No one can ever criticize automobile brands for not spending enough money on advertising. For any media buyer, an automotive manufacturer is a plumb. But that has never stopped these companies from confusing activity with accomplishment. (We have been critical of the auto industry before. Read more here.)
In advertising execution, the enemy of great advertising is not bad advertising. The enemy of great advertising is good advertising. Anyone can spot a bad commercial but, all too often, brands get lured in to a creative (according the agency) commercial that sacrifices all of its equity in a desire to entertain or just be different.
Here is a case in point. If you are like me you have seen a recent commercial where a young couple find a lost finch— his flock, according to the screenplay (and it is a screenplay not a commercial script). And the young couple takes off with the exhausted bird in a cross-country trek to find the flock.
This commercial is filled with pseudo-emotional shots where the couple and the little bird in a shoebox cross stateliness looking for the flock and asking everyone they pass if they have seen the migrating flock.
At the end of the commercial, the exhausted couple sees a singular finch on a fence and they release their chauffeured bird into the wild. In what passes for the emotional crescendo, the entire flock rises and swirls around our hero couple and takes flight.
I’m sure you’ve seen this piece of art. Here is the commercial for those of you that missed it.
By the way, I had to Google the commercial to remember what brand was being advertised. It turns out to be the Nissan Altima. That is the problem of course. The brand message is quite secondary to the story being told. And the story tries to pull at our emotions and pretends to be sensitive and inspiring through a story line that is so absurd that we feel abused to have bothered to watch it.
The brand suffers here because none of it is believable, which by the way, is not a co-requisite in great advertising. Take the Coke- Mean Joe Green Commercial from years ago. It wasn’t just manipulative. This commercial is. Now, after a few viewings, I literally groan when it pops up on the air. Nissan is lucky that the brand is not deeply associated or remembered in this spot. If it were, it would not only be a waste of money but destructive too.
Compare this with the emotional and yet compelling campaign by Dodge. This commercial is running with a few variations on a theme. All are emotional, aspirational and build REAL brand value. It is believable, important and memorable. So is the brand that sponsors it.