Not Looking Heroic Here Folks...
We have grown used to a basic credo of advertising that posits brand-as-hero is the point of the exercise. Mr. Clean saves the day. Problem, yes? Solution? Right here. National car rental speeds impatient and attitudinal road warriors through the process and quickly on the road. Swiffer solves that pesky pet hair issue. Cialis, well, you get the drift. We frame the issue and serve up the answer. Technologically savvy kid living at home with his parents? No worries. GE to the rescue.
Recently, however, there seems to be a curious shift taking place: Brand as not exactly anti-hero, but certainly Brand as comic relief buffoon. The court jester of the marketing realm.
Exhibit A: The most recent Jet campaign. The fictional representation of the Brand’s ‘price shrinking’ tool goes haywire and starts shrinking ears, shirts and heads. Hmm. Is this tool a good thing? A dangerous thing? Or just a momentarily funny thing to make us watch instead of text?
Exhibit B: Flo, the Progressive Insurance pitchwoman, stands guard in a client’s yard, protecting home and property from what? Home delivery of the newspaper? Huh? How is this a good thing? (The New York Times and paying subscribers would say ‘nope, don’t do that’ pretty forcefully, I suspect.) Is the Brand really going to save us from bird droppings on our cars or are we just meant to chortle briefly or casually observe that success has gone to Flo’s waistline?
It begins to feel like Brand as desperate stand-up comedian trying to stand out in a dark and dingy club, silhouetted against a backdrop of booze, boos and bored viewers. The routine doesn’t make much sense, but maybe there’s a giggle to be found. No matter what the Brand has to do to get it. Flop sweat much?