Asda: Sexist or PC gone mad?

I read the article in the observer yesterday citing the 160 + complaints that the Asda ad had generated from the public so far.

Really? Is this because people are genuinely distressed by the ad that is portraying such a horrific picture of Mum and Dad in their traditional roles in the lead up to Xmas? Or is this because media is attracting attention to it and people are jumping on another bandwagon.

The ASA are certainly taking it seriously – positioning a direct reference to it on their homepage.

Making a complaint about Asda?
The ASA has received a significant number of complaints about a TV ad for Asda. The ad features a busy mum doing lots of tasks in preparation for Christmas and on Christmas day and ends with a voiceover that states “Behind every great Christmas there’s mum and behind mum there’s Asda”. Members of the public have objected that the ad is offensive because they believe it reinforces outdated stereotypes of men and women in the home.

But really. Seriously? I didn’t watch it outraged. I watched it thinking “looks about right” based on xmas growing up, and xmas in my household now. Yes – Dad does more but Dad is actually in 2 scenes. It’s not like he’s slobbed out on the sofa the whole time watching TV and waving at Mum, he’s simply not the star of the ad. It’s simply paying homage to the fact that Mum, in the majority of households as far as Asda’s target market is concerned (as, let’s all remember they are trying to sell something to us not just entertain us for 45 seconds), plays a big part in the big day. Yes it’s not saying thanks to Dad in this one but, with 80% of Asda’s customers being Mums doing the household shop the job of the agency is to surely appeal to the majority and, I’m sure it’s hard to argue with an insight that was likely to be “Mum’s are a vital part of the lead up to xmas”.

As with anything, I’m sure there could be a cleverer way of doing it (cue John Lewis) but from the pocket slapping retailer is it really that bad?

Mums Net and Fathers4Justice obviously agree (they’ve held their grudge since Asda’s Mumdex) but, for everyone else, can’t we just accept an ad for what it is without turning it into a moral crusade. We know there are households without Mum’s, we know there are households that dont celebrate xmas, we know there are households where Mum is a lazy f*** and Dad does all the work. Actually perhaps the solution is to edit the ad with that as an end frame – just in case the public don’t “get” that it was simply advertising.

Britain’s Greatness

I was en route home from another meeting heavy day in London and reading The Times this evening when I stumbled across an article on a new campaign by Mother, promoting Great Britain. (Note I’d link you to the article but I dont pay The Times subscription fee – a similar article can however be found on the Metro.

In both articles they report a negative reaction to the new campaign, designed at getting overseas visitors onto our shores, pulling apart the campaigns portrayal of GB citing the big complaint at intending to get

“people to think, British people are the most talented in the world. That’s wonderful, I’ll come’ The alternative is that they will think: ‘Says who? I’m from the United States and I think we’re better”. – The Times.

Mother's latest ad campaign

This is a valid point. Yes, the advertising undoubtedly reeks of us Brits going out there and boldly claiming that Creativity, knowledge, heritage, music, sport, entrepreneurs, innovation, shopping, green and countryside is Great (Britain) . And yes, by claiming they’re great appears to claim by default that we’re superior but, let’s be honest, all advertising is self-obsessed “look how great our product is” in one way or another, more so when it comes to travel. Let’s take a reality check perhaps you just wouldn’t meet many Americans anywaywho dont believe we are a nation of pompous old fools who believe in an empire, wear tweed and definately think we have the upper hand.

David cameron on the other hand, defends the two-thirds publically funded campaign

In 2012 there will be only one place to be. There are so many great things about  Britain and we want to send out the message loud and proud that this is a great  place to do business, to invest, to study and to visit – David Cameron IN Metro

Yes David, I agree with all of the above but to then state that its a great way to counteract the rioting picture,  showcase modern Britain and celebrate Olympic excitement  (which is increasingly creeping up on us like a corporate wicked witch) is definately not the case.

No it doesn’t address Britain as a multi-cultural destination, it doesn’t challenge perceptions or showcase the reasons why Britain should be a must-visit destination in recession hit times. It simply reads as a conceited CV of someone you wouldn’t employ. A list of all of our Greats and no acknowledgement of the human qualities that actually make Britain great and totally unique. The family-owned bakery, the old man’s pub (if you can find one), the iconic curry house, the crazy man on the corner and the fish and chips on the pier. In keeping it Grand  we’ve lost the reality and charm that people do fall in love with.

Maybe the line should have been “Holidaying is Great <Britain>” – cue picture of suitable old guy propping up the bar with fag in hand and guiness in the other. Actually scrap that. There is no bar, there is a smoking ban and, god forbid, we even start to suggest binge drinking…..!

Another terrible campaign… this time its No7

So after I declared my hatred of the irritating pantene/cat deeley/swissh campaign I was upset this morning to see another ad that appears to be a direct copy.

Dont upload a swish, upload a wink….. *yawn*

– these ads are so similar I’m sure the same concept boards could have almost been used.

That said Boots have at least made some positive changes within their exquisite curl campaign…

  • The campaign URL is more memorable
  • They allow video and photo uploads
  • The campaign sits within Facebook allowing user interaction with the brand, and the brand is responding quickly
  • The prizes, although low value, are encouraging trial by proving lots of product winners

And No7, despite your terrible advertising, I’ll still buy your mascara – because it’s good, not because of a wink, and an exquisite curl sample would be lovely 😉

Pantene Swissh – The most annoying ad on TV?

It’s probably either testament to me being a core target for Pantene or evidence of how much crap TV I watch that the Pantene (and Cat deeley) Swissh ad seems to be hitting me everytime I hit the remote control. As I sat this morning watching New America’s Next Top Model it hit me yet again and, rather than cringe at Cat Deeley’s terrible “Swwwwissssh” voice over, with laptop poised and ready,  I thought I’d check out the website that Cat keeps telling me to look at – more out of marketing curiosity as opposed to learning how to swish my locks.

The first stumbling block, and marketing error – make the URL easy for the consumer to remember (and type)… I went online and typed in the URL as I heard from Cat “Visit make a swish dot com”

Nothing there…

Error 2 – make sure you make it easy for users to find the ad if they dont remember the URL. Surely if you’re spending a huge chunk of TV budget you can afford some PPC advertising around some of the key terms swish, Pantene, Cat Deeley….. I googled Pantene Swish, thinking this was the obvious, and went to the brand site (top result) – I reached a static page about swishing and was shocked that a TV ad was backed up by 3 steps on how to swish – surely there had to be more?! Error 3 – There was more content (see later), just not linked from that site!

Determined I rewound on the SKY PLUS to double check the URL on screen (Error 4 – how many consumers would really do that!)  and realised that the voiceover of “visit make a swish” was slightly misleading… It should have been

  Make, hyphen, a, hypen, swissh with two s dot com.

Not quite as catchy…

Once there the campaign site has a lot more content from both the brand, and consumers. I wont review it’s challenging usability, nor the relevancy of the content back to the brand but it appears to have some impact with 995 swisshes uploaded and 17k views (Visited Oct 2010). In terms of KPIs I dont know what they would have intended but, considering the media backup that this campaign is getting, and based on the sort of KPIs I know I would set for this type of campaign media spend,  this seems to be at face value a disappointing level of interactions – although without seeing the figures or final ROI I can’t really comment!

I think the key challenge with this campaign is what makes the content interesting – whilst uploading a swissh to enter a competition is an incentive to participate, there isn’t really a massive incentive to explore the content or engage further. There is only so much interest, and so much viewing of “swisshes” you can do! With such a minority of individuals within the population actively uploading content, and the majority of consumers only prepared to share, comment, or passively view brands,  ensuring that there is interesting content for the majority is almost more important for these mainstream brands.

That said there is a good attempt at through the line integration with this campaign. The TV advertising tying into the digital work, partnership deal online/offline with Cosmopolitan including an investment in a 3D cover to grab impact, a blogger outreach program and ending with an experiential stunt in December with the worlds biggest Swissh at the clothes show live.

I can’t help but think this campaign will do well on the impacts and see an immediate uplift in sales / trial purely due to its consistency in it’s approach and frequency of impacts that it must be achieving. Despite this, for long term brand impact, and for it’s creativity in the digital space this FMCG brand, as with many others, still have a lot to learn to digitally engage audiences fully and truly involve or immerse them in the brand, although perhaps this was never an objective in the first place…

Compare the meerkat: Part 2

I’ve been surprised by how many people are still viewing my thoughts on the Compare The Meerkat campaign by compare the

Launched just after Christmas the brave brand marketeers went for memorability using a fluffy persona (cadbury’s gorilla anyone?!) and went on to take the campaign through every medium possible. This is the part that interested me. Working for a full service digital agency I know how difficult it is to get absolute integration. Having multiple agencies and stakeholders all buying into one idea and being able to execute cross channel is a challenge for the marketing manager and ensuring all are on board but its something that VCCP managed to spearhead and achieve.

So its full offerings:

Spoof website

TV ads

PPC search





Had to just update this to include the bloopers!