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You are here: Blog Brand Aid Blog with Richard Taylor of Royston Simp


Richard Taylor of Simpsons Creative offers the inside track on the importance of brand and hot topics in marketing.

The brand that dare not speak its name

Whisper it softly but there’s a massive sporting event of international importance about to take place and points are already being scored before a ball is kicked in anger!

The 2014 World Cup is such hot property, publicity wise, that everyone wants a part of it. But the exclusivity deals tied up by the official sponsors are so tåight that I’m taking my professional life in my hands by merely mentioning the words ‘World’ and ‘Cup’ in the same sentence.

At up to £400,000 for a thirty second slot, wannabes have as much chance as getting a piece of the action as a poor kid has of cutting in on a rich guy’s date. Although having said that, charm can sometimes triumph over the chequebook, as the current crop of World Cup ads shows.

First up there’s the novelty ads. The Sun has come up with a kind of football chorus line: a chain of players heading a ball one to another to the tune of the Seekers’ ‘There will never be another you’. The lyric is emblazoned word-by-word on the backs of their shirts, so as the ball bounces from head to head they become a human karaoke machine. Fun, but forgettable, other than by other advertising creative who are desperate to spot the editing. 

McDonalds, although an official sponsor, plays it cool and light hearted with a medley of trick shots to the backing of an upbeat soundtrack. Fast-paced and funny, especially when a wheelchair bound oldie bounces out of it and brings off a bit of fancy footwork and young Ciaran Duffy the 'Irish Messi' shows his skills!

Then come the big hitters, Pepsi and Coca Cola, who can – and do – buy celebrity endorsement by the iced bucketful. Add a bit of local colour: Pepsi has a self-consciously cool young dude ambling through the back streets of Brazil improvising their ‘We can be heroes’ anthem. Purely by chance he bumps into Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, David Luiz et al at cafés and street corners.  In reality he’d probably be tearing the shirts from their backs as souvenirs, but hey, everyone’s a hero in a Pepsi ad.

By contrast, Coca Cola’s offering is solemn and self-righteous. They’ve moved on from buying the world a Coke: they now want to give away World Cup tickets to the disadvantaged villagers in the Third World. Well, one or two of them anyway, while the cameras are rolling. It rather backfires on them though, because the villagers’ honesty and simplicity is in pointed contrast to Coca Cola’s self-serving philanthropy. But who knows, perhaps it’ll inspire a cargo cult following in the slums of Rio.

Of course, the advertising equivalent of the World Cup final is the play off between Adidas and Nike. Both have come up with ‘big ideas’ that elevate what is essentially a selection of footballing clips into dramatic stories.

Adidas, the official sponsor, have done rather better this year than last, when they were soundly trounced by Nike’s ‘Write the Future’ commercial. This time they’ve build their ad around Lionel Messi’s dream, or should that be troubled sleep.  We see him tossing and turning on his bed whilst flashing through his mind (in a series of cross-cuts) are anxious moments on the field as his rivals – another gallery of all stars – threaten to out manoeuvre him.  At the climax, however, he sweeps to victory and glory in his Adidas kit.

However, Nike, for my money, has kicked Adidas into touch once again. In their ad a bunch of kids meet for a friendly kick about, each living out, as kids do, the fantasy of being their heroes. And, what do you know; as they play they magically turn into their heroes, with more footballing clips to illustrate their imaginings. It’s nicely seasoned with humour, too.

Cut to the cup final, where Messi is about to take a decisive penalty. There’s hush and then bewilderment as a young unknown steps up to take the penalty in his place. He shoots, he scores, and Joe Average becomes the World Cup’s most lauded champion!

And if that doesn’t get them more exposure than the opposition, then the release this week of a five-minute animation featuring cartoons of some of the biggest names in football as part of its 'Risk Everything' campaign, should ensure it.

Hang on a moment though. Did I just say World Cup?  What I really meant of course was ‘A Massive Sporting Event of International Importance’.

The D&AD Awards: Making the Turner Prize look tame

Around this time of year the ad industry convenes for the Design & Art Direction Awards (D&AD), the profession’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Can you sell the unsellable – and should you try?

Could you sell a theme park to the over 60s or put a positive spin on an oil spill in one tweet?

Those are amongst the challenges put to job candidates applying for work with creative consultancy Tayburn.

A tall order perhaps, but a telling one: in a commercial context creativity is ultimately about your powers of persuasion, not your ability to produce pretty words and pictures.

Brand leaders: Apple leaves Ferrari on the starting grid

“What is a man, what has he got?/If not himself, then he has naught” – the closing stanza of Frank Sinatra’s signature tune and part of his ‘brand property’, expresses a sentiment appropriate to branding at its best: namely integrity.

The ‘bear’ truth about Christmas commercials

Forget the Oscars. The new crowd-pulling blockbuster, the latest box office sensation, is the Christmas commercial from Britain’s big retailers, led this year by ‘The Bear and the Hare’ from John Lewis (5 million plus viewings on YouTube); ‘Magic & Sparkle’ from M&S (over half a million viewings); and ‘Unwrap Joy’ from Cadburys (over 85,000 viewings) as of last week.

Dad may not love this Ad but Ma might

My relationship with Marmite is a pretty ambivalent one. I don’t love it, neither do I loathe it.

All aboard the Royal baby brand wagon!

In my Top Ten Tips for Copywriting (No.6 – Be Involving) I encourage advertisers to link their names – where appropriate – with the topics that form the staple fare of the tabloids and social media sites: namely children, animals, football, celebrities and, ahem, sex.

Digital revolution rams home timeless truths

To say that the internet has brought about a social revolution is to state the obvious.

Close to 80 per cent of the population is now online and whether they spend their time shopping, gaming, social networking or simply surfing, it has become a social and business phenomenon – some might say obsession. According to a recent survey, 1 in 4 people spend more time online than they do sleeping.

Fast forward to the future of TV advertising

In the ad world we work on the rule of thumb that you have three seconds to arrest attention with a print advertisement.

From mad men to best buddies: Brands that want to be your friend

Brands and branding have been with us for a long time (ever since the first rancher burned his initials in the hide of a steer) and you’d have thought we’d have understood them thoroughly by now.

Sex still sells - even though it's not allowed!

It’s been a good few decades since you could get away with gratuitous sex or sexism in advertising. Remember the glory days when Fiat could run an ad headlined “If this car were a lady it would get its bottom pinched”? Famously, it attracted feminist graffiti that read “If this lady was a car, she’d run you down!”

Don’t try to gatecrash the party – throw your own!

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde -preserved shark is its title: ‘The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living’.

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