Adwatch (June 20) Top 20 recall: Pets at Home

Strategy behind relaunch ad is sound, but the creative work somewhat lets it down

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Billy Faithfull, creative director, WCRS

My first Adwatch.

I love watching ads. Don't we all? No, we don't. People hate watching ads. They actively avoid it. I've keenly observed commuters pinching together double-page spreads in magazines, turning both pages together to avoid advertisers' precious messages. So, if people don't like watching ads, how can you make them?

There are too many rules and few easy wins. Create emotionally engaging advertising, make your insights insightful, yadda yadda yadda. However, none is quite so powerful as the old 'put a dog in it'.

Need proof? Consider that the Andrex puppy and Churchill the dog have a combined total of almost 500,000 'likes' on Facebook. I know both spokesdogs personally (no, you can't meet them), and you wouldn't believe how many people care about them so much that they knit them jumpers in the winter and wish them 'nighty-night', nightly.

So creative types (you know who you are) often try to convince me that a cuddly creature is a talisman for increased profit and a bulging share price; but imagine a brief for a campaign where 'put a dog in it' was the start point. Or rather, 'put three dogs in it, two cats, a lizard, a fish, a cockerel, a frog, a parrot, a rabbit and a guinea pig'.

Wouldn't that be the most powerful advertising ever made? Couldn't that advertising be so popular, so watchable, so darn cute, that it acquires artificial intelligence and we all vote for it to become prime minister?

Unfortunately not. Enter Pets At Home, number seven in Adwatch this week, with its beautifully shot, well-thought-through relaunch, in which (rather condescendingly) we're told what the idea is at the beginning of the ad as well as the end. 'Ninety two per cent of our staff have pets at home', says the voiceover, which is why you are then shown a series of vignettes of these lovely creatures with their owners' names and job-titles in the DOGS (digital onscreen graphics).

I find it very hard to be objective about Pets At Home, mainly because it's got a 'widdle bunny wabbit' in it, but I can't help feeling that this could have been the most popular ad in the world ever, part IV. With the better part of a circus on set, couldn't there have been a little more magic?

Imagine if they all lived together. Couldn't they all be taught tricks? Why not do a 'bring your pets to work scheme', turn all the stores into impromptu petting zoos, and shoot the ads then? When I was eight, I would have held my breath till mum took me to meet a lizard.

Credit where it's due, though. This is nicely crafted, friendly advertising with a persuasive strategy. However, it's just a little bit boring, and for one moment, I'd like us all to dream of what could have been when a lizard, a guinea pig and a cockerel walked into a bar.

Brand strategy verdict: 5 out of 10

Solid strategy mildly let down by slightly average creative work. Honestly, it's almost as if 'LOLcats' never happened (Google it).

Adwatch: Top 20 recall (20 June)
Latest Jun-13 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Ocean Spray  Arnold Worldwide/
2 (–) Pedigree  TBWA\Chiat\Day
, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/
3 (–) Burger King  CHI&Partners/Initiative 43
4 -4 Aldi  McCann Erickson Manchester/
Universal McCann Manchester
5= (–) Aviva  Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/
5= (–) Cancer Research
The Good Agency/
7 (–) Pets at Home  Krow/MEC 40
8 (–) Lloyds TSB  RKCR Y&R/MEC 37
9 (–) Subway  McCann Erickson/
MediaCom Scotland
10 (–) Hovis  Dare/Starcom 32
11= (–) Tesco  The Red Brick Road/
11= (–) Comfort  Ogilvy & Mather/
13 (–) Corsodyl  Grey London/
14= (–) Dettol  Euro RSCG London/
14= (–) Müller  VCCP/MediaCom 28
16= (–) DFS  Krow/MediaCom 27
16= (–) Pilgrims Choice  Karmarama/
18= (–) Marks &
Walker Media
18= (5=) McDonald's  Leo Burnett/
20 (14=) Sky  Brothers & Sisters/


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