Kim Penstone

Ad campaigns worthy of praise

2005-02-01 13:46
<b>The Evian water ad</b>

The Evian water ad

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The advertising world is often accused of being self-centric, inward-focused and completely out of touch with the rest of humanity.

It's also accused of being self-serving and, with the vast number of awards on offer, more interested in creating art-vertising than advertising.

Admittedly, much as I love working on the periphery of this industry, I sometimes can't help but agree.

(I said "sometimes". More often, to which anyone who knows me will attest, I'm the great defender of the crazy world we call advertising.)

Which is why I can't help but smile about two recent pieces of communication that crossed my desktop.

The Clear Channel Independent ad

The first is from Clear Channel Independent, announcing the launch of a global creative challenge to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/Aids.

It's a joint venture, with Unicef, and is open to creative teams across the world.

Winners receive $5 000 - about R30 100 - and, more importantly, the winning work will be displayed on Clear Channel billboards and street furniture panels in 50 countries, across five continents, thereby helping to publicise the plight of this global battle on a global scale.

The second is a little closer to home, from a Cape-based ad agency called Berry Bush BBDO.

The Evian ad

Recognising that the infamous Cape apathy (yup, I'm a Gautie!) was thwarting the city's attempt to institute water restrictions, the agency decided to use the power of advertising (and a damn fine idea) to grab attention and, hopefully, change residents' water wasting ways.

Last week, agency staff took to Cape Town's streets armed with what appeared to be ordinary bottles of Evian.

They handed them out to bemused motorists at clogged intersections who, on closer inspection of the bottles, realised that they were anything but ordinary.

Instead of reading Evian, the labels read "Naïve" (Evian spelt backwards). The small print below read thus: 'Deep in a valley of ignorance a fresh wellspring of apathy arises. One thing is crystal clear: The Western Cape doesn't have enough water. You Can Help.'

Other copy provides facts and figures on just how rainfall in 2004/5 stacks up against previous years, and provides tips for wise water use.

Both, although on entirely different scales, are admirable efforts. And while it's true that both can be claimed to be self-serving (publicity stunts that use up unsold inventory, potentially-award winning stuff from someone who read the Evian label through the bottle and had a 'Eureka' moment), it's equally true that I simply don't care. Because, ultimately, both give more than they receive.

The same can be said of any pro-bono account, accounts that ad agencies regularly take on board (for free and gratis) in the hopes of creating breath-catching, award-winning work.

So, they win an award or two. Who cares? More importantly, they communicate needs, raise awareness and much-needed funds for organizations and causes that couldn't otherwise afford it.

It's what those in marketing call a win-win situation. And I, for one, am all for it.

  • Kim Penstone is in awe of those people who spend their lives dedicated to causes such as Unicef. She's sorry to admit that this column is the extent of her shabby offering.

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