Ad Break#18 Fashion, Success and Phones

Argos - “I’m holding a duck” 
One of the things about lockdown is that more people might see some of the great adverts around plus you at least have to watch five seconds of them on YouTube. In fact the inspiration for this  irregular feature is that I realised the ideas and cleverness that go into ads often outshines the programmes they are in between. Here’s a case in point- a surreal Argos ad that pushes their established `so good you can wear it` concept to absurd new heights. Fronted by model and actress Suki Waterhouse it takes the company’s already established theme of ` so stylish you can wear it` to even more surreal places by taking the rise out of pretentious fashion ads. 

Created by The&Partnership London and directed by David Kerr, the advert sees Suki sporting various outfits that at first appear to be high fashion yet on closer inspection are designs from Argos’ homeware range. Her voiceover is full of pseudo buzz phrases like “I’m an enigma, a mystery” and “I look at life differently……that’s why I’m lying down”. As we see her wearing a drawer she says “Your mind is a draw- open it” leading to my favourite laugh out loud moment when she declares in all seriousness “I’m holding a duck” as the picture shows her doing just that. The wide ranging campaign even includes a spoof behind the scenes film.

The costumes were designed using actual Argos products by Verity Hawkes who said: "Some of the bigger dresses were a challenge—the pattern cutting was a big job, especially as they had used such a huge amount of fabric. The location definitely added to the designs, evoking a very romantic feel; the carpet and duvet covers echoed the design of the house."

The company has said: “The Argos Home ‘So Stylish You Can Wear It’ campaign has been a great success to date, so we were really excited with this new creative idea. Suki Waterhouse’s comic performance is pitched in a perfect fashion whilst the style and quality of Argos’s Home Spring/Summer range really comes through.” Suki Waterhouse herself added: “I've never considered nor been asked to model a carpet as couture, nor an armchair as an accessory. The result is a campaign I doubt viewers will forget in a hurry." The duck, unsurprisingly, said “Quack”.

Barclays- “What does success sound like?” 
Banks have had to adjust to the altering financial landscape to the point where the latest adverts aspire to nothing more than promising to “keep your money safe” or not move your money from one account to another. Hardly essential. Hence the latest Barclays advert for mortgages acknowledges that a lot of people are not able to afford a mortgage until well into their thirties. So we find a woman opening her front door and asking what success sounds like. Now the early version of this ad showed her slamming the door shut unconcerned about the noise it makes but curiously that has since been edited out so when she answers the question with the word; “This” nothing seems to happen.

Speaking to camera she’s addressing Money as a person as recent Barclays ads are wont to do but the whole idea that she doesn’t have to sneak past her parent’s room “at 33” is sort of lost due to the edit. Once inside she tells us there are still “bills to pay and mouths to feed”. “We’re only just getting started” she declares in front of what looks like an arena concert’s worth of amplifiers. I’d surmise her neighbours are not going to be very happy with someone who slams the door shut and plays music at such ear bending volumes. Even Dave the cat might be on the move soon.

Titled `Make Some Noise` the advert, featuring actress Emma Fletcher, is for a Barclays Family Springboard mortgage about which it tells you nothing specific. Launched last September it is part of a campaign to push the brand in a new direction based apparently on research data that alarmingly suggested over 12 million adults have little or no confidence in managing their money. The bank’s marketing communications manager Alex Naylor said: “The big human truth we find captivating is the idea that people have a complex, often difficult, relationship with money and they have begun to conflate that relationship with their bank with their relationship with money”. The aim of their latest campaign he said is to suggest the bank as a helper or partner rather than an obstacle. As for Miss Noisy I doubt even Barclays would be able to help her if she doesn’t turn down that music. Mind you I thought it might have been funny if we’d actually heard the music she plays and it turns out to be Mozart!

Apple- “We only come out at night” 
Smashing Pumpkins no less are unlikely creators of one of the year’s catchiest advert songs in this new spot of Apple’s latest phone. Nowadays phones are advertised as if they are cameras so you had that one heralding the fact the phone had a “video bokeh” and everyone went “You what?” before heading for Google. An easier concept to get across is the iPhone 11’s night mode which appears to enable you to take stunning photo exhibition level snaps of things at night. You might- or more likely might not- notice something flashes up saying additional software was used to make the example we see look so stunning. You can take photos without flash and in low light and just twiddle that software and they look pretty amazing actually.

I once was a fan of Smashing Pumpkins and saw them live in their imperial period at the now gone London Astoria. I can’t remember if they played this song but it’s from their best known and most ridiculously monikered album `Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness`. When the album was re-issued in 2012 Head Pumpkin Billy Corgan claimed he only penned the song to prove he could play a zither. “I wrote this song that night to prove them wrong, a clever riposte to where we all thought ourselves so clever and dark and cool.” Erm, thanks for that, Bill.

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