Why disruptive animal adverts don’t work for me

copywriting clichesWe live in a world where advertisers are being encouraged to come up with original branding at all costs. Even if it has nothing to do with the product. FirstDirect are trying to convince us they’re worth using because they’re unexpected (which is exactly what I don’t want from a bank), while O2 are trying to convince us they’re worth joining because of a cat behaving like a dog (which I find rather baffling, as they’re actively eschewing the quiet dignity of cats). Avoiding clichés is an admirable thing, as anyone can tell you, but sometimes I’d rather people erred more on the side of the unoriginal to give a convincing message. As I hope my latest real-world copywriting example will demonstrate.

This latest copywriting example caught my eye because it was exactly the opposite of those bizarre attempts to be different. Granted it’s a food product, not a service example, so the audience is slightly different, but it’s no nonsense copy that does the job. And frankly, it’s a strange world where a chocolate company promoting decadent luxury provides a more reliable message than a bank.

copywriting example luxury chocolate

Click the image to see full size.

Observe Lindt’s two-page spread from a newspaper supplement. First thoughts on the headline: “Experience the unexpected…”, that’s about as original as expecting the unexpected. But you know what? I’ve tried that chocolate before, and the salt in it was quite unexpected. So fair play to them.

Onto the body copy, so richly populated by superlative describing words. Exceptional, devotion, luxurious, sheer quality – and of course the ultimate pleasure; everything you’d want from an exclusive product is thrown in there. With a few titbits about the company history and cocoa. There’s nothing exceptional about this copy. Nothing entirely original about it. But it builds a picture of a tasty chocolate bar. Even if it’s been done a thousand times before, it shows that Lindt care that this is what the consumer wants. When you read about luxury chocolate, you want to be told about its luxury.

The important thing is that the clichéd style is done well: it ticks the boxes, and gives a positively good message. It’s personalised, it’s professional, and it’s not trying to be different by suggesting the chocolate is, I don’t know, made by platypuses. It’s different because it has different ingredients, but the service is what you’d expect.

Picture this now, if you will. Let’s replace the picture of chocolate with an amusing animal, and replace the copy with something that shows us how fun the company are.

funny copywriting

Click to enlarge.

Unfortunately, inspiringly different as it is, the camel somewhat detracts from the luxury aspect of the chocolate. Which I hope is quite an effective illustration of exactly how I see these other supposedly disruptive adverts.

The Lindt advert  is a good example of advertising that does what it takes to get noticed in a positive way – it makes little effort to avoid the clichés, because the primary focus is to give people what they want. I wouldn’t want to buy luxury chocolate that was advertised by amusing animals, because that makes a joke of a serious issue. And let’s be fair, banking, and having a reliable phone network, are quite serious too.

I can’t speak for the success of these adverts generally, maybe these animal campaigns have brought in more custom for the companies than, I don’t know, demonstrating that you have a product worth buying would have. But they certainly haven’t endeared me. Half the time I’m not even sure what they’re selling.

7 responses to “Why disruptive animal adverts don’t work for me

  1. I think O2 are really clutching at straws with this one. The ‘be more dog’ campaign could work, perhaps for a company promoting the great outdoors. However, I have seen the ad several times and still don’t really know why O2 are telling me to act like a dog.

  2. My sentiments exactly. And personally I’d rather be more like a cat, taking things easy and addressing problems with a quiet sense of dignity. Besides which, dogs need constant attention and are born followers, which aren’t qualities I’m after in a mobile network.

  3. Pingback: Why content often has nothing to do with copywriting

  4. And don’t even get me started on Gary’s cat (Peugeot?). The finest non-sequitur in the history of advertising.

  5. Oh yes. I wonder if they had a meeting where some wily adman convinced the group that non-sequitur sells.

  6. I figured that the O2 campaign asking you to be more dog is meant to associate a sense of careless freedom with having a phone contract, which is generally restrictive and concerning.

    I just happened to have a live rabbit and a bunny costume one day at work around when this campaign launched so… pic.twitter.com/jZG09Szuvs

    • That is a fantastic picture. It tells an impossible story.

      You’re right though, there is a more of a design behind the dog idea than my camel ad. It just doesn’t really relate to the product (much as they’d like people to make that jump to thinking paying phone bills can be fun).

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