Someone recently sent me an email of advertising scripts.
I get lots of emails like this.
People sending me their ideas and asking me to comment.
Let me give you the shortened version of this particular email.
There are 5 ideas for commercials.
The first two are for a sweet.
In the first commercial a picture is about to fall off the wall, and a sweet is about to fall off the table.
The man ignores the picture, grabs the sweet and pops it into his mouth.
The picture crashes to the floor.
He doesn’t care because he’s enjoying the delicious sweet.
In the second commercial a man is in a bicycle race.
A young spectator is about to pop a sweet into his mouth.
The man grabs it as he rides by, and eats it.
They boy’s family give chase.
The fear of being caught causes the man to win the race.
In each case the strapline is ‘The Bite Of Your Life’.
The next commercial is for a beer.
A man and a woman are walking along the beach, they see two beer bottles.
One bottle has a message in, the woman reads it and smiles.
The other bottle contains beer, the man drinks it and burps.
The woman frowns, the man smiles.
The strapline is ‘A Message of Pleasure”.
The next commercials are for a camera.
In the first, a woman gets dressed but forgets to put any knickers on.
As she is having her photograph taken she falls over.
The snap is taken as she is on her back, legs akimbo.
In the next commercial a man with a wig is sitting at a table nearby.
As the woman falls over she grabs the wig from his head and holds it between her legs.
At that instant the photo is taken.
In each case the strapline is “Catch Your Moment”.
Now that’s pretty much the level of ideas I get sent.
Pick any old product (sweet, beer, camera) and write a joke.
Then put some vaguely relevant pun on the end.
Job done, right?
But is it?
Is it really as simple as any old joke will sell any old product?
All I’m told in the first two ads is that it’s for a sweet.
I’m not even told the name.
Apparently it’s not important.
It could be for any sweet, so we don’t need to know anything about it.
Is it fruitier or creamier, crunchier or chewier, for kids or grownups?
Apparently we don’t need to know a single thing.
It’s a sweet, and all a sweet needs is a joke about people not being able to resist it, and a pun at the end, right?
On to the beer.
Again, it doesn’t even have a name, apparently it doesn’t matter.
We don’t even need to know what country the beer comes from: Mexico, USA, France, Japan, Brazil, Australia.
All beer is exactly the same as all other beer.
All we need is a joke about men preferring beer to anything, and a pun at the end, right?
Same with cameras.
We don’t need to know the name of the camera.
This is just an idea for selling cameras, see.
And all cameras are the same as all other cameras.
So who cares whether it’s a digital camera or not.
Whether it’s expensive or not.
What quality the pictures are.
What are the speeds, functions, availability, colours, whatever.
And who would buy it: men, women, children, professionals, grannies.
And what for: fun shots, holiday shots, work, dark-light, bright-light, action shots, portraits.
None of that matters.
All we need is a joke about cameras, and a pun on the end, right?
Because everything is exactly like everything else.
So that’s all advertising does.
Sell stuff that is exactly like all other stuff.
Don’t bother about what you’re selling.
Write a joke and put a pun at the end.
That’s all there is to advertising.
And that’s the sophisticated argument that lead to the belief that brand is all there ever is.
All products are identical to all other products.
The only possible difference is the brand.
So all we have to talk about is brand.
Since the product doesn’t matter we don’t have to say anything at all about it, ever.
But how does that work in the real world.
What sort of impact does that have on consumers?
Take a look at the scripts I get sent, by people trying to get into advertising, and you get a rough idea.