The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

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December 13, 2006, 9:17 am
Filed under: Comment

The Original Belgian Thunder Self Portrait. Circa 2001

As much as I am into innovation – I don’t believe in doing it simply for the sake of doing it … or in the case of ad agencies, doing it in a blatant attempt to get some cheap PR.

Fuck, where has the ability to think ahead gone?  At HHCL we were basically taught to be intelligently brave … and nowadays, it seems like there is a policy of intelligence vacuum.

Giving the World another great reason why drugs are bad, Dutch Ad Agency, Strawberry Frog, have ‘invented’ [hahaha] a new ‘communication medium’ … THUMBVERTISING.

Basically teams of volunteers are touring public spaces with their thumbs aloft, displaying logos tattooed in henna onto their thumb pads as well as having mini ad banners suspended between their thumbs.

No, it is not April 1st … this is the crazzzzzzzzzy World of Advertising.

Strawberry Frog creative director, Mark Chalmers, goes on to show he really has been drinking the kool-aid by saying [apparently with a straight face]

“Thumbvertising raises a smile, is engaging, memorable and has a feelgood factor that’s lacking in most modern advertising.

He is taking the piss surely?  No … I don’t think he is.

And if that wasn’t bad enough – an old client of mine Douwe Egberts’ [another Dutch company!] – has fucking signed up for the daft idea, launching a massive [if that is possible with ‘thumbs’] campaign in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

The MD [who surely must be ousted by shareholders after this] goes on to say …

“We wanted to advertise our latest product in a way that engaged with consumers and generate word of mouth interest”

If they wanted engaging, memorable feel-good advertising … I can assure them there are many more powerful ways to do it – and that includes both traditional and none traditional approaches … and that leads to the practical question of how media agencies are going to evaluate/book this astounding medium.  I mean, will there be an R&F on thumbs and if so, how many people will they have to recruit to achieve 50% at 3+?

Thank God my Dad is not alive to see this. He thought advertising was a daft industry in the 90’s – when some good stuff was actually being developed – but now? Christ Almighty – have we really sunk this low?

What both Strawberry Frog and Douwe Egberts have failed to understand that any fool can get their brand noticed … running down the street with a turkey on your nether regions will do it … the trick is to encourage desire, enthusiasm, interest. 

Hell, if I saw some knob-end [or as is probably the case, student] waving their thumbs at me trying to flog a cup of coffee, I think I would have an overwhelming desire to kick their heads in, not run to the nearest supermarket and buy the thing.

Talk about undermining brand credibility … I already feel negative towards the coffee brand for simply insulting my intelligence. 

What next?  Eyelid advertising … Teeth advertising … Poo Advertising [oh, we already have lots of that don’t we!]

No wonder the industry is regarded so badly when this sort of thing is major ‘news’ … and I am sure I am not the only one thinks Strawberry Frog and Douwe Egberts are full of corporate toadies who follow a policy of celebrating the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ rather than shouting, “It’s crap and he’s naked.”

Bad … badder than bad … badder than the baddest bad thing on the planet Bad. 

14 Comments so far
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Run for President Rob, you are so right. The only pleasing thing about this whole sorry episode is that StrawberryFrog are showing the World they are overhyped and don’t deserve the glowing praise that has been heaped on them previously. Some of their previous ambient ideas had some merit, but this just is pointless, embarassing and upsetting. Cheap PR when you have little to say.

Comment by Pete

That’s funny, I’ve just been having that exact conversation with the lovely Planning Director from O&M. No, not about me running for President, but about ‘Frog’s’ hype. They have done some good things, but then so has Y&R and JWT, haha!

Comment by Rob

‘pLanning director for O&M’ namedropping again, only jealous. When Rob finds out how much influence you have he’ll be questioning why you haven’t got him a job yet;-)
‘Thumbvertising’, dear oh dear, sounds like something Perti Van Helden would suggest in Matt Beaumont’s ‘E’.

Comment by Northern Planner

As lovely as Gorse is … I don’t think she is well known enough to be considered someone whose name can be ‘dropped’.

As for my hero Perti Van Helden – I once got an email from some Planner in Germany who wrote to me about the work I did for Virgin Atlantic.

After I sent her some info, she replied and said, “Thanks to the information we are now ready for take off”

Yep, could be Perti’s wife!

Comment by Rob

I think someone has been thumb scraping the bottom of the barrel with thisidea.

For Douwe to believe that this kind of promotion is suitable for their brand just shows how completely out of touch they are with their own product identity.

I find it hard to believe that SF could think this is suitable for that client!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

SF seem to have a policy of ‘agency PR’ comes before ‘client need’ … which is a shame because I do think some of their planners are really smart guys. But then, if they were that smart, they wouldn’t let this sort of shite happen. [Sorry Didi, I know you were not behind this travesty of marketing justice]

Comment by Rob

“The Fonz” would be proud.

Comment by MarcusBrown

2-1 Douwe stop this campaign after it is totally unsucessful
3-1 A thumbvertiser gets strangled with his ad within 3 months
10-1 It works as people drink more Douwe just to stop annoying twats with thumb ads pestering them

Place your bets now…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hey … the whole ‘buy this product to stop this advertising’ would be a great idea. I know there’s tons of crap out there, but no one has ever said they’ll take it off the streets if sales reach a certain level. Inspired strategy in these days of greater and greater ad crap!

Comment by Rob

Heineken did the ads with all the hated Z list celebs singing, with the promise that the viewer would be rewarded for buying more Heineken… eventually they released the tigers.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I knew it was too good to not be done before. Damn, ha!

Comment by Rob

They were great ads actually. Really did make you want to drink the beer to see what happened next.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

[…] And adfolk wonder why so many people think we’re a bunch of twats. […]

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