Tag Archives: sainsbury’s

Top 5 current TV ad soundtracks

There are a glut of great TV ads on air in the UK at present.

The following list is my personal selection of ads truly enhanced by their soundtracks.

In the best Miss World fashion, they are, in reverse order:

Number 5 – Asda – Gavin the Gnome

I believe the marketing press about this ad – this is a real ‘marmite’ of a TV commercial, I accept that it will be enjoyed or will irritate in equal measure.

It’s an ad poking fun at Sainsbury’s and Tesco (in the form of gnomes!) and how ASDA go one better – they beat prices not match them.

The Guardian did a review of this recently and expressed disappointment (I’m being nice).

I think they missed the point. This ad is not about acquisition of new customers, this is a reinforcer and Shaggy and Mr Boombastic meet that criteria nicely I think. The current ASDA shopper is likely, more than likely I think, to enjoy this, and have a laugh rather than reject it as a bit strange… ok I do accept a gnome called Gavin in a Mankini is actually strange .. but I think it’s a great ad that neatly differentiates ASDA with its existing customers.

Good on ASDA for being brave and not telling me their bread and bacon is cheaper now than it used to be.



Number 4 – IKEA Beds


This is a gorgeous ad.  Fact.

It’s a bit weird, but I like weird, the voiceover is matched perfectly to a soundtrack that one minute in starts to pump up the volume and the drama. The voiceover is wonderfully coordinated with this soundtrack – it’s a rousing poetic masterpiece … I give you the intro;

“As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces …”

Love it ! Well done IKEA, oh and by the way the CGI is truly stunning too.


Number 3 – Avis


“Lets go fly a kite” from Mary Poppins is the soundtrack and it works so well with this fabulously shot monochrome epic.

No words in the ad, but the use of a car remote unlocking cars around the world with the characteristic ‘blip blip’ is all the voiceover needed to support the proposition of ‘Unlock the world’.

Great art direction, and a quirky, unexpected soundtrack that softens the stark, high contrast, black and white photography … I am a little bit in love with it ! i have a feeling the ‘Musical Theatre’ fans in my family will be surprised and shocked by such an admission, after all it is not Jazz is it?


Number 2 – National Express

A lovely ad for the Instagram generation, just look at those 70s muted tones so redolent of Kodachrome and Ferraniacolour.  Silver Lady by David Soul drives (sorry, bad pun) us along on the journey very confidently.

Just a lovely lovely ad.

The words match the brand essence (ok I know the buses are actually white). I am not a big fan of David Soul but using him as the visual narrator as well as his soundtrack, and using him as at 2014 is bordering on genius as it lends much greater credibility and realism, which you feel must support the brand essence here.

A really lovely feeling ad, that brings home the growing anticipation, inherent in travel, of arrival at home and with loved ones.

A nostalgic treat !


Number 1 – Southern Comfort

This is another ad reliant, like Avis, on soundtrack and visuals. I had to check out the song … It’s “Love me” by The Phantom. A 1958 track.

I adore the coherency (sic) of the opening lines and the idea of sipping a Southern Comfort and lemonade (heavy on the ice please !!).

“Aahh, uhh, let’s go! Uhh
Press your lips to mine”

Then straight into “I can’t wait”.

Awesome choice of track, simple as!

The urgency and driving soundtrack is married to a great piece of art direction I think, like National Express, there is a great Instagram feel about the colours and the style is achingly cool with a slice of humour thrown in to boot.

This is so good I downloaded the track !


There you go … that’s my current top 5 soundtrack enhanced UK TV ads … any alternatives? let me know in the usual way!

14 July 2014


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Random acts of kindness


Loyalty cards used to be such simple things – collect masses of points, get irritated when points mean less than you thought (you know who you are Co-op & Sainsbury’s), and cause burst seams in purses and wallets. Some you could trust to do a great job, flexibly, for example the Boots Card, some you just knew were cynical data gathering ploys – if in doubt read “Scoring points”and cases studies on Tesco Clubcard and Dunn Humbys influence.  Sainsbury’s and Nectar have always had a broader reach – but I never know if what I am collecting is valuable as the store has stopped mentioning them at checkout & my local BP garage has an unusually high staff turnover. 

But let’s start with a few interesting stats;

– Loyalty cards abound in the UK, 96% of the uk population own at least one
– 8m of us are using them less frequently – that’s about 12.5% of the uk population
– 21% would prefer them on our smart phones
– What’s more 1 in 3 of say we derive no value from them – these illuminating stats are from WorldPay, who conducted a survey just over a year ago.

So is this trend continuing?  It looks like it to me, even though the typical shopper will still use their loyalty cards eight times a month, they will now only save an average of £98.04 annually, down from £100.32 in 2012, so in the continuing austere climate this is a worthwhile contribution to household bills but it is shrinking. 

But the reality is that a £2.28 reduction is likely to be immaterial in the overall scheme of things.  So I wonder if it is the ‘data’ effect that is leading us to challenge the use of loyalty cards … as a marketer the holy grail for me is being able to personalise communications to allow a true 1-2-1 conversation. But it carries risk – ‘Big Data’ scare stories are increasingly common and I think Consumers are smarter than they used to be – they may be happy to trade data for discounts, but it looks increasing like a blunt tool and one that does nothing for the customer experience or the brand health. 

But what does that really mean? It’s easy for me to just write the words. Ok, an example, a real one, imagine it’s your Saturday tea time & you are watching the X-Factor and having a disagreement with your other half. It happens, trust me, not to me you understand, but I hear that it does.  Now imagine your tv or digital box has a built in microphone & picks up that argument. Then imagine the value to an advertiser, say Relate or a marriage guidance counsellor, of that insight. Ads could be streamed direct to that tv for the remainder of the show. Far fetched I hear you cry, not a bit of it, this example was the subject of a US patent application in 2013 (ok it was for American Idol!) by one of the telecoms players. (source

At Advertising Week Europe in March, Bartle Bogle Hegarty founder Sir John Hegarty complained of a “creative deficit” in marketing caused by an over-reliance on new technology, while also warning that consumers are growing suspicious of “Orwellian” data collection practices. A few weeks earlier, “Now” creative partner John Townshend, had argued – at an event run by TV marketing body Thinkbox – that marketers are not giving agencies the freedom necessary to generate ideas, the implicit criticism being an over reliance on clever data. 

On a simpler level a past neighbour of mine, knowing my job, button-holed me after receiving a personalised motor insurance quote detailing his car type and registration from a company he had never insured with – I kept my “nice work” thought to myself though! 

But that’s only a hypothesis. The most interesting response I think to both the conundrum of data collection, knowingly, and the over abundance of loyalty cards seems to be the growth of random acts of kindness – not by chance either, they truly enhance word of mouth marketing by really enhancing the customer experience. 

Eschewing the collection of points, John Lewis and Jamie’s Italian are just two brands taking this approach and both are doing it really well. I base this on how many of my friends I have repeated these experiences too and first hand experiences. 

John Lewis and Waitrose, so long the outliers in the loyalty game – relying on great service and great advertising, but, not collecting purchase data and habits must have been hurting them every day in trying to grow value from customers when it did not even know if they were one offs or regular shoppers.  The ‘My’ card is very nice, chunky and solid feeling with a nice key line colour on the edge – stand out in the wallet is thereby assured. It’s simple premise – use it and get free cakes and coffee – genius – who doesn’t like a free cake and frothy coffee?  The benefit to John Lewis of all that data and word of mouth is incalculable. 

Jamie’s good old fashioned ‘Gold Card’ is anything but … pitched with a degree of exclusivity and luxury that really helps. It’s actively promoted by the great staff in Jamie’s – the Norwich staff recognised us and told us about it in fact. What does it get me? Free tasters each time I have a main course, the feedback from which will help future menu direction I imagine. Birthday treats and invites to exclusive events – where no doubt I will eat and drink and spend … All whilst Jamie learns if I like squid or chicken. It’s a glorious feeling as the free tasters are delivered. You feel special – you know other people, not in the know, are looking on jealously. 

I already like these brands so I guess I am biased but they are doing the same job as the Nectar card et al probably for a different target audience I grant you, but I think the not so random acts of kindness they bring are more sustainable, broader in their brand impact and no doubt much cheaper than the alternatives used so far.  Right I’m off for a cake in John Lewis now … See you next time.

09 Dec 2013



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Art or Advertising?

I have always assumed that advertising would have a long and positive association with art, but until recently I never really thought about this beyond the natural assumption that ‘creative types’ must be artists by default.  I have, after all, seen some beautifully drawn/painted ‘scamps’ in my time as a client-side marketer.

I spent time in Sheffield recently at the rather quaint Graves Art Gallery.  A council run art gallery with strange opening times and those wonderful polished wooden floors you only get in council run art galleries and museums. Parquet flooring supreme!  I am only gently teasing, it, like Sheffield as a city, often surprises and the recent Leonard Beaumont exhibition was quite engrossing.

What has this got to do with advertising and marketing I hear you ask?  Well my favourite book of 2012 (apart from a rather brilliant read on my favourite building – the concrete UEA in Norwich) was a rather scholarly read on the history of Sainsbury’s packaging (Own Label: Sainsbury’s Design Studio by Trunk & King).  The connection is that Leonard Beaumont, apart from being a fine print maker, was responsible for a large part of Sainsbury’s enduring brand identity.

Beaumont was born in Sheffield in 1891 so he witnessed a sea change in advertising and design in his long life, he passed away in 1986.  At 16 he had his first job in art/advertising – working in the art department at The Sheffield Daily Telegraph.  He served in WW1 but by the 1920s and through the 1930s he began to create some etchings and dry points that attracted the attention of the Royal Academy.  It is his Linocuts I really like from the same period.  They show a close affinity with Vorticism and the quality of the linocuts on display were exceptional, sharp and clean with punches of vibrant colour.  Unexpectedly, really interesting.

Grinders, 1932 (linocut) By Leonard Beaumont

Grinders, 1932 (linocut) By Leonard Beaumont

I love finding new work or new artists like this – I spent nearly two hours in what was a shortish exhibition.  A great show.

To hell with tin hats (1929) Linocut by LeonardBeaumont

To hell with tin hats (1929) Linocut by LeonardBeaumont

His work for Sainsbury’s from the 1950s and beyond was part of what must have been a brilliant era for packaging – where cardboard dominated and required design to work hard compared today’s modern world of ‘see through’ packaging.  His use of a single clean font – Albertus – hung everything together alongside muted colours and simple design. Quite beautiful work in my opinion.

Egg Box 1955 Sainsbury's designed by Leonard Beaumont

Egg Box 1955 Sainsbury’s designed by Leonard Beaumont

It prompted me to think about the work of other artists, perhaps better known, in marketing/advertising.  The list below was actually quite hard to come up with (let me know if I have missed any obvious ones !) …

Cameos/Brand spokespersons

  • David Bailey in the Olympus TV Ads
  • Andy Warhol in the Polaroid TV Ads
  • Salvador Dali in Alka seltzer TV Ads

Packaging design

  • Leonard Beaumont – Sainsbury’s
  • Sol le Witt – Nina Ricci

Creative Directors

  • Damien Hurst – TNT movies
  • Norman Rockwell in the US for Jello and Orange Crush
  • David La Chappelle directed Ads for Sky TVs Mad Dogs series
  • Terry Gilliam (the Python who is an illustrator and cartoonist) directed ads for MTV
  • Chris Cunningham was an artist on Judge Dredd comics before becoming a respected video artist and then directed ads for Orange and Gucci

It’s a shorter list than I expected.  In fact the most obvious current correlation of artists to advertising is diametrically opposed to their involvement as positive creators:

Banksy has been vocal in his opposition to the whole concept of advertising, and vocal means visual art in his case.

Banksy Cow !

Banksy Cow !

Fischelli and Weiss briefly threatened to sue Honda for plagiarism over the ‘Cog’ advert, which may have been inspired by their installation “The ways things go”.  No action was ever taken.

Andy Warhol using advertising as art. Brillo, Campbell’s Soup etc. to debunk the myth of creativity – one of many theories I would point out!

Jake and Dinos Chapman’s long-standing obsession with ridiculing capitalism, and their continued use of MacDonald’s and other brands to illustrate this.

mcd jake and dinos

So while I can easily find lots of examples of Artists poking hard at advertising with a stick at the moment, this represents a swing from the 50s, 60s and 70s when the opposite was probably more common.  An interesting societal and cultural shift I think.  I will leave the last word to Banksy …

Banksy on Advertising

Banksy on Advertising


09 March 2013

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The Battle for Xmas No.1 !

Not so many years ago there was very little written in the media about TV advertising but an awful lot about the challengers for the Xmas number 1 in the hit parade (don’t you just love that name!).  I think that has changed and the most interesting debates are now being had about which TV ad will ‘win’ this year.

Now I go back a bit, so my early recollections are of Wizard and Slade battling it out in 1973, at the time that was fairly big news to 12 yr old me.  Were you a “Merry Xmas Everybody” fan or did you hanker after “I wish it could be Christmas everyday”?  I’m glad Slade won out personally.

There followed a number of media fueled fights for No1;  In 1984 Wham took on Band Aid (and the same songs/artists battled it out the following year too).  Novelty acts like Mr Blobby have taken on established artists like Take That, and Cliff Richard has had many a battle for No1 at Xmas – remember Millennium Prayer vs Westlife in 1999?

But today … in a connected social media world .. What are we discussing? “Do you like the new John Lewis ad?” (I don’t as it happens – but creative views are always subjective … just like music I guess).  A real cultural shift.

Lets look at a few;


These are a little worthy – trying quite hard to resonate: I would put M&S “no celebrity” ad this year into this camp.  The Waitrose ad with Heston and Delia very much lives here … the location even suggesting Cathedral like proportions and atmosphere.

These brands are trying to show they are thinking about ‘little old us’ and the current economic climate … does it work?  Time will tell, and you will vote with your feet and pennies just like I will.   This is the overwhelming theme this year.


A worthy mention to the evergreen Coke ad “Holidays are coming” it’s now so old it gets cut through due to its 4:3 ratio on-screen … but subliminally are they also trying to tie into the emotional resonance of  “well I’m not paying for their advertising on every can am I”  I wonder.  Great ad though and brilliant audio cut through in a world where we type as we view!


ALDI go into this camp as they are the current Supermarket of the year and their advertising is scooping awards.  Its likeable advertising .. Like being the key theme … it demonstrates cheapness in a likeable and engaging way.  That is at the heart of its proposition and its advertising strategy.  They are doing it brilliantly well in my opinion.  My favourite for winning the battle for return on marketing investment, and the Xmas campaign wins for me because it is so consistent with their messaging for the other 11 months of the year.

Compare it to Matalan who are trying to make us LOVE them this Xmas ! My view : you need to be liked first !



Boots ran a series of great ads over the years at Xmas that arguably started the trend for running around in ads if nothing else (now being used in a sub Captain Scarlet ‘stylee’ by Very.co.uk – the chutes remind me of the Angel Interceptors and Peter Gordeno in UFO every time I see it – really awful in my view, the ad that is, not the sci-fi). But 2012 sees a woeful strap-line that I really struggle with “Let’s feel good” – at the very least ‘here come the girls’ cut through with heavy audio cues.  I think the TV ad works, though I have reservations on the strap-line.


Littlewoods is another ad I think which will struggle.  Firstly I recognise her, but I am confused now with which brand Mylene Klass is the face of … this year.  My view here is that the heavy use of ‘interest free low weekly payments’ is a little too clumsy to be truly effective, but it’s that economic climate theme again.

In terms of ASDA .. well accusations of sexism & Mumsnet campaigns mean I think this will not be deemed a triumph for the brand this Xmas


Well its clear to see that John Lewis are going for the tactic of schmaltz and making us cry again .. Doesn’t work for me … but it resonates with middle England.  Don’t misunderstand me either .. I love Mr Lewis and his business model ! But it looks like the advertising equivalent of 2 become 1 by the Spice Girls, the Xmas number 1 in 1996 I might add.

It’s an interesting battle for our affections this year but personally I think the lack of glam rock longevity demonstrated by Slade and Wizard, the true emotional resonance of a Band Aid single or the musical joy of Wham is singularly missing.

With an honorable exception … I think Sainsbury’s use of  music combined with an ad style consistent with the rest of their campaigns, in that it’s homely and ‘nice’ and friendly, rather like Aldi, is a successful one – it does not try too hard but in doing so balances emotion and realism in a way that is easy to associate with.  They get my vote for this year !


let me know if you agree or not …


22 November 2012

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