20/05/2019

Ad Break #12 Aspirational Ads


Amstel- Bringing people together? 
These days an increasing number of companies like to be seen as being on the right side of issues that are consuming public interest so adverts are becoming more idealistic and aspirational. Like for example why can’t we bring more people together in this divided world? If that sounds an unlikely ambition for a drink, then the link between bridges and beer is even more tenuous but Amstel’s latest advert features no less an icon than Jeff Bridges to convince us otherwise. Appropriately enough he portrays a bridge! 




The advert is part of a £7m campaign to raise the brand’s profile in the UK and while it’s fun to imagine a lot of this was spent on constructing a miniature version of Amsterdam it probably went mostly on special effects and the actor’s fee. For there he sits like one of those giants from a Ray Harryhausen feature of old extolling togetherness which of course is mostly achieved by drinking expensive beer!
Amstel has often proved difficult to obtain in the UK as many pubs don’t have what is one of the more expensive alcoholic drinks available. However the company is now pushing its brand and this is only their second UK ad. From the Adam&Eve/ DBB agency and directed by Tim Goodall, the advert is set in Amsterdam whose multitude of bridges now has an additional enormous Jeff Bridges one. The simple message that Amstel brings people together is shown not just by Big Bridges but by various citizens greeting each other warmly. Actually you only need bridges to bring people together if there happens to be a river between them. Unless they are talking metaphorical bridges?

Presumably ruling out other lesser known Bridges Heineken who own Amstel said of the actor “We tested him with an audience and he brought the gravitas, wisdom and charm.". Bridges himself said:  "Bridging differences, now that’s something we really need to do. I’d love this spot to encourage people to come together.”  Of course there may now be tourists flocking to Amsterdam to discover there isn’t really a giant Jeff Bridges there at all. 
Smart meters- Fighting climate change? 
They’ve been trying for about a decade to get us to buy smart meters with a campaign featuring two animated mascots Gaz and Leccy. These misbehaving electric sprites caused mayhem in the home till the smart meter brought them “under control”. That campaign leaned on how much you could save with a meter though that would not necessarily apply for houses in which a larger number of people resided.  This latest ad represents a change of tack linking getting a smart meter with helping against climate change though with careful caveats.
Featuring kids’ wishes for the world they’d like to see it was no doubt inspired by the recent upswing in public attention about the climate change issue though the ad tells us that smart meters alone can’t stop climate change but “they’re a start”.  “We all want to make big changes to help our planet, but sometimes to make big changes, we have to start small” declares the voiceover which sounds like it could be Maxine Peake who has voiced previous smart meter ads 


The kids appparently want a world where polar bears don’t become extinct and where clean air isn’t a luxury only available to those who can afford to live away from big towns and cities while the on screen sprogs leap into clouds and enormous butterflies flutter about. The striking music is called `We just won’t be defeated` and was originally released back in 2004 by Brighton-based indie group The Go Team  One of those earworm tunes with incomprehensible shouting it is a perfect fit. Though of course we know what the kids really want is a new xbox. 
Skoda- Helping people be their true self? 
There’s an element of contradiction in car adverts which espouse individualism yet produce thousands of identical models for people to drive while driving itself is all about rules. Anyway this approach does mean that car ads are always amongst the most entertaining and Skoda’s latest seem to pitch for Eurovision Song Contest levels of over the topness. Produced by Fallon London, the ad features several large stages- which are later revealed as being in one cavernous venue- from which five different types of performers chip in their version of `I Gotta Be Me`, the 1968 song originally recorded by Sammy Davis Jr.
Directed by Henry Scholfield, the truncated tv version opens with grime and hip hop rapper Lady Leshurr. The mash up includes the 20 strong  Kingdom Choir who performed at last year’s Royal Wedding, composer and pianist Alexis Ffrench and Yorkshire based indie group The Sherlocks whose line up consists of two sets of brothers. Finally we have Paloma Faith fast becoming the Annie Lennox of today (though she has yet to arrive with her own galleon as Annie did at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony)  ruffled to the nines belting out the song with gusto showing what a great voice she has. It is like a Bonsai festival with five acts in two minutes. By the end you do wonder what any of this has to do with cars yet it doesn’t really matter because this is a glorious slice of advertising and you know you’ll be joining in by the end! However... the full version is even better and shows more of all the acts ending with Lady Leshurr's mic drop. And here it is....




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