08 Jan

Specsavers: how do they keep doing it?

I love Fawlty Towers. I was brought up on a healthy diet of that, Monty Python, The Goon Show, The Two Ronnies, The Pink Panther films.

Actually, I could name you every classic Fawlty Towers scene; Basil’s goose-stepping, Manuel’s run-in with the Irish builders, Basil caught looking through the Australian guest’s window, the fire drill… you get the picture.

So, it was with both delight and fear that I heard John Cleese had reprised the role of Basil Fawlty for a Specsavers TV ad.

But, you know what? I saw the ad last night, and it’s bloody good. It made me laugh. It reworks the classic ‘thrashing a car with a tree branch’ scene and makes it relevant to the brand, what they stand for, and their strapline.

Here it is:


However, my main thought was; ‘How do they keep doing it?’
How have Specsavers (or their creative team) managed to make such a long-running campaign out of such a tired joke (misunderstandings based on not seeing something properly), and how do they manage to make each execution of the idea both original and funny?
It’s quite a feat.

I can even name you – aside from the Basil Fawlty one – two of my favourite Specsavers ads: the one where the vet mistakes a fluffy hat for a cat, and the one where a lumberjack accidentally chops down / saws telegraph poles instead of trees (can’t find a clip of that, sadly).

Oh, and the strapline will easily outlast the campaign. It’s already in everyday conversation, every time someone is clumsy/doesn’t see something: ‘should’ve gone to Specsavers’ (it’s also shouted at referees, by football fans).
It’ll live on as long as ‘does what it says on the tin’ has.

It’s not a new idea, it’s not a new joke, but Specsavers have worked wonders with it.

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