It's five years since Boots gave us a masterclass in retail marketing with its 'Here come the girls' Christmas ad. Sassy, funny and confident enough not to take itself too seriously, it knew its audience. In addition, it showed off tons of product. It was an absolute winner.
Fast-forward to now, and what's changed? Well, the bloodbath on the high street provides us with a fascinating marketing spectator sport in separating the retail heroes from the retail zeros.
In one corner, there's the innovative glitterati such as Sainsbury's, Waitrose and M&S, which recognise that value has shifted from chavvy to savvy, and are taking market share by the scruff of the neck, marrying a quality promise of 'Eat well for less' with a memorable initiative such as 'Feed your family for a fiver'.
In the other corner, there's the panickers such as Tesco which are scurrying to the nearest 'Price Drop' campaign. Without fresh insight to reframe everyday value, 'Every little helps' feels smaller by the day.
Then there's the plodders, the businesses that just get on with doing what they do, with little fuss. This seems to be where Boots has ended up. Still flogging '3 for 2', under a generic promise of 'feel good'. There's no digital thingumajigs, no radical Shoreditch social-media Groupon-style deals, no inspiring community project such as Levi's Braddock Town, no trailblazing second-screen interactive wotsit. Yaaaaaawn.
Instead, we have marketing that aims to keep on keeping it simple. Thirty seconds of good old-fashioned telly: check. 'Here come the girls' music to boost branding: check. '3 for 2' promotion: check. So far, so predictable.
What raises this ad above the forgettable is strategic and creative crafting that adds executional charm. Somewhere in the mix there's a neat insight linked to the spring being a time for trying out new stuff. So we see one girlfriend wait for the other as she 'comes out of hibernation'. It may not be extraordinary, but what it lacks in edgy ambition it makes up for in humanity: it's confident, fun, tongue-in-check and true to its target.
It's probably just about enough to keep its customers coming through the door, buying a bit of product and feeling good about Boots.
Sometimes keeping things simple is simply good enough.
There's lots to like here at a craft level. However, Boots does feel like it's in danger of becoming formulaic. Overall, a bit of a missed opportunity.
|Adwatch (Mar 28): Top 20 recall TV ads|
|2||(11=)||Tesco||The Red Brick Road/
|5||(–)||Argos||CHI & Partners/Mindshare||37|
|8||(8=)||Sky TV||Brothers & Sisters/
|11||(-)||Dettol||Euro RSCG Worldwide/
|Grabarz + Partner/
|13=||(21=)||The Sun on
|CHI & Partners/
|15||(-)||Jacamo||The Gate Films/Carat||24|
|16=||(10)||KFC||Bartle Bogle Heagarty/
|Webwatch (Mar 21): Top 20 recall online ads|
|3||-8||Virgin Media||DDB London/Fifty6||23|
|4||-1||Sky TV||Brothers & Sisters/
|5=||(–)||T-Mobile||Saatchi & Saatchi/MEC||18|
|7=||(–)||Vodafone||TBG Digital/TBG Digital||17|
|11||(-)||Halifax||Adam & Eve/MEC||14|
|12||(-)||Walkers||AMV BBDO/OMD UK||9|
|14=||(-)||Natwest||Glue Isobar/ Zenith
|Wieden & Kennedy