Adwatch (April 4) ) top 20 recall: The Guardian

The Guardian's take on the 'three little pigs'
The Guardian's take on the 'three little pigs'

Newspaper's clever satirical ad uses story of the Three Little Pigs to make its point.

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I've read many fairy tales to my kids over the years. Favourites include classic and contemporary tales, from Jack and the Beanstalk to The Gruffalo. One recurring request was for the Three Little Pigs. This simple yet terrifying story of the wolf at the door always quickened pulses and often reduced the little 'uns into gibbering wrecks just before bed.

Fairy-tale-induced insomnia - just whose idea was it to make these tales so bloodthirsty? Anyway, for the most part, I attribute the children's sleeplessness to the fact that I modelled my 'Wolf' on Jack Nicholson's Jack Torrance character in The Shining as he approached the bathroom, axe in hand, manically informing his wife Wendy of his intention to 'Huff and puff', etc.

This was, of course, ill-advised on my part, but the truth remains that in most cases, fairy tales warm the heart for their ability both to delight and terrify.

The Guardian's first major brand positioning TV ad for 25 years uses the story of the Three Little Pigs to launch open journalism, its fresh editorial approach. Led by editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, 'open journalism' encourages a democratisation of the news. The idea is not new, especially as the growth of mobile and social technologies have transformed the delivery of news. This ad is The Guardian's attempt to jump into the middle of this space and claim it as its own.

Executed as a 'mockumentary', the ad cracks open the case of the Three Little Pigs as it might be covered by today's media, complete with the twists and turns of the story as it unfolds. It's a gripping farce that, despite its absurd content, gives a realistic view of the media today through a fast-paced montage of newspaper headlines, tweets, TV bulletins, mobile phone footage, social-media updates, the lot.

When I first saw the ad I was gripped, mostly in joyous disbelief, a big smile fixed to my face. I found it reminiscent of a Charlie Brooker drama with a nice nod to The Guardian's 'Points of View' ad from the 80s. It was the first ad I'd seen in a long time that made me sit up and watch right to the end. There's been some debate over whether the seriousness of the paper is compromised by the humorous plotline, but I don't think it has. The fact that it makes a serious point with fairy-tale characters works well; it is knowingly entertaining and nicely satirical.

Brand strategy verdict: 7.5 out of 10

Will this bring home the (ahem) bacon? Well it's all very Guardian and, therefore, it's difficult to know whether it will attract new readers or merely reconfirm believers. However, it may convince those sitting on the fence to move off it.

Adwatch - Top 20 recall
Latest Mar-28 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Direct Line  M&C Saatchi/MediaCom 62
2 (–)

Philadelphia –

Choccy Philly 

JWT London/PHD 52
3 (–) Yorkshire Tea 

Beattie McGuinness Bungay/

MediaCom North

4 (–) Dyson  In-house/PHD 35
5= (–) Virgin Media 

Fifty6, Bartle Bogle Hegarty/


5= (–) Uncle Ben's  CLM BBDO/ZenithOptimedia 32
7= (–) Persil 

Bartle Bogle Hegarty/


7= (–) eBay 

DDB Düsseldorf, DDB UK/


9 (15=) Currys/PC World  M&C Saatchi/Walker Media 29
10= (–) Bisto  McCann Erickson/Starcom 27
10= (–)  Wordley Production/MNC 27
10= (–) National Lottery 

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/


13= (–) Whiskas 

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/


13= -8 Sky TV  Digital & Direct/MediaCom 26
15= (13=) Homebase  Leo Burnett/Mindshare 24
15= (–) The Co-operative 

TBWA Manchester/

PHD Rocket

15= (–)

Kellogg's Rice Krispies

Rocky Road Bar 

Leo Burnett/Carat 24
18 (–) The Guardian 

Bartle Bogle Hegarty/


19= (–) Lynx Attract 

Bartle Bogle Hegarty/


19= (–)

Cancer Research UK 

The Good Agency/




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