15 July 2019

Honest marketing cuts through

It’s 2019 and we live in a world of brand-led marketing that sells dreams; aspirational lifestyles portrayed through story telling. There is, however, a creative trend that looks to cut through all this, by being the exact antithesis.

Targeting a younger demographic who see conventional marketing from big brands as “inauthentic nonsense” this new style of marketing speaks to its audience honestly and directly. They break the fourth wall, if you will, and reference the industry they operate in.

Oasis are experienced players in this. The drinks company started their “O refreshing stuff” way back in 2015, leading with “It’s Summer. You’re thirsty. We’ve got sales targets.” What is key here is the tone of voice; it’s friendly, direct and on the audience’s level. The ads make fun of both the company itself and the marketing industry as whole. Oasis’ aim here was to make the customer smile and offer a refreshing take on modern day life, refreshing being the key word here. Alluding to Oasis’ thirst-quenching drinks, the ads also offer a ‘refreshing’ take on marketing. Be stale and follow the crowd, you’ll fade into the background. Be refreshing and you stand out.

Print and outdoor ads are product-led. They all eschew lifestyle photography for big bold typography and simple pack shots.

Oasis Outdoor Campaign focusing on clear cut messaging

The BrewDog TV ad is the purest, simplest example of this as the word “ADVERT” fills the screen, accompanied only by a simple pack shot and a heavy rock soundtrack. It’s shameless, it does what it says on the tin – it’s an advert and they aren’t scared to admit it. Created by UnCommon and launched during an episode of Game of Thrones, Nils Leonard, the agency’s co-founder explains “The ad break in GoT is one of the most prestigious media slots in the cultural calendar. Brands often spend big here, investing in massive narratives and slick films often referencing the show they sit around. So, we didn’t.”

The desire here, an ongoing one for Brewdog, is to stand out from the crowd. While storytelling has been a common theme in advertising for years – the now predictable John Lewis Christmas adverts being just one example – these brands are looking to surprise the expectant consumer and get them to sit up and listen.

What I love most is how the brand is able to talk through a billboard, TV ad or social post, directly to the consumer, in a way that others have simply stopped being able to do effectively.

This desire to stand out is not of one marketing campaign, but of the whole brand – it’s inherent in their brand strategy and focus. These are challenger brands looking to disrupt and gain attention, to get people talking. And what better way to get people to notice you than by talking to them like people, real people that know you’re trying to sell them something.

BrewDog TV ad during Game Of Thrones