In 2018, Saatchi & Saatchi New York’s ‘Every Ad is a Tide Ad’ took over the Super Bowl, making headlines around the world. In the latest episode of The Ads I Wish I’d Made, M&C Saatchi’s Mandie van der Merwe and Avish Gordhan reveal why they consider it the best ad of recent memory.
In collaboration with Nine’s marketing solutions division for brands, Powered by Nine, we’re running a brand-new series, The Ads I Wish I’d Made, to reveal what makes an ad truly great.
Is it its ability to enter popular culture, as BMF’s Pia Chaudhuri believes? Or is it a commercial’s ability to hijack the minds of its viewers and the messages of other brands?
To find out, Powered director Liana Dubois chats with M&C Saatchi’s executive creative directors, Mandie van der Merwe and Avish Gordhan, in B&T’s second episode of The Ads I Wish I’d Made.
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.
According to the pair of ECDs, the best ad in recent memory is P&G’s ‘Every Ad is a Tide Ad’, created by Saatchi & Saatchi New York, which hijacked popular ads to make Tide product ads.
Showcased at the 2018 Super Bowl, the campaign was headlined by Stranger Things’ David Harbour and featured six times throughout the event, alongside commercials from the likes of Old Spice and Mr Clean.
However, the most important spot that kicked off the campaign saw Harbour act out generic ads for other products, before asking the question: “So, does this make every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad?”
With clean shirts, shorts, jackets and pants on display in every ad at the Super Bowl, everything that ran thereafter was infected with this idea, and the Tide ad won the day.
“In adland, we do like the perfectly styled, perfectly crisp, clean shirt so I think it’s a really interesting memory structure that they then create,” van der Merwe tells Dubois.
“And then that question … is mentally hijacking all of the other ads. I think it’s brilliantly smart.”
Gordhan adds: “It’s a massive idea from a creative perspective. It encapsulates everything you want from creativity. It’s got scale, fame, and it’s deviously smart.”
The pair also revealed why they consider Epuron’s ‘The Power of Wind’, by Nordpol—which picked up a Gold Lion for Creativity at Cannes Lions in 2008—the cleverest ad concept and execution.
“It’s just brilliant,” van der Merwe tells Dubois. “The reason it will always be one of my favourite commercials is that I think the marketers in that one actually value the intelligence of their audience.”
Gordhan adds that part of the power of this piece is how it shifts the perspective of the viewer.
“The thing that interests me is the insight,” Gordhan says. “As a person with curly hair and slightly longer hair, if you go out into the wind for too long you end up with an afro, right? Everyone knows that the wind is a bit of a nuisance. It’s a bit of a pest.
“The personification of it is kind of interesting, because you go, ‘yeah, that guy is a bit of a pest. He’s a bit of a nuisance,’ and the transition to when this character, Mr W, meets the guy from Epuron and finds value in his life and his place in society is weird, because it’s a very human, coming of age story with him finding his place.
“Suddenly, he’s got meaning, he’s got purpose. I think it’s very smart, because its funny, its charming, and slightly over the top in terms of the personification … but it explains why you should ‘go out and harness this power’ and why you should secure it.”
Furthermore, proving the power of a good idea, van der Merwe said that she didn’t encounter the ad herself, but was told that she needed to watch it by an old executive creative director.
“People talk about it, even if you haven’t seen it in the moment,” she says.
However, one of the crowning achievements of a successful ad, as Dubois describes it, is its ability to crack “the utopian dream of every marketer”—to enter popular culture.
According to van der Merwe and Gordhan, the most memorable ad to have done this, in recent memory, is Volvo Trucks’ ‘The Epic Split feat. Van Damme’, by Forsman & Bodenfors.
A live-test set up to demonstrate Volvo Dynamic Steering, the 75-second commercial features the Muscles from Brussels—Jean-Claude Van Damme—performing the splits between two moving trucks, set to Enya’s ‘Only Time’.
In 2015, The Epic Split won a Gold Lion for Creative Effectiveness at the 2015 Cannes Lions.
“As a marketer, the Holy Grail is being able to get people to imitate, to become part of the campaign,” Gorhan said. “Epic Splits did this in a very interesting way, because it wasn’t a social campaign.
“It wasn’t like the Tide ad where people suddenly start to recognise Tide ads, but people went out looking for the ad and looking to question it, which is a very difficult thing.”
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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