The Red Zone – 26 April 2013
Today’s Adforum event entitled Car Showboating put the marketing ventures of the world’s top car brand’s to the test. Ten TV commercials were played, and then dissected by four media experts Dee Black (Bobi), Jonathan Deeb (Havas Worldwide), Andy Rice (Yellowwood) and Larry Khumalo (Ornico). The vote was then put to the audience, who either gave them a red or green card based on what they saw.

While some brands wowed the crowd and judges with their production quality, engagement and general sexiness, there were quite a few that got the red card. One of the reasons for this was that they provided too much information.


In an ad that promotes the Nissan Juke, we see a fast paced action scene folding before our eyes, which proved quite stimulating, however, the voice over provided too much information that detracted our attention away from the main selling point of the ad. Similarly, Jaguar had a strong concept, highlighting its “roar” in its commercial and powerful imagery to support this; however it detracted from the main message by including narrative that simply didn’t add to the main idea of the ad.

According to Andy Rice, “Clients and agencies try to pack too much information into an ad” and this takes away from the message that the ad is meant to deliver. It is better to spread a message powerfully and clearly as opposed to untidily and haphazardly. Remember, we do not necessarily create layers of meaning in an ad by providing more information. There is a multitude of other creative ways to make that happen.

The hero has changed

Dee Blackie’s fascination with James Bond and her mild disappointment at the lack of 007-looking car models featured in the ads not only provided a humorous element to proceedings but pointed to the fact that the hero onscreen is changing. Blackie felt that the male models featured in ads have gotten “nerdier”.

Oresti Patricios also pointed to this trend in his previous trends talk when he stated that this is the age where “coders become king”.

As our economy and the digital arena evolves, those who have large pockets of digital talent that will move our industries forward are handsomely rewarded and receive more fame, attention and money for what they do than previously before. This is the decade, after all, that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg actually had to have his wedding in secret, away from the public eye.

Moving away from ‘Stepford families’

The Hyundai Santa Fe ‘Don’t tell’ ad features children and who are in the company of either their moms or dads ‘misbehaving’: eating in the car, taking the dangerous ski slopes, going to rock concerts, etc. During each activity the characters use the line “Don’t tell mom” or “Don’t tell dad”. The main concept of the ad is best highlighted by its closing lines, “The best stories you’ll ever tell start with ‘don’t tell.’”

As Blackie points out, car ads such as these are repositioning the depiction of a family in the media’s eye, moving them away from ‘Stepford families’. This is a more real approach, and could possibly engage more with consumers as opposed losing their attention amongst the media noise of stereotypes.

Brand Intelligence

Larry Khumalo from Ornico provided fantastic brand intelligence analysis on some of the most prominent vehicle brands. This stunning presentation included macro and micro trends, advertising spend and social media prominence. Click here to check it out.