From IKEA’s Silence the Critics to Volvo’s The Epic Splits, The Ads I Wish I’d Made has looked at commercials that have been so iconic they changed culture. But there are few ads perhaps as unique as Pot Noodle’s hilarious, and at times touching, commercial The Ring.
In collaboration with Nine’s marketing solutions division for brands, Powered by Nine, B&T is running a brand-new series, The Ads I Wish I’d Made, to reveal what makes an ad truly great.
It comes as Nine lays down the gauntlet to creatives to produce industry-defining commercials in State of Originality, for the network’s 2021 State of Origin spectacle, with $1 million in advertising up for grabs across Nine’s TV, digital, radio and print assets for the winning ad.
In the series’ latest episode, Powered director Liana Dubois chats with Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder’s creative partner, Ant Melder, about ads so iconic they have pushed brands through the stratosphere of advertising—and changed culture.
Melder’s pick? The clever, hilarious, and progressive commercial, The Ring, by Lucky Generals.
A co-founder and creative partner of Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder, Melder considers The Ring to be the ad to have “cracked the Holy Grail” of advertising, as Dubois puts it, and entered popular culture.
It’s an ad, he adds, that fits the brief for Pot Noodle—as the historic “go-to brand for slackers”—perfectly. More than that, The Ring subverts our expectations and breaks down gender stereotypes.
“Pot Noodle has a hallowed place in British culture as this famous, ridiculous [brand of] instant noodles. So you don’t want to get too serious or too wordy with it,” Melder tells Dubois.
“I think these guys delivered on doing something that did the brand justice.”
The Ring was released in 2015, a time when Pot Noodle’s association with slacker culture had lost resonance with today’s 18 to 24-year-olds. In creating this commercial, Lucky Generals flipped its key brand benefit—simplicity—so that it appealed to “today’s go-getters”. The agency launched with a spot about a young lad who dreams of success in the boxing ring as a ‘ring lad’, smashing through gender stereotypes. He became an internet success.
According to Lucky Generals, even the guy who made the soundtrack made it. Young artist Raylo was snapped up by a major record label and Lucky Generals created his debut video.
“One of the genius things I love about it is the line, ‘you can make it’,” Melder tells Dubois.
“You can make it in life on your quest, but also this is a Pot Noodle ad so pour some water into it … there’s product truth in this.”
Commercials can also achieve great things for their clients, by transforming their identity: Melder’s pick for a commercial to achieve this better than others is unconventional to say the least.
In 2012, Paddy Power released a 40-second spot called ‘Chav Tranquilizer’, by Crispin Porter. It’s an ad that Brits will be familiar with, but Aussies are likely to have never seen, which plays on a British racing stereotype.
To put it simply, the ad has a laugh at the expense of Australia’s equivalent of bogans, chavs.
“What I love about this one is they’ve taken a stereotype of a certain type of people and had some real fun with it. Straightaway you’re going, ‘Oh my God, can they do that?’. I personally love ads that make you think, ‘how did they get away with that?’.”
It’s an ad that pushed the envelope and lasted just four days on TV before it was uploaded to YouTube. Paddy Power said the timing for Chav Tranquilizer’s ban was “some kind of record”.
“In advertising and creativity in general, you need to have some room to play and to push those boundaries of how right-minded we should be, and to have some fun, and particularly in this category—betting—to be silly is a good thing,” Melder says.
“There’s a line—and I’m not advocating for anyone being offensive or doing things that are going to upset people. But there’s a line. And I think, really great work kind of knows just where that line is.”
But how do you make some of the duller categories of products—specifically, the ubiquitous but boring cleaning products of everyday life—interesting to consumers?
According to Melder, products in this category typically take the route of advertising the science behind them. But Unilever’s Vim cream took a very different route that “turned it on its head”.
Mother in Prison, by zig, was released in 2007 and brought a human—but outdated and stereotypical—face to the impossible category.
In 30 seconds, the ad tells the story of what appears to be a mother in prison, who is in fact trapped cleaning a shower bath with an inferior cleaning product. The ad ends with the message: “Don’t spend your life cleaning” and pans to an image of Vim cream.
“You can’t always have the budgets to do big epic things,” Melder says. “The one thing that doesn’t cost money is stories, human connection. And the way they [zig] brilliantly told the stories of these two characters really hooked you in … and then obviously the rug pull is just so brilliant.”
Entries for Nine’s State of Originality are now open, with the nation’s largest creative prize, $1 million in advertising, up for grabs for creatives who can come up with an industry defining commercial for the State of Origin.
For more information and to enter, click here.
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