Wednesday, April 20

Advertising Dud: Why Great Creative Fails

Eastpack Ad
I have nothing against Eastpack. They started in the 1960s to make duffel bags and knapsacks for the armed forces. Twenty years later, the founder's son noticed that students were using military daypacks as book bags. So they started a new line for students.

They are a tough bag. They even come with a 30-year warranty (except those with item-specific warranties), which is how they came up with the tagline "Built To Resist." That's your background.

Imagine being a copywriter assigned to the account. You have a lot going for you. Military tie-in. Check. Retro cool. Check. Modern designs. Check. Unique selling point. Check. There is no question. If James Dean needed a backpack, this would be it.

So what do you do? Throw all that out the window and rip off an unrelated 1980s video game, changing out the bricks for students who hurl themselves off buildings. They don't even bother to land on the backpacks that are among the toughest in the industry. It's kind of sad.

Sure, there is some pixel art appeal lurking somewhere behind the scenes, but I seriously doubt people are contemplating the unseen connection. Instead, the newest ad campaign from Eastpack is a great example of how more and more advertisers think they need to draw attention to themselves instead of the products they peddle.

Will anyone even remember the brand? The copywriter might remember. But for the company, this is par for the course. They have produced dozens of advertisements where the creative is the hero and the product just an extra.

"Successful advertising sells the product without drawing attention to itself, it rivets the consumer's attention on the product." — David Ogilvy

Look, there is no doubt that the ads approved by Eastpack are an exercise in great creative. But great creative is more art than advertising. The difference is in what happens afterward. Art is designed to elicit an emotional response. Advertising is designed to make you want to purchase (or least know more about) a particular product.

A couple of years ago, Retin Art asked How do you feel about advertising? And in response, penned a post that captures how most people feel. We love it. And we hate it.

Too many advertising professionals are getting too smart for their own good. They want our attention but then never do anything with it once they get it. And that's why great creative doesn't really belong in advertising. It fails so badly that more people would rather read a product review. (Hat tip: copyranter.)
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