Tuesday, 25 July 2017

KFC: Evidence That Even The Best Agencies Can Cluck Up Sometimes

Well done Mother. You’ve proved that you’re only human, after all.

Mother, a great London agency, only just won the KFC account from BBH, and they've already sent out their new TV campaign. And it’s extremely convincing.

At least, if you want to convince people not to eat chicken.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous wee piece. It’s a film of brassy beats and stylish cinematography. Badass chickens strut their stuff with flair and confidence, full of personality and –

And there’s the problem. You eat a chicken that’s tasty. You eat one that’s deep-fried. You eat one that has eleven herbs and spices and comes with cocaine-laced gravy.

You don’t eat a chicken for its personality. For the most part, we don’t like to eat things that we empathise with.

(Although that does rather raise some questions about Jelly Babies.)

Point is, when I watch that KFC ad I’m on the side of the C. The C is usually balanced with a bit of the KF.

Let’s drill down a bit. The key line used is “The Chicken. The Whole Chicken. And Nothing But The Chicken.” 

So the message is about the quality of KFC’s ingredients.

Although I don’t know if I’d really consider it a selling point in terms of quality if you’re using the “whole chicken”. Brings to mind the old “bits and beaks” worry people have when it comes to McDonald’s.

And in fact, in this spot you only see your badass chicken, with not a hint of the end product in sight. No sandwich, no wrap. Usually in a fast food ad you expect to see some food. Not pre-food.

(Although at least it isn’t post-food. Now that would be something.)

But wait, I hear you cry – isn’t advertising all about being unusual? Getting cut-through by cutting out the obvious and predictable? In that sense, surely there’s nothing wrong with leaving out the trite old packshot. We must think differently.

Well, true. But that requires a bit of thinking. As John Hegarty (ironically enough, the founder of KFC’s previous creative agency) has said, “cool isn’t an idea”. So there needs to be substance. And possibly the realisation that showing a living chicken isn’t very appetising. Feathers don’t make me hungry.

It just screams of thinking that you’re a bit too good to be selling fried chicken. Why sell product when you can be adland edgy and cool? Why sully your funky chicken with a product shot?

Vibrantly alive next to definitely deceased. Perhaps they thought it would be a bit jarring.

Or who knows? Perhaps the CD on the account is a vegetarian.

Take a look here:

Friday, 6 May 2016

JetBlue Wants Little Babies To Cry Before It Will Lower Its Prices

I’ve been being far too positive and nice about ads lately. Must be my kind and generous personality shining through.

(I am actually a decent person, honest.)

So here’s a terrible one, “FlyBabies” by MullenLowe for JetBlue in the US.

Here, we see mothers and their babies board a flight. But, this is no ordinary flight! It's a special flight where any time a baby cries, JetBlue will take 25% off everyone's next flight. Isn't that lovely?


The first issue, which I admit is at least partly to do with the US style of advertising, is the mawkish, over-egged drama of the whole thing. Nervous mothers, people staring, and obviously planted, scripted dialogue undermining any sense of genuine emotion. It feels inherently fake and forced.

Flight attendants: like huge, insincere spiders.
But my main beef with this film is that there’s no value to it. It was a stunt. A one-off. JetBlue don’t actually give a discount to people when babies cry on their flights.

(Which is fair enough. That would be a really stupid idea.)

It's an event, created to be filmed. What then is the point to anyone else? I can't imagine why we're supposed to be impressed with the kindness of a single event. If you're going to lecture us on a moral about being nicer to parents, you've got to make more of an effort than this.

I mean, it’s nice that a handful of people got free flights.

(It’s nice for them, anyway.)

No one else gets anything out of it though. What we get is a wee story about how great JetBlue are, because they once did a cool thing for a few people on one flight.

And then there’s this, from Elle:

‘For now, a spokesperson for JetBlue says the airline has no immediate plans to repeat the stunt. But, she added, "you never know what JetBlue has up their sleeves!"’

Which is basically the PR equivalent for “don’t look behind the curtain!”

I’m not saying this to be a Scrooge or to hate on kids. Quite the opposite. If anything it’s perverse that JetBlue are celebrating and rewarding and revelling in a child’s tears.

An understandable action, but I thought they were trying to make the opposite point.
That’s literally what they’re doing, when you come down to it. Linking financial gain with upsetting children. You're practically putting an incentive on people to make their kids cry. This isn't supposed to be Oliver Twist for heaven's sake.

(Although the choreography is almost as obvious.)

This is one of the dumbest, most meritless ads I think I’ve ever seen. JetBlue and MullenLowe, I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.