19 Apr

Oh dear, BT: not quite full circle…

A few years back, Honda ran a ‘live ad break’ which involved skydivers. More recently, John Lewis have run their much hyped Christmas ads.

In each case, there was a shedload of PR run prior to each ad being shown for the first time; press releases, newspaper articles, blog posts.
This is so that people – the general public – are already aware of the advert, and are looking out for it. This needs to happen because, in general, we don’t look out for specific adverts – we skip past them.

However, for ads such as the Honda and John Lewis ones, the cost of running them will go into tens of millions of pounds.
Taking up an entire 2-minute ad break (whether ITV or Channel 4) will cost around £1m on its own. That ad will then be run across several, shorter, 30-second slots (each one costing around £250,000).
Separately, Honda/John Lewis would’ve paid several million to a creative advertising agency, to come up with the idea – plus the cost of production, plus the cost of using media planning and buying agencies etc.

Why do I mention all of this?
Well I was stunned to hear, during Gogglebox (Channel 4); ‘and now a special break for BT’.

I’d seen/heard no build up to it, and was completely unaware that it’d be running in that ad break. That’s a big risk to take if you’re running a ‘special ad break’ that you want people to be sat down for.

Anyway, I decided to watch it …. and it’s bloody awful. Here it is:


I’ve seen this type of ad many, many times before: an ad where the advertiser/agency takes the p*ss out of the contrived process of creating it (not only that, but using celebrities in a self-parodying advert has already been done by BT’s rivals; Sky and Virgin. You’d think BT would try something different).

This type of ad works when the self-deprecating humour is funny: when the idea goes full circle and makes the audience laugh at how bad/silly the whole creative process is.

Unfortunately for BT, these adverts don’t quite manage that. They only go ‘half circle’. I found them cringeworthy. I watched them with six other people, who also found them cringeworthy.
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but you can tell that the agency/client lacked a proper idea for the adverts, so tried a self-parody… which hasn’t quite hit the mark.

I say ‘adverts’ because there was a second one which followed the first…which, in my opinion, was even worse:

This kind of ‘idea’ (in quotes because it’s something that’s been done many times before) has to be really good, in terms of self-deprecating humour, to go full circle.
Unfortunately, BT’s effort hasn’t managed it and just comes across as a bit desperate and… well… sh*te.
In truth, they would’ve been better off just making a ‘normal’ advert.

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