CREDIT: Paddy Power ad (2011)


A little while back we noted the increasing self-consciousness of Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign, with the wildly smug Old Spice Man going mano a mano with male model Fabio in an Internet duel. Our ISM team (Image Source Monitor) see a parallel trend in British television advertising that is similarly self-conscious: ads that play against the formula of ‘pretentious’ adverts.






This television spot for Tesco Mobile, from agency The Red Brick Road, is twenty seconds of waffle, quirky people making gnomic statements or spouting fake profundity while ethereal music plays, and then a hard cut to a woman against a plain backdrop who wants to cut through the nonsense. Given Tesco Mobile’s brand position is ‘no-nonsense, really useful network’, an ad gently mocking the conventions of mobile phone ads, where the buzz words of ‘communication’ and ‘connection’ are given a cosmic dimension, seems a good strategy.





A recent ad for betting site Paddy Power follows a similar trend. Prince Harry’s girlfriend Florence Brudenell-Bruce gesticulates languidly in a black room filled with white balloons, whispering about – again – ‘communication’ and ‘connection’, and then a man appears, pops a balloon and tells her she’s talking nonsense.



The self-referential and mocking approach works for companies that pride themselves on being no-nonsense, ‘this is the product, this is what we are about’. It’s a bold move, but would it work for other sectors? Can you imagine Adidas undermining the power of one of their cinematic adverts by telling the viewer ‘it’s just a shoe you can run in’?




By Mark Wright (Assistant Editor)





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