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Top 11 Valentine's day ads

Ahh it’s that time of year again everybody, can you feel it? Overpriced bouquets of roses being bought, people are frantically trying to get a reservation at any restaurant they can and engagement ring sales are probably booming. For those of us who are single they’re buying red wine and romantic comedies for the big night, or is that just me? Anyways, enough with the cynicism, I’m just going to get to the point. Like most holidays brands create ads to coincide with them, which can lend a lot to the brand and the ad. So without any further introduction here are my top 11 Valentine’s day ads, in no particular order. We’re going to start with probably one the best companies to produce V day ads which is Durex, I’m not going to go into the reasons as to why they’re perfectly suited to make these ads. In this one we see a field of roses and just as you’re about to mentally check out as it looks like any other traditional ad you see a couple, riding lawn mowers, cutting through the roses. It’s a pretty hilarious image and comes with a great tagline. “Cut the cliche this Valentine’s” Well played Durex, well played. Next we have Virgin trains. For this ad they’ve gone for a realistic approach instead of actors. Now this ad is on the list for two reasons, one how they managed to tie in their brand to the creative and do it as well as they did, and two, because it’s just sweet. Now whether they’re a real couple or actor I won’t think about as I want them to be real. Usually I’m not a massive fan of using animals in ads if they’re just there to be cute and try to get views. I feel like this is just doing a disservice to the creative, however, if the animal is a part of the creative or the story then I’m all for it, why not put two dogs in if it serves the story. While that’s what sainsburys did with this cute, funny ad. This is a type of ad that i’ll admit I’m a sucker for, talking to camera (breaking fourth wall style) with a funny, witty script. The video was produced to promote a third wheel deal for the big day. I must say one of the reasons I like this style is because it can be produced without spending a tonne of money and how good the ad really depends on how well the script is written. I think this one did a very nice job. This was one I’ll admit I hadn’t seen until i was actually doing research for this article, and it’s great. Such a clever idea and really captured me, I felt invested in these people and this story right from the start (whether they’re actors or not). The the twist comes, they’re not in completely different places but actually 1 stop away, literally. It’s hard enough writing a twist for a feature film so to have a twist in a 2 minute ad is pretty cool. Now for another ad I hadn’t seen before, made by Netflix India we see a couple’s relationship, start, develop, get rocky and come back. This pretty much feels like it could be its own netflix original series, it’s got a great, quirky style which lends itself to this, it also references Netflix shows in a realistic way, very meta. I like this ad, it’s got charm. While this may not necessarily be a Valentine’s day ad I think it can work as one. The video was produced to show the subtle gender stereotypes when ordering drinks and how Heineken wants to be for everyone, not just men. I think that’s a pretty nice, not to mention relatable, topic for an ad, even if it’s not exclusively for Valentines Day. Moonpig, Valentine’s day is probably one of their biggest days of the year, so it makes sense to have kick-ass Valentine’s day ad. This is their one last year and it honestly had me laughing, the whole concept revolves around whether the people being interviewed are givers or receivers, I mean the statement makes sense for a company who delivers cards, gifts and flowers but the mind does wonder. It pays on this double entendre as the ad goes on until you finally get the final reveal and a, not so subtle, wink to camera. Take a simple, fun idea. Produce and market it well. Nine out of ten times you’ll have a fantastic ad. In 2017 Tinder ran a campaign for their users to tweet their ideal Valentine’s day in emojis and Tinder would make the best ones become reality. They then produced a series of bite-sized videos demonstrating the concept, maybe just a little too literally. This isn’t an ad but is rather a parody of Valentine’s ads poking fun at the cliches often included as well as the cliches of the holiday in general. While not my favourite SNL sketch, it did make me laugh as I looked through ad after ad that seems to be identical, I thought why not include it. It’s also a pretty good instructional video of what not to do on V day. A lot of the ads on this list have been funny, or charming, but this one really makes you think. The idea behind it is great and effective. It’s a little gift shop that looks on the surface like its full of cute Valentines day gifts but when one looks closer they all have a deeper message, I’ll let you be the judge. Hopefully this list wasn’t too painful to read through and you saw a couple of ads you liked that got you inspired. Despite my cynicism I do actually like the holiday even if it’s just getting a take away and watching a movie, grand gestures and ‘Say anything’ type moments are great and all but life’s not a movie. Sometimes the best nights are the nights spent in, hope everyone has a fantastic day and you all get the love you deserve. My goodness that ending was a cringe-inducing ending. Just kidding. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Is the future of advertising VR, AR and MR?

Things in this world are constantly evolving and changing with advertising being no exception. What I’ve been wondering recently is what will be the next thing to revolutionise the industry as TV advertising did in the 1950’s? I personally think that XR has a very big chance of being that medium. What is XR you may be asking yourself? Well, it’s the umbrella term for several forms of reality, primarily Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. Just look at some of the brands that are incorporating it into their plans. Alexander Mcqueen, Burger King, New York Times, Top Shop, Volvo and the list goes on. Did you notice that? Just look at how diverse those companies are. It’s not just one company or one industry using this new technology, but most of them. Why? Not all too long ago using XR was seen as just a gimmick that provided numb entertainment for 30 seconds at tradeshows. Now it seems to be much much more than that, real stories and emotions are being brought into these campaigns. Just look at the Coca-cola/WWF campaign. I think this campaign had much more of an impact using Augmented Reality than if they had simply produced a video around the same topic. This is because the people in the campaign are actually ‘in’ the campaign. They’re not just a passive viewer at home but actually interacting with the campaign making them a lot more invested, and this investment is like the glue that will make the message stick. This can be said for a lot of the XR campaigns you may have seen in the last few years. Whatever angle they’re taking (comedic, emotive, etc) they try and get the audience actively involved, audiences see hundreds if not thousands of ads every day so standing out is becoming more challenging. People will remember something they are involved in a lot more than something they just observed. The Benefits What’s great about having the audience investment is there are also a hundred different mediums under this umbrella to get it. There’s VR headsets, 360 videos, Interactive cubes, AR/MR app experiences and my personal favorite, AR mirrors. A brand writing off XR as a whole is like writing off breakfast because you don’t like cereal. It may not be the right time in a brand’s journey to produce a campaign like this but I think it should be pitched because you never know when one of those mediums will fit an objective led campaign perfectly. Another benefit of XR marketing is that it isn’t just a one-trick pony. If you produce a campaign involving XR technology there’s a multitude of content you can produce other than just the main campaign. You can film reactions to it, create a BTS film, an event film and even a case study around it. So if someone thought it would be one big campaign followed by radio silence that’s not the case, as having a multitude of content to push out after the main campaign is not only easy but also very effective. The Future While this medium has many benefits I think the main thing that will affect whether this becomes one of the key mediums of advertising in the future, is technology. The tech for XR is becoming more advanced and accessible which means it’s also becoming more affordable which, at the end of the day, is determining factor. However one only has to look at the past to guess where this will go, once upon a time you had to have a big budget and a studio behind you to make a movie. Now you can do it with your phone, and if you’re talented and persistent enough make something pretty damn great. I think XR will not only be a big part of advertising’s future but storytelling’s future as well. As the tech becomes more advanced and cheaper, creatives and producers not only accept it but embrace it and consumers get more curious and excited about it. I am truly very hopeful for this medium, stories are evolving just like everything else and there’s a lot of amazing stories that can be told through XR, and I can’t wait. Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy

Top 11 ads of 2019

My first article of 2020, no pressure right? During my break over christmas I wanted to get a head start on my new years resolution of writing more. So I thought I’d rank my top 11 ads of 2019, because why not? So here they are in no particular order. 1: Glenlivet – “Original by tradition” An ad I felt was somewhat overlooked last year but I really enjoyed. What I think made it stick with me was the fact they’ve taken a traditional idea, telling a brand’s story and history, but then combined it with fast stylized visuals and a tight script to create a fun, memorable ad. Well done to the minds behind it, proving you can take an idea that’s been done and still make it original. 2: Burger King “Burn that ad” Going from something more traditional to something completely outrageous, it’s Burger King’s AR campaign which captured not only the attention of burger buyers but also the whole advertising community. I don’t think anyone had seen anything like this before which makes it even better, by far one of the most original as well as edgy campaigns of 2019. 3: Argos – “The book of dreams” One of my favourite things about Christmas every year, other than the obvious, are the Christmas ads. It seems like every year agencies and brands aren’t just trying to beat the competition but also their own ads from last year. Argos really did it for me in 2019 with a funny idea, executed really well, and a classic soundtrack. What more could you want?  4: Starling Bank – “Start feeling good about money” Now some might say I’m biased for putting this on my list as we conceptualised and produced it but I genuinely love the look of this ad. Not only that but being part of the shoot I have a lot of memories attached to it. The one that sticks with me is carrying two 20kg camera batteries up a mountain to get one of the shots. Good times. 5: PlayStation – “PlayStation Now” Sometimes an idea for an ad is amazing, but it doesn’t happen because people say it can’t be done. Playstation made it happen. All your favourite video game characters falling from the sky, you have my attention, before landing in people’s homes showing how PlayStation Now can bring all these worlds right into your living room. This is just one of the ads playstation knocked out of the park last year. 6: Hinge – “The Dating App Designed to Be Deleted” I love this ad because it’s just such a great and relatable idea. Not only this but it can be shown in a very visual and funny way. It only takes one look in the comment section to see I’m not the only one who likes this ad with many people saying it’s the first ad they didn’t skip through. It also worked very well in print making this a very effective campaign as well as fun. 7: Lego – “Rebuild the world” This ad is fantastic for how it takes their product and combines it with the real world to create this completely unique place. I see things throughout this ad and feel instantly nostalgic, as I’m sure many people did, making it work through the generations. There’s definitely a je ne sais quoi to this ad. 8: Bosch – “Like a Bosch” This ad made me laugh out loud, on purpose, while learning the details of a product. Now that’s impressive. Taking what could have been made into a very run of the mill product film and turning into a great parody which not only is hilarious but also tells you all the ins and outs of their product. How cool is that? 9: Sipsmith Gin – “We make Gin not compromises” Imagine it, going into a pitch meeting and suggesting making a stop motion video of a quirky swan talking you through the Gin making process. Sometimes we have ideas that are so bizarre they just work. Like this one. A great looking video, a witty script, and it’s all coming from a swan? Sign me up. 10: Apple – “Airpods – Bounce” While this ad looks absolutely awesome, and does actually capture how it feels to wear Airpods (yes I really did just say that) what I think makes it so cool is the fact everything in the video are practical effects. Yes you heard me right, all of it was done in real life. 11: Renault – “30 years in the making” I absolutely loved this ad, it almost feels like its own short film. While a lot of the ads I liked this year were comedic, charming or visually stunning this is pure storytelling, filling it’s two minute run time with as many twists and turns as most features. I think it’s a great story, literally 30 years in the making. What I love about advertising is the same thing I love about films, books, and most things in life, it’s the fact that it’s subjective. An ad I love could be an ad you hate and vice versa. If you think something should have been on this list, or shouldn’t, let me know in the comments, I love explaining why people are wrong. Just kidding, I love a chat and I’d love to hear your opinions. Now let’s see what 2020 brings!

The things you should never do in advertising.

With new ideas and creatives coming into the industry all the time, advertising is constantly changing and evolving, It seems like the skys the limit, which in a sense it is (if you have the budget but that’s a topic for another time). However even with a deep well of ideas at an agency’s disposal there are still things you should never do it advertising. Sticks and stones Let’s start with a pretty obvious one. Don’t be insulting, don’t get me wrong I like a bit of cheeky humor in an ad but there’s a big difference between humor and insults. Whether that’s insulting your competitors, their customers, your customers or just any group of people. At the end of the day ads are trying to sell to you, maybe not directly but that’s the end goal so insulting or irritating your audience doesn’t seem like the best plan. Buy! Buy! Buuy! Don’t try a hard sell in your ads, now this one does not apply for every ad but let me explain. Everyone knows the buyer’s journey from finding out about your company all the way through to them buying your product or service, ads are usually telling people about your brand or having them recall it, starting to lead them along the journey to becoming a customer. But if you have a hard sell in your ad, and viewer’s never heard of you, it’s like you’re throwing them straight in the deep end instead of taking them on this journey. Also people just don’t really like getting sold too. Ramblers, let’s get rambling Tying in with my last point, don’t spend the entire video or print talking about the specifics of your products or services. Although this may seem strange, and I’ve had companies ask me why this is when they’ve wanted to go into the details of their product. Doing it is fine… in a product film, but for advertising it’s best to avoid. This is because you have no idea if the viewer is interested, the idea of advertising is to make them interested then let them get the details for themselves. Winging it Now one of the most important… not having a plan or strategy in place. Advertising’s usually not cheap and producing a great piece of content is a big step, but if no one sees this awesome content then there’s a problem. You’ve got to figure out who you want to see it and where you can have them see it. Whether that’s on LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook or even OOH and TV. The great thing about advertising strategy today is with most mediums you can test something before you go through with it fully. This allows you to see if a strategy is worth investing in allowing you get the most return on investment possible. The obvious  Lastly, dont lie, once consumers lose trust in your brand winning that trust back is a long long road. Not to mention an expensive one. For instance we’ve all heard of shoes that can help you lose calories and tech that said it was half the price and double the speed of the competitor. Not only would this be very bad for your brand’s image but will also land you a big fine for false advertising. It all seems a lot more hassle than it’s worth. The antidote While I’ve mentioned the things you shouldn’t do in advertising, I haven’t touched on the things that you should do. Like be brave, creative, funny or serious and most importantly…tell a story. People remember stories, what made them laugh, what made them cry, what made them smile, and if someone remembers an ad long after it was made, isn’t that the point? Writer – Travis Usher – Creative Manager @ Ekstasy
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