A splash of honesty…. Good or bad idea?
If you are the observational type, you won’t have missed the latest Oasis summer advertising campaign (which was actually launched in 2015 and repeating this summer), consisting of posters, short social media videos and animated digital ads.
or the uninitiated Oasis is a flavoured drink and is drunk by the bucket-load in the Spindler household. The Adshel posters were the ones that made me aware of the campaign and, shall I say, surprised me the most. Driving past, I read on one: “It’s summer. You’re thirsty. We’ve got sales targets”. I had to concentrate not to crash, because I just couldn’t believe what I was reading.
Here it is in all its brutal honesty…
“We want to connect the brand with a new generation of consumers,
through an observational take on modern world”
My first reaction was: “What happened to creative copywriting in advertising?” Yes, I get they were using a different approach, but I was disappointed. The agency which created the campaign said: “We want to connect the brand with a new generation of consumers, through an observational take on modern world”. To do that, they decided to be very open about how each bottle of Oasis sold contributes to their sales targets. They stripped it all back. They removed the advertising magic from the advertising, in my opinion.
The justification for their approach is, they say, they are attempting to appeal to a new wave of consumers that place a great deal of importance in a brand being honest and transparent. It apparently reflects two big recent marketing trends: humanised marketing and insane honesty marketing.
The latter is supposed to build the trust of the consumer by speaking to their unconscious mind, so they think: “Well if they are truthful enough to tell me about their weaknesses, the messages they put out about their strengths MUST be true!’. I’m not so sure this is how MY mind processed the campaign’s messaging.
"I want the product to be advertised TO ME, I want it to fulfil MY wishes,
I think I would rather be fooled into a world of fresh, colourful, ice cold liquid coming out of a unicorn’s gushing horn than know that by buying a product I’m contributing to a sales target (even though deep down I know this is what happens). As a consumer, I don’t care about that, in the same way I’m not bothered about how much advertising space actually costs (of course, if I think about it with my account manager’s hat on, that is a totally different story).
I want the product to be advertised TO ME, I want it to fulfil MY wishes, MY expectations. It should be all about me as a consumer and not about some sales spreadsheets. Selfish you may say…. So be it. It works. Perhaps I just didn’t get the joke. I appreciate that lots of people love the campaign, including some of my fellow Happies and, to be fair, I do love parts of it too. But when sales and advertising space costs are mentioned I just feel deflated.
David Ogilvy, one of my all-time inspirations in the advertising world, once said: “When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative’. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.” When I relate this quote to the Oasis campaign (or parts of it, shall I say), I feel that they missed a trick. They just went too far. The honesty, the ‘joke is on me’ take is a good approach, but when you feel like a number contributing to a bigger number, it all becomes very uninteresting indeed.
“If anything, the whole thing made me think of the purpose of advertising.”
I remember the (crucial, highly-pressurised, soul-searching) time when I had to decide what to study at uni. I’ve always loved marketing, but the idea of selling, selling, selling bothered me. I didn’t want to be contributing to a world where money is everything, where sales targets rule the roost. But the other side of marketing, the creative side, the thinking of ways to best communicate with people, the research, the creative ways in which we can make people aware of something… that got me enrolled.
I liked the idea of advertising providing a service. I didn’t like the idea that in advertising you can bend the truth and make something look better or more essential than it actually is, but I liked the idea of showcasing what is out there to people in a creative way so they can make their own decisions.
The Oasis posters took that away from me. They took away my enjoyment when I look at a nice, creative piece of advertising material. It took away the dreaminess of advertising. It put it all in another world, one that I don’t really want to know about, one that I don’t relate to. The world of money. And even though advertising, sales and, ultimately, money are obviously linked, I’d rather not have that spelt out to me. I’d much rather read between the lines.