no doubt attracted a broader range of customers to bank with it.
*Talking of Platypi, did I mention I manage the social media activities of the only platypus known to be living in the UK. Check out Patti's account and give her a follow:
Released 6 months ago, this Toyota Corolla ad has recently caught my attention and not for a good reason. I can't really fault the storyline here, it's practically a John Lewis Christmas ad compared to a lot of other automotive commercials. What I can't help feel really lets this ad down is the accompanying soundtrack. The voiceover at the end of the ad asks "As the world moves forward what will your choice be?', and whilst I can't hear Toyota shouting 'stay in the past', their choice of the 1930s Jazz track 'Sing Sing Sing' answers their own question for them and not in a good way. Does familiarity sell? Maybe. But the reality is this song has been done to death with previous ads for brands including Knorr, Guiness and Virgin all opting to play it safe with a well known classic.
I should say, I have nothing against this track; Benny Goodman is a Jazz legend and the song itself is packed with energy. Which is why brands should give it the respect it deserves. Instead of plonking it behind a moving picture, craft it to create something which actually complements the content it's accompanying. By all means, Toyota could have started with the 1930s instrumentation but then morphed the track from classical to synthetic creating a modernised electronic revamp of the classic. A style which I think would marry perfectly with the promotion of an electric vehicle and make an initially unoriginal choice into something really authentic.