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An Adlantic divide

One of the many marvels of Google is Google Alerts. It allows me to appear as though I am very widely read indeed.

So I thought I’d mention an interesting article I spotted in the New York Times. It was about the fact that the winners of the BTAAs, which took place last week (the ‘beef’ has nearly been digested), are about to tour the US.

The BTAAs were, as ever, a great window into the best British TV advertising. Personal highlights from the winners include T-Mobile’s ‘Dance’, which I will never tire of no matter how many times I see it; The Department of Transport’s hugely powerful ‘Live with it’; and Weetabix’s return to glory days with ‘Steeplechase’.  It was also great to hand over some more glittering prizes to Alexandr Orlov, and to scoop an award ourselves for our TV ad (had to mention it). But I was surprised and sad to see Hula Hoops leave with a lowly diploma. Still, we can’t all agree.

So, to the piece in the New York Times. It began with the headline ‘British TV ads flaunt their arty side’. At the heart of the piece was this thought:

“British commercials have long been known for their creativity and innovation. But from an artistic standpoint, most American advertising, perhaps except for those made for the Super Bowl or the Web, pale in comparison with their British counterparts. And unsurprisingly, British ads have long attracted a huge following in America.”

And it included this comment from Richard Silverstein, co-chairman and creative director of the San Francisco-based advertising firm Goodby, Silverstein & Partners:

“In general, TV advertising has always been a high form of public art in the U.K…People over there watch commercials as if they are entertainment.”

This is not true of all TV ads – nor will everyone agree on what is entertaining – but in general it certainly is true of many of the most successful ads. They entertain and elicit an emotional response. YouTube gives us a nice window into this world of ads-as-entertainment.

Whether or not you agree with the idea that the UK does creativity better (and I’d be interested to know what people over here think), the piece lead me to thinking about how, in the UK, likeable and ‘creative’ ads have been proved to be more effective in business terms by the IPA, in its seminal ‘Marketing in the era of accountability’, and by Thinkbox, in our own Engagement Study.

As an industry, we depend on those brave advertisers who both buy into and buy the work, and who don’t obsess about easier to measure but less significant metrics such as recall. The facts are there that show the business power of creativity.

  • Lindsey Clay
    Lindsey Clay
    CEO, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
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