Effective ads: some clients get it, some clients don’t

I don’t often single out individual ads for comment but a couple have been pinging around in my head and I finally found enough of a link – ok it’s tenuous –  to merit lumping them together in a post.

First up is a pair of ads that sit next to each other in my local train station. They push similar propositions – holidaying on islands. Take a quick look at the ads, forgiving the mobile phone quality shots.

The first fails miserably to the extent that one assumes the client’s brother-in-law must have created it. Norfolk Island is by all accounts a very sellable destination, certainly one which I wanted to visit…until  I saw this ad which completely dampened my positive predisposition.


OK, there’s more to Norfolk Island…than what? And if there’s more, can you perhaps tell me about it?

Norfolk Island Tourism General Manager, Glen Buffett described his offering thus:  “a fascinating perspective on natural beauty, history and culture”. Well he sure failed to deliver on that promise in his campaign featuring poor photography in a bland, featureless and utterly generic location which tells you precisely nothing about the product. Hey, buddy, your ad’s running in Sydney…we have beaches here ya know, we don’t need an expensive flight to Norfolk Island for that!  The ad then confounds the visual errors by confusing you with multiple copylines and needlessly spelled out full social media url’s. Apparently Norfolk Island is bust…this poor effort wont help.

And then there’s this for NZ’s Bay of Islands. Also a place I’d like to visit. And now I’m determined to. Beautiful headline, beautiful shot (you’ll have to take my word for it). It’s full of intrigue…I just wanna poke into all those bays and explore all those little islands. And new Zealand’s national brand 100% Pure  provides a brilliant umbrella. It’s so simply and it simply works…are you listening Norfolk Island?


Interestingly Norfolk Island’s ad agency won a 2010 Award for Marketing Effectiveness for its branding work for Norfolk Island. One wonders what’s gone wrong subsequently.

So much for tourism, and onto my tenuous link in the form of a totally unrelated campaign that demonstrates another way in which advertising can add value – humour.

And in this case it’s an ad that draws on a subject with even more comedic potential than the poor mother-in-law: advertising itself. By some miracle, ads that make fun of advertising are almost routinely effective.  But for an ad to make fun of its own category and in doing so to break its own category rules, surely takes a client with some courage. The result is undeniably effective – over 700,000 viral shares of this piece. Enjoy this one.


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