Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Ad, Bad Ad

People in the Ad world all want a memorable ad. The problem, I think is that a memorable ad does not make it an effective one. Even ads that I love have little connection with the brand, or even worse, get in the way of a really great product.

I think the Mac vs. PC ads are kind of like that.

It was fairly clever at first, but know I feel like a voyeur watching a bad Jr. High Election debate. I really don't care about Vista problems and I don't think Apple gets any traction by talking about their competitors, when they could just show us cool pictures of their lovely machines and we will drool and buy them. They plug into the desire that pushes a consumer forward (as do their original ipod silhouette ads).

Here is another case in point: Holiday Inn Express.
Good ads? Great ads? Well they are totally memorable ads, but all they tell us is that a really clever agency came up with some good creative. Holiday Inn Express = Smart. Does this make you want to consume this product? I want to be smart, and furthermore, I want people to think I am smart, but it doesn't move me.

Here is the thing, the Holiday Inn Express brand is a new product. Previously my brain put Holiday Inns in the same category as Best Western: Cheap, family motels where you pull the bed spread off when you walk in so as to not make contact with the stains. But the new ads aren't much different than their older ads which had a similar message(and were very clever).

I stayed at an express a few weeks ago and discovered that they are much closer to the Marriot line as far as quality goes. They have a standardized set of accommodations including really fantastic beds, nice linens and a selection of firm or soft pillows depending on your preference. Everything about the place is restful and they have this nice graphic touch labeling everything (towels=soft, soap= cleanse) This may just feel like a cutesy decorating touch, but it is a little detail that you notice when you stay that assures you that your lodgings are going to be what you expected.

Doing a fair amount of travel for work, I am going to prefer this brand to others, but not because of the ads, which I like, but because the experience is much different, and better than I expected. I am surprised that they have done nothing, advertising-wise to express the difference between the Holiday Inn Express and the Holiday Inn Family Resorts. There is a series on the breakfast bars which is nice, but nothing to really distinquish the brand (P.S. the breakfast bar is really pretty okay, at least a half-step above the regular "continental breakfast" spreads). The desires that push me when finding a place to stay when I am traveling for work are generally: rest, security and price. I find that the HI Express is pretty competitive in all three. So maybe that is why I wish the ads did their job better.

Or maybe it's just because I have been staying at Holiday Inn Expresses and I really am that much smarter and can improve their ads for them now.

Any other ads out there that are funny/memorable, but don't move you as a consumer?


Brian Watkins said...

you're right about the Holiday Inn Express ads, but this is one of the rare ad campaigns with a line that can become a pop-culture saying. I have heard so many people say "and I saved a ton of money on my insurance by switching to Geico." Kanye West even inlcuded a Geico reference in one of his raps. "Gotta get that insurance Geico for yo'monayyyy..."
Business travelers usually have multiple choices for accommodations and we all have numerous choices for car insurance. Even though we don't like to admit it, often we make these choices based on emotion. Making us laugh while including your brand in the punchline is priceless. You're right, I wouldn't have even known that Holiday Inn Express is different from Holiday Inn. But perhaps the goal of this campaign is simply to increase brand awareness. They may be planning a separate campaign later on to highlight the fluffy towels,etc. Thanks for reminding me about those old Holiday Inn ads. Those were great.

Damian said...

You are right that it causes brand awareness, but to me it doesn't seem like a very durable awareness. Because the name is so similar to their other brands, I think most people file it in the same place in their brains.

In fact in my first draft of the article, I really thought the old Ross Brocoli (yup, that's that guys name) ads were possibly for Holiday Inn Express.

There is another campaign that is trying to be "viral" that is about businessmen that spend a lot of time on the road. It doesn't get run on TV as much, but the messaging is pretty similar.

Marcilyn said...

have you seen the British Mac vs. PC ads with Mitchell and Webb? so much better than the American ads.

k8 said...

i have to side with Damian on this one-I've seen those ads and I think they are clever but I have yet to book a Holiday Inn express- I just figured they were clever ads for the same old Holiday Inn. If there was a wee bit more connection to what sets them apart it would be a far more effective campaign.

the problem is that ad agencies want to make sexy ads, but sexy isn't always what truly makes a brand sell. we make a lot of lovely ads that i don't think sell a damn shoe ever.

April said...

We saw an ad last night for Village Inn, in which a plate of breakfast is talking to the camera (sunny-side up eggs for eyes, bacon strip mouth). I don't remember anything about the commercial except the ending where the hand of a diner moves into the shot and dips his toast into the egg (eyeball), at which point the face on the plate starts screaming. It was really funny, but the likelihood it will encourage me to dine at VI? Zilch.

By the way, Tom would be so happy to hear you say how much you like HI Express. Not that he has anything to do with the advertising end of things, it is just nice to hear good things about your company's product.