18 May

Phenomenal self-aware advertising

I was flicking through the Creative Review 2014 annual (I know, hark at me…), and I came across something that I can’t believe I hadn’t seen before: this beauty, below, for BITC, about giving ex-offenders a second chance (or at least challenging the view of not giving them that chance) in terms of employment:

Yes, the message is there – and it’s spot on for what BITC/Leo Burnett wanted to achieve – but it’s the device that really got my attention.

We know that people are, generally, active avoiders of advertising – we don’t want to be sold to and most advertising out there is simply crap, irrelevant, or banal – but YouTube ads have to be the most intrusive and irritating of all (that and those bloody website ‘skin adverts’ that cover the page and make you accidentally click on them).

If I’ve chosen to see a music video, an old film clip, or just the standard cat-doing-something-daft, I have no interest in the 30-second advert being forced upon me before I watch that video. I don’t even have time for the five seconds before I can ‘skip ad’. In fact, I resent those five, wasted seconds.
I end up negatively disposed to the brand that’s advertising for trying to shove their product/service down my throat, instead of allowing me to watch what I’d picked.

…anyway, you get the point and I’m sure most other people feel this way about these pre-video ads on YouTube.
With that in mind, what BITC/Leo Burnett did with their ‘second chance’ idea, shows brilliant self-awareness of the way people view that type of advertising (and ads in general).
People can’t wait to click ‘skip ad’ – almost unthinkingly – but are brought sharply into focus by the fact that the ad doesn’t disappear, as expected (and that the ex-offender looks visibly shaken).
The more they go down the natural ‘skip ad’ route, the more they are locked into seeing the message, right through to the end.
It also helps a great deal, that the chosen actor is particularly good: I felt awful after I’d clicked ‘skip ad’ for the second time, even though I was consciously doing this to see the whole ad.

Hats off to BITC/Leo Burnett for a brilliant piece of self-awareness, and fingers crossed this gets the results it so richly deserves.


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