New things I like

I work in PR and marketing, so I always keep my eyes and ears open for cool new things.

I noticed two TV ads recently which I thought were really unexpected and impactful.

One is by Nationwide and is a series featuring spoken-word poets “talking about what’s important to them” – I particularly liked the delivery of Hollie McNish’s poem ‘Little Things’.

The other is by TalkTalk, and is essentially a mini fly-on-the-wall documentary of a regular family in their house, called ‘This Stuff Matters’.

I was wondering what stood out about these ads.

I guess one thing is personal preference: I like spoken-word poetry, and I like subtle and low-key advertising, so both of these naturally would appeal to me.

But I was also thinking that every type of media—TV, newspaper, radio, online, social, etc—has its own set of rules and expectations. It’s similar to films and novels, where each genre has its own tropes, like the happy ending in a rom-com or the obligatory action-film car chase.

If brands are aware of these expectations, they can cleverly subvert them and stand out.

The tropes that I expect from a TV ad are things like: sleek production quality, emotive music, professional voiceover, attractive product shots, maybe some story-telling with a character and plot.

So I like these two ads because they both subvert those expectations. They use the tropes of different media like documentary and poetry, and they draw on these different qualities, using them in a big broadcast channel.

I think this is better for the brand and the customer, to be honest. At least it prevents us from living in some homogenous environment where the media we consume all live up to our expectations.