Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum

Does the return of the Shake n' Vac campaign signal a lack of creativity?

Glade is to revive its carpet freshener product by remaking the brand's memorable 80s campaign with X Factor twins Jedward fronting the relaunch, alongside Jenny Logan, the ad's original star.

NO - Nick Canning, Marketing director, Iceland

As it happens, I have a personal affinity with this ad. Aside from the fact that my mother and I could often be found shaking and vac-ing along to the catchy theme tune, my father was part of the management team of Benton and Bowles, the agency that produced it.

This means that I have been a staunch defender of the Shake n' Vac ads over many years.

For a brand like Shake n' Vac to return to its most memorable ad makes sense. If there has been another advertising campaign for the brand since then, I can't remember it.

OK, you might not like it, but the latest campaign fulfills the first role of any advertising idea in that it is memorable. I applaud the move to resurrect a very strong brand property, and to do it in a modern way.

Brand managers are often too quick to move on to the next 'big idea' simply because it is new, but this ignores all the benefits of continuity, immediate brand recognition and appropriate use of marketing spend.

NO - Neil Henderson, Managing director, St Luke's

Received wisdom holds that there is a link between advertising's effectiveness and its likeability. However, there is one, strange, anomaly - if something is 'just bad enough', it can generate an effectiveness all of its own.

Hence, the image of a woman singing and dancing like a crazed loon, while removing stale odour from her carpets, has proved 'just bad enough' to remain in our collective consciousness from 30 years ago. The genius here, is to pinpoint the same sort of 'just bad enough' in Jedward, and make a piece of cultural history live again for a new generation.

Creativity is not always about creating something new. It can be about using the resources you have to engage audiences and get them talking.

When you have an iconic property like Shake n' Vac, the joy is in the re-invention. I've just seen Jedward 'shaking and vac-ing' in The Sun - and there's not many other odour-removal brands getting half-a-page in the country's biggest tabloid newspaper on the day before a general election.

NO - Martine Ainsworth-Wells, Marketing director, Visit London

I think quite the opposite is true - this decision is clever and potentially a bit risky, but that's the game that anyone who dances with nostalgia plays.

This is all about taking advantage of a scenario and great timing. If the Shake n' Vac woman had remained on our screens for another 20-odd years, we'd be sick of the sight of her by now.

The fact that she's being rejuvenated at a critical time in the 80s renaissance is no coincidence.

The Conservatives look likely to hold sway in a hung parliament. The last time that party's prime minister ruled the land was when the Shake n' Vac lady was dancing round her living room. What better time to reawake memories associated with the era - a time of high-top trainers, ra ra skirts, shoulder pads, Mini Metros and Miami Vice.

I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the first of many ad renaissances from that era. Can we have those great Heineken 'refreshes the parts other beers can't reach' ads back too, please?

NO - Charles Vallance, Founding partner, VCCP

In my experience, the world of advertising falls into two camps: those who like Harry Hill's TV Burp and those who don't.

Those who don't are the ones who tend to be more aesthetic, more metrosexual. More sophisticated.

Those who do are the ones who tend to be more mainstream, more suburban. Less sophisticated.

That said, they are also the ones who, if I were a client, I would trust to spend my advertising money, because they understand what people like.

Another thing I'd say about this last group is that they would give a resounding 'no' to the question.

So, to suggest that this 80s remake is emblematic of creative decline is misguided. Some bright spark at SC Johnson has recognised the value of this advertising property, given it a modern user-generated twist and, for a fraction of its original media budget, will derive tremendous value from it.

- The Marketing Society is the most influential network of senior marketers dedicated to inspiring bolder marketing leadership. www.marketing-society.org.uk


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