I recently wrote a less-than-enthusiastic blog about the Tube campaign for AEGON’s new Retiready product, or service, or whatever, saying that the “borrowed interest” creative approach, giving people marks for aspects of their behaviour while travelling on the tube, distracted people from the proposition rather than drawing them in any way towards it.
What I didn’t do, but perfectly well could have done, was to broaden this into a less-than-enthusiastic blog about just how many Tube campaigns do in fact attempt to engage us with ideas about what it’s like to travel on the Tube. The Mars Bar has just turned up with a new campaign allegedly related to its epically long-lasting “Work, Rest, Play” theme but actually about the small satisfactions available to Tube travellers, Nutmeg’s new campaign features ideas parallelling the ease and speed of dealing with Nutmeg and the ease and speed of travelling by Tube. And there’s another current big consumer brand campaign drawing some other kind of analogy, but I’ve momentarily forgotten what it is.
Actually, I’m quite pleased that I’ve forgotten what it is, because it neatly supports my first point – which is that none of these campaigns has anything much to do with the brands they’re allegedly advertising. These are, clearly, ads about travelling by tube, in which the advertisers and their products come a poor second at best.
My second point is that the enthusiasm of agencies for this approach is very odd, and as far as I can see pretty much unique to the Tube environment. I can’t remember any newspaper campaigns which are about reading newspapers – how hard it is to find the weather forecast, or how satisfying when you successfully fold the broadsheet you’re reading in a confined space. I can’t remember any cinema campaigns – well, actually, maybe I can remember one or two – about being in the cinema, and how irritating it is to be surrounded by people talking and eating, or why it is that popcorn smells like vomit. And so on and so on.
It seems to be just the Tube that brings out these medium-related borrowed-interest campaigns in the creative teams responsible. And I wish they’d stop – I don’t think it’s doing anyone any good at all.