Thursday, March 22, 2012

OK. Now what do we do?

Caught "Three Little Pigs", the new long-form advert for The Guardian during My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding the other night. It's a very ambitious piece of work, running over two minutes. Its point is, I suppose, that news is different in the age of social media.

Ad men always used to tell me that every ad had to finish with a call to action. In the case of a newspaper or magazine this was usually something along the lines of "buy it tomorrow" or "available now with free toy".

The Guardian ad doesn't finish with a call to action. Instead the message is that the brand can be accessed in a number of different ways. Which is true. But still a nagging question remains - does the lack of a call to action suggest that modern media organisations are no longer quite sure what it is that they can expect people to do?


  1. I had a similar reaction. Clever stuff but ... so what?

  2. Agreed. I train people in Presentation Skills and I am frequently having to remind them that we need to send the audience away with a clear thought in the form of a Call to Action. You wouldn't expect to have to remind advertising people of this requirement.

    Another mantra we follow is 'Don't expect people to just get it...spell it out for them'...even for an intelligent audience such as Guardian readers.

  3. Does being able to access the news whilst waiting at the bus stop make the world a better place? Watching the news feed, or maybe that should read speculation, 30 minutes later on a TV/computer screen shows that the eventual fate for the wolves and piggies of this world plays out just the same. As for what Joe Public is expected to do - Joe probably doesn't have time to read a paper, watch the news as it plays out on his laptop and his poor eye sight means he can't even see the text on his smart phone; let alone read learn and inwardly digest it.

  4. ..."even for an intelligent audience such as Guardian readers."

    Can I just say at this point that all audiences are equally intelligent?

  5. Having recently seen the Storyville documentary "Deadline: the New York Times" I have been pondering the future of my paper of choice, the Guardian. What struck me most after watching the documentary was how important good quality journalism is to how we understand and engage with the world. But more than that it is that good quality journalism is worth paying for.

    The Guardian appear to have taken a different path. They have taken a product, that I have happily paid for all of my adult life, and made it worthless. The advert suggests that the future for the Guardian will be instant reports with endless comments and speculation from people who may or may not know what they are talking about.

    So in response to your question: what did I do after seeing the advert? I shook my head in despair. Was that the correct response?

  6. Clearly not but the way you use the expression "all my adult life" indicates that you have established media habits and therefore you're probably not the person an advert like this is targeting.

  7. True. But previous Guardian adverts did make me feel positive towards the publication and made me want to continue buying it. This advert made me think, "Jeez! I might have to start buying The Times."

  8. As an ex-adman, I assumed, probably wrongly (being far more ex than adman these days), that it was all about [meaningless-buzz-phrase klaxon] added value. I also assumed that the call to action was implicit because spelling it out would have been, well, a bit embarrassing.

    "Look, we give you this, this, this and even this. Don't you think that, in return, just a couple of times a week, you might actually buy the bloody newspaper?

  9. Does anyone else think the ad. is a complete misfire?I've seen it three times in the cinema and I can sense a definite lack of enthusiasm or engagement.The thing is, they've actually always had the best website of all the English newspapers.