Monday, 20 December 2010

Total recall

"Have you seen that great new ad?"
"Which one?"
"You know, it's got the guy who used to be in that thing with the woman off the other thing."
"Hmmmm, that's not helping me. What's it about?"
"Well, they're in a bar, and he starts chatting her up, but she's not really interested."
"Oh, I know the one you mean. It's hilarious. What's it advertising again?"
"Haven't a clue. It's either a liqueur or an insurance comparison website."

And that's how advertising seems to work these days. The better the writing and acting gets, the harder it is to remember the brand that's being promoted. Back in the good old days, the ads may have been shit, but at least no-one ever mistook Nanette Newman for a Persil spokeswoman.

Nowadays, advertisers have to work so much harder to achieve any kind of message recall, so much so that they're having to find new ways of making their mark on ambivalent audiences. And a new cinema ad by BMW is doing just that, stopping short of wandering from screen to screen with a red hot branding iron and a ball-gag.

If you've ever looked at the sun (or Simon Cowell's teeth) for a little too long, you'll know only too well the sensation of having an image imprinted on your retina. And it's the same principle that's being employed in the new BMW ad, which leaves viewers with an 'after image' of the company's instantly recognisable logo.

Using a heavy-duty flash and a cardboard stencil to replicate the sensation of staring at an eclipse, the ad features motorbike racer Ruben Xaus inviting audiences to "Just close your eyes and look deep inside yourself. Maybe it’s your dream too. Close your eyes and you will see it. Close them now."

The dialogue might seem like the soundtrack to a particularly traumatic repressed memory, but thankfully, viewers are merely left with an impression of those three famous letters, rather than the image of an over-amorous uncle's crumpled lap.

Not everyone wants a residual image stamped on their eyeballs, which is why there are already concerns about the campaign's ethics. Nervous marketers are worried that the sudden flash might trigger epileptic seizures and leave them susceptible to litigious American consumers

People tend to be a little squeamish about their eyes, having been raised on old wives' tales about the blinding power of anything with more than 30 watts of brightness. And yet we've allowed our ears to be abused for years by unscrupulous advertisers with a heavy hand on the volume knob. 

So although the sudden flash of BMW might not be entirely appealing, I don't think we need to worry about a Day of the Triffids-style outbreak of mass-blindness just yet. But just in case, throw on your Ray-Bans before you press play...

No comments:

Post a Comment