Thursday, 27 May 2010

Mad Panda Ads. Why I Love The Client Most.

Of Pandas and RainbowsImage by The Searcher via Flickr
The region's advertising industy has been oft-heard to complain that it's down to the clients, that the agencies' cool creative teams come up with edgy, smart and clever executions but that clients don't run with them.

I've always thought that was balderdash. I can't understand why clients put up with much of the advertising we see around us, particularly the strange and breathless 30 second outbursts of parping that pass for radio advertisements. And I find it hard to believe that a client wouldn't go with something creative and smart that worked and actually communicated a proposition effectively. I suspect much of the disconnect lies here - that the 'really smart ideas' are great for awards but would fail to do the humdrum job that the client has in mind - actually selling stuff.

I frequently look at the bad ads and wonder how on earth they got made, put myself in the meeting. You know the sort of thing - we're in a boardroom full of pony-tailed goatee beards in open neck shirts and Massimo Dutti jackets and hapless client...

"This is gonna be huge, George. We got a guy in his car, see? And he stops at the traffic light and asks his friend where he's going in such a hurry, isn't that right, Elli?"

"Yes, that's right. See, George, Raymond hit the nail on the head. Guy in car, friend. You can see it there, no? The smell of hot tarmac and exhaust fumes, then the guy revs up and says he's going to the Chicago Beach Hotel brunch and he describes it like it's a really hot woman, kapisch? All signature cuisine this and tantalise your tastebuds that. And at that very moment, the lights change and they both start racing. Over the sound of screaming engines we hear the guy shouting, 'why are you racing me?' and..."

"The other guy shouts, 'to get there first' at him!"

Whole team looks eagerly at client, who grins with relief and says: "Sounds great guys! I'm sure glad you got my account!"

Yes, thank you, I do feel much better now. Anyway, lovely colleague Maha found these ads. They are a wonder indeed. They were created by four-man Cairo boutique agency Elephant for client Arab Dairy and its Panda brand cheese - it was actually the dairy's agency of record, Advantage Marketing & Advertising, that brought Elephant into the room.

Crying with laughter, I have to admit to being blown away that ads this good are coming out of the region. And while I'm admiring of Elephant's creative and execution, I think the award should go to Arab Dairy for going with the whole idea. Why not, ad guys? If you're going to blame the bad clients, celebrate the great ones, no?

There are more of them - see here, here, here and here. (Oddly enough they haven't created a YouTube Channel or  done anything particularly 'social' around this other than put it up.) Alternatively, if you want to catch a glimpse of traditional over-produced, drab and lifeless ads more typical of the region's output, here's an ad from last year's campaign.

(BTW, you don't really need to speak Arabic: the Panda ads all follow the same basic idea, person is offered Panda cheese, says no and then the Panda appears, stares at them for a time carefully calculated to induce a strong sense of awkwardness then gets violent.)
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EyeOnDubai said...

Gotta love the mavericks. And yes, kudos to both the account management team and to the client for carrying a thought through to the screen, pure and unsullied. And this from a copywriter, too!

How long, I wonder, before we start seeing stroppy cows advertising other dairy products, deranged camels promoting chocolate, or worse, oversize yellow worms extolling the virtues of shopping?

Seabee said...

Having been both the ad agency and the client I have to say I've always believed that responsibility lies totally with the client. The client selects the agency in the first place and has the power of veto over anything they produce.

There is absolutely no excuse for the bad advertising we see so much of. If lazy and unprofessional agencies are allowed to get away with producing rubbish - as they do all too often - the client is at fault and should be removed by his/her the CEO.

alexander... said...

EoD - that's brilliant!

"Wanna come shopping son?"

"Nah. Don't like shopping."

- Modhesh appears. He looks menacingly at the kid, who starts to cry...

"Mum. I'm scared!"

Modhesh leaps across the room and tears the kids throat out with his bare teeth, laughing maniacally...

Neelofer said...

One of the reasons why clients are usually skeptical about innovative executions is because of the risk involved. They don't want to do something out of the box lest it should fail and not meet their campaign objective- they don't want fingers from top management pointing at them and saying, "You asked for xx amount of budget and said you’d get the results but nothing really happened". Hence, they are more inclined to sign off executions that look like the standard ads. One more thing- they tend to follow what their competitors are doing (esp in this region). If Competitor-A is doing something standard, the client will follow the same route. If Competitor-B launched a grand campaign that focuses on region first executions, voila! The client wants to do something along the same lines. Having said that, there are a handful of clients who are receptive to big ideas and take that step forward because they understand that investing now in an unconventional idea, brings in the ROI plus they get noticed on a macro level, not just regionally. So client happy, agency happy= awards, recognition for both parties and more investment for future campaigns.

Harsha said...

heh. compare the resources they would've spent on last years campaign to this year. and the results.

good find indeed!

HE said...

I can just picture Elli and Raymond - ofcourse they'll have cigars later.

I'll be honest with this, I really feel its the Egyptians that are doing these smart funny creative ads at the moment - they have this hilarious campaign for Dominos Pizza, you might have seen it, but ill post the link because its worth the share, it has english subtitles - hilarious! make sure you view all three parts;

HE said...

sorry Alex for using your blog to do this, but it is worth sharing,

I posted the link to parrt one for the Dominos campaign in my previous post;

here is part 2

and part 3

El Shahlab said...


I think there is a third stakeholder - main stakeholder - that we took for granted. And that's the audience. Some advertisements are less innovative and straight forward because it is intended to a segement of society who are simple, such as housewives, uneducated, living in the villages...etc. For such segment, the Panda campaign - while extremely hilarious - but for them would be irrelevant.

So it's a triangle of Adv industry, client, and audience.

But it's good to finally see such creative advertisements after a long period of advertisements that evolved around either: a pretty girl holding a product while singing out its benefits, or a direct dialogue between two people counting the benefits of a product.


Doug said...

Some advertisements are less innovative and straight forward because it is intended to a segement of society who are simple, such as housewives, uneducated, living in the villages...etc.

Leaving aside the casual misogyny that 'housewives' are uneducated...the example Alex suggested is for a brunch. The sort of event typically attended by Westerners, who generally will have completed education up to at least 18 and probably beyond.

To be honest, the most repellent thing about UAE advertising is it reflects the incredibly shallow nature of many people - everything is all about pandering to your ego like you're some special little flower, always about how you deserve elite this or sumptuous that. It's also a reflection of the unsophisticated nature of the people in charge of companies in the UAE. Your average MD in the UAE is the sort of person who genuinely thinks having a massive gold watch with some special little logo on it makes them a person of amazing taste and sophistication, a real jet-setter. In another age, they'd be the sort of person who would forfeit their homeland for the sake of a few shiny beads.

Incidentally, I think you're underestimating the Panda advert. If I was a kid (ie. not as sophisticated or educated as Master of the Universe with a Rolex) and saw that advert, I doubt I'd ever eat any other non-Panda brand cheese ever again, because the funny angry panda made me giggle and some coke came out my nose haha ROFL etc.

KJ said...

I love that Panda!

I did a one week workshop at TBWA/RAAD and we conversed about the quality of the ads in the region - which I loathe with passion - and they said that they can't innovate much because the people "here" are tell-not-show kind and clients think we're dumb and they don't like to break new barriers.

Any toothpaste commercial is a good example

KJ said...

And just FYI, Modhesh is a brand of dishwasher in Syria LOL! That stupid worm that swallowed an accordion!

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