Execution vs Campaign

Have advertising standards fallen over recent years? Obviously, by which I mean it’s clear that Bronzes of the past are now Silvers and even Golds. So far, so blah, but I feel I need to poop the current party just a little further.

There’s been a spate of highly-awarded, or at least LinkedIn-wanked-over, campaigns that have a glaring fault. See if you can spot what it is:

That’s right: these campaigns are simply the same execution multiple times (one of them might also be a scam campaign, but that’s another point for another post that I’ve already written several hundred times). Sure, they’re slightly different, in that they are set in slightly different places, but that’s not really enough, is it?

I grew up at a time when ‘It’s the same ad three times’ was a withering, campaign-killing insult. If someone said that to you, and you possessed any self respect, you would pop back to the drawing board and add a fresh element to differentiate each one.

It might be a new visual, a new line, or an entirely new angle to the concept, but it would not be a slight change of location. The point of creating and paying for a new execution should be to add a further dimension to the campaign; a new point that can express additional information or entertainment.

You might love the above campaigns, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that each subsequent execution adds any more than a soupçon of further enjoyment to any you’ve already experienced. I would in fact wager a great deal of money that unless these executions ran next to each other, no member of the public would think there was any difference between them at all.

I have a feeling some of you might want to point out that the McDonald’s executions show that you can deliver to an office as well as a home, but big deal: that’s information anyone with an IQ over three would already know, so it doesn’t count. 

‘Ooooooh look! I saw that they delivered to houses but I had no idea they delivered to places of work!’ said nobody, ever.

You might ask about the reasons behind doing a second or third utterly pointless execution, or, on the flip side, the reasons behind stopping at three or four. Why not do eight? Fifteen? Thirty? Is it the expense? Sure, but someone needessly paid for number two and number three. Where’s does their largesse end? I have a depressing feeling that the answer is that these can now be entered for campaign awards as well as those for single executions. And maybe when pitch time rolls around four basically identical executions on a creds slide might look better than just one.

And that’s what I mean by falling standards. The creative teams, CDs, ECDs etc., along with account people, clients, award juries and LinkedIn masturbators have all given these campaigns a mighty slap on the back. I’m out here as a lone voice in the wilderness, pointing out something that to me seems blindingly obvious: they are a really, really good ad (except maybe the suncream one, which smells strongly of scam), but a mediocre campaign.

I imagine some of you think I’m being a picky bastard who, like some sad Oasis fan, won’t shut up about how much better the old days were, but I don’t care. Come at me with a decent refutation of my point and I’ll get back in my box.

Until then, here are some campaigns that are proper, actual campaigns. If you can’t spot the difference between these and the others, then I’m afraid I don’t know what else to say.