Cynicism or Sentimentality

Two Advertising Routes

On this lovely sunny weekend, I sat down to enjoy flicking incessantly between The Open golf and The Ashes cricket. Anyone who follows cricket won’t be surprised to hear that I soon just left it on the golf. But before I abandoned England like a fair weather supporter, some adverts from Hardys wine caught my eye.

They have turned it on its head to produce a decent set of quick, funny bookend ads

For those unaware, they are an Australian wine brand who sponsor England’s cricket team. What?! I hear you cry. Well, evidently someone at the early stages of the advert’s conception process at McCann Central thought the same, for these ads are all set and ready to fend off any indignant cynicism like a cover drive to the boundary. They have foreseen the eyebrow raising and turned it on its head to produce a decent set of quick, funny bookend ads that sit either side of the ad breaks. Here be but one:

If I was present in this McDonald’s restaurant to witness the last 10 seconds of this advert I would have vomited up my 9 nuggets and two cheese burgers that I had guiltily wafted down with a side order of self-loathing.

Quite simply the Hardys’ employees are so disgruntled by the Aussie brand’s association with England that they cannot hide their disgust. It reminded me of these great Newcastle Brown Ale ads that I chanced across when spring cleaning our old blogs in readiness for our new website. Stephen Merchant is perfect as an insincere ambassador for the new ‘Independence Eve’ holiday in America.

I’m a fan of these self-aware, faux scepticism type of adverts. They have a clever knowingness and tear down the equivalent of the theatre’s fourth wall to create a connection with the viewer, whilst also being funny.

Sainsbury’s most recent Christmas ad, by way of a well-known example, exists at the other end of spectrum; it’s all nostalgia and heart strings. It is not personally my cup of tea, with the romanticising of the War not sitting easy with me, but it was award winning and exceptionally popular. This was due to it being built on the fundamental human act of finding common ground, whilst being based on a true story that lots of people are familiar with. Though is it relevant to what Sainsbury’s actually offer? Not really.

I think McDonald’s recent ads go a little too far unto the realms of sentimentality. The newest one is this lonely hearts offering, climaxing in the two protagonists realising they always order the same thing via a chance synchronised order giving. Bless.

If I was present in this McDonald’s restaurant to witness the last 10 seconds of this advert I would have vomited up my 9 nuggets and two cheese burgers that I had guiltily wafted down with a side order of self-loathing. But that’s just me.

As much as their branding has come on leaps and bounds, I think McDonald’s is, to a degree, in denial that it’s a fast food restaurant. Or maybe it doesn’t want to be one anymore. They had another recent ad where an old man smiles across at a young black youth at a McDonald’s near a housing estate, the idea being ‘we all have McDonald’s in common’. The inference that McDonald’s is a perfect microcosm Utopia where people fall in love as if controlled by Richard Curtis Rom Com puppet strings, in a world free of ageism and racism, whilst admirable in its ambition and vision, is not grounded in reality.

OK, ads do not have to be grounded in reality, but this just does not feel authentic, and the cynic in me rips it up and rejects it. I doubt I’m alone. I think McDonalds are trying a little too hard, driven by a perpetual paranoia that is born out of the supersize me horror stories about what exactly goes into their food.

They could take a leaf from Harvey Nichols great new ad, and use real CCTV footage from their stores.

McDonald’s must have a treasure trove of tasty CCTV Saturday night footage that could form the body of a new campaign, getting us closer to the true social environment of a McDonald’s.

But no doubt, there are people who like the new McDonald’s offering, and ultimately there is something for everyone in ads. I’ve learnt it is a bit of a misconception that everyone hates the ads. The recent survey in relation to the future of the BBC’s TV Licence found that 60% of people would not mind seeing ads on the BBC.

Even the ads you hate are memorable. The ads you love, you will remember for years. And considering we see thousands of ads per day, the production of a memorable ad is some achievement.

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