Is this a golden age of TV ads?

Bank of Ireland's delightfully playful ad.

A singing lava­to­ry seat. Delightful.

Say what you like about the Carls­berg wrong num­ber ad here, or Guin­ness’ peren­ni­al Christ­mas ad here, but there are a pletho­ra of TV ads cur­rent­ly doing the rounds that could give any­thing from the proud his­to­ry of adver­tis­ing a run for its mon­ey. And most of them have been made for our banks.

Where to begin. Well, for starters there’s that trio of stel­lar ads from AIB. In the first, we see a cos­mopoli­tan hued moth­er with her child, as she gets giv­en her new car by her, let’s call him part­ner – obvi­ous­ly they’re not mar­ried, they’re far too mod­ern for that — although it was still up to him to orga­nize the finance. But here’s the genius of the ad; they use actu­al footage.

Look at that, cosmopolitan or what!

Look at that, cos­mopoli­tan or what.

Nor­mal­ly with an ad like that, you’d have to get a cam­era crew, a direc­tor and hire a cou­ple of actors and the whole thing would look hor­ri­bly staged. But this actu­al­ly hap­pened! The camerawork’s all over the place and it’s all hor­ren­dous­ly shaky. Clear­ly, he took the footage him­self, man­ag­ing to cap­ture her reac­tion almost by acci­dent! It’s price­less. And here’s the amaz­ing thing; it’s not the only footage that AIB got their hands on either.

There’s that sec­ond ad, with this mum – a nor­mal one this time, you know, Irish – who gives her three kids the tree-house they’ve always dreamt of. And she man­ages to cap­ture their reac­tions as well, on cam­era! It’s heart-warm­ing, genuinely.

Fair play to you, Mick And Kate.

Fair play to you, Mick And Kate.

But the piece de resis­tance is their ad with that elder­ly cou­ple explain­ing how they’ve final­ly man­aged to pay off their mort­gage. The whole thing could have come across as unspeak­ably smug and been lit­er­al­ly painful to watch, were it not for the fact that tech­ni­cal­ly, it’s both bril­liant and dar­ing­ly innovative.

First, part of it is shot in glo­ri­ous slo-mo. Which gives the ad that touch of class — and frankly, I’m very sur­prised that more ads don’t make use of this. And sec­ond, part if it uses actu­al home videos which were nev­er meant for pub­lic view­ing, but which the cou­ple obvi­ous­ly gave AIB access to. You sim­ply can’t fake that sort of footage, and it gives the ad an emo­tion­al depth that’s gen­uine­ly moving.

Look, a hipster! Well spotted KBC!

Look, a hip­ster! Well spot­ted KBC.

Not to be out­done, KBC have pro­duced their own lit­tle gem. There’s this girl and her hip­ster boyfriend – you can tell he’s a hip­ster because he’s got a beard, and by the bye, I pre­dict beards are going to come back in fash­ion – don’t’ laugh – any day now. And flares, and maybe even dis­co. Also, any­thing vin­tage. Mark my words, you heard it here first.

They’re danc­ing up and down in their liv­ing room, mind­less­ly cel­e­brat­ing the deal they’ve just been offered by their bank. Which, need­less to say, would all be unimag­in­ably tedious and frankly unwatch­able, were if not for the bril­liant, not to say dar­ing inno­va­tion at the heart of the ad; it’s shot in glo­ri­ous slo-mo.

A still worthy of the ads themselves.

A still wor­thy of the ads themselves.

And there’s more. What about Bank Of Ire­land’s hilar­i­ous singing lava­to­ry seat. Which is both bril­liant­ly fun­ny and clever. Because the music that they use is actu­al­ly a sub­tle com­men­tary on the ad’s mes­sage. “Don’t stop believ­ing” they sing, which actu­al­ly has a dou­ble mean­ing, when you think about it – and dit­to cheesy, retro music loud­ly placed in a know­ing po-mo man­ner in ads and TV series, that’s anoth­er one you can add to my list of pre­dic­tions above.

The ghost of Christmas past.

The ghost of Christ­mas past.

Best of all though are those hilar­i­ous set of ads with those D4 lads, who sit chat­ting on that couch in those charm­ing AIG ads. Imag­ine how proud those All Black play­ers must have been to have had the chance to star in a TV spot with that pair of jokers.

And nor do we have a monop­oly on those kinds of heart-warm­ing if tech­ni­cal­ly dar­ing ads here in Ire­land. Have you seen that won­der­ful­ly emo­tion­al set of ads all those renowned poets have done for Nation­wide over in Britain? As we all know, finan­cial insti­tu­tions were prob­a­bly the peo­ple most seri­ous­ly affect­ed by the down­turn in 2008, so it’s real­ly great to see so many estab­lished poets in Britain doing their bit to try and help them get back into prof­it again.

A suitably lofty use of his poetic gifts. Well done sir!

A suit­ably lofty use of his poet­ic gifts. Well done sir.

You can read my exten­sive analy­sis of each of those, and indeed all of the above, in my 734 page epam­phlet which you can down­load (for free) here.

What an age to be alive.

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How Fantastic are the New Carlsberg Ads?!

horse-manure-002Most ads are mes­mer­i­cal­ly dull, jaw-drop­ping­ly tedious and unsul­lied by any­thing that could be mis­tak­en, how­ev­er remote­ly, for an idea. So how refresh­ing (pun intend­ed!) are the new Carls­berg ads?!

If ever there were a beer in need of being rebrand­ed, it was sure­ly Carls­berg! Some of you will prob­a­bly remem­ber that bizarre ad of theirs from back in the day.

A man walks down a cor­ri­dor, but stops to answer the phone he hears ring­ing in a room. Turns out it’s the Carls­berg Cus­tomer Com­plaints Depart­ment — you can see it here.

That’s hard­ly the sort of thing you want peo­ple to see in your ad! If any­thing, you should be telling them that when they drink Carls­berg, they won’t have any­thing to com­plain about at all!

But worse is to come. The ad con­cludes with an end­line that says, “Carls­berg; prob­a­bly the best larg­er in the world.”

Prob­a­bly! Any of the more expe­ri­enced ad men will tell you that you should real­ly steer away from words like “prob­a­bly”. “Def­i­nite­ly” would have been much stronger.

That same ambi­gu­i­ty was all over one of their more recent cam­paigns. “Carls­berg don’t do…” it went, and then they showed you all sorts of things that Carls­berg didn’t do. Like hol­i­days, apart­ments, the list was end­less. How neg­a­tive is that?! Don’t tell us what Carls­berg does­n’t do! Tell us some of the things that it does, like refresh­ing the parts that oth­er beers can­not reach!

And they fin­ished with that hope­less­ly defen­sive end­line, again! Prob­a­bly the best larg­er in the world!

Calls-for-a-CarlsbergWell as the fel­la said, if it’s broke, fix it. So it’s won­der­ful­ly refresh­ing (there it is again!) to see the much more pos­i­tive ads that they’ve now come out with. 

The first one appeared on our screens last sum­mer. It gen­tly ref­er­ences an obscure indie film from the 60s star­ring Steve McQueen. A man is sen­tenced to life in a health spa, but he fash­ions an escape, a great one if you will, and is reward­ed with a crate (ged­it!!) of Carlsberg. 

And the new end­line that it now fin­ish­es with? “That calls for a Carls­berg!”.

Thank God! That dread­ful dif­fi­dence has been replaced with firm, man­ly assertive­ness. Would it be hyper­bole to sug­gest that it is to ads what Steve McQueen was to method acting?

spartacus-movie-image-1The sec­ond, in what I hope will be a long run­ning cam­paign, is out at the moment. Once again, an obscure indie film from the 60s is ref­er­enced, this one by Stan­ley Kubrick. “I am Spar­ti­cus” they all shout. And they end up drink­ing over-lit pints of Carls­berg in an ane­mic Euro bar float­ing above a teenage graph­ic artist’s much, much younger broth­er’s vision of the future.

It’s hip, urban, and edgie. More to the point, it’s absolute­ly hilar­i­ous! And it ends on that glo­ri­ous endline. 

As much as I’d love to be able to claim that they’d devised the cam­paign here in Dublin, it is alas the work of Fold7 in Lon­don. Hats off to you, peo­ple. What can I say; that calls for a Carlsberg!

If there are any ads that you’ve seen, that you think are as incred­i­ble as those traf­fic-stop­ping pair of Carls­berg ads, drop me a line in the com­ment box below. 

I don’t of course believe you. But I would be curi­ous to see them.

Sign up for a sub­scrip­tion right or below, and I shall keep you post­ed every week on All the Very Best and Worst in Film, Tele­vi­sion and Music!