Cow & Gate: Come on Eileen- soundtracked ad is lovely and amusing, but leaves the viewer unchanged

Cow & Gate babies and toddlers display their musical talent in the ad
Cow & Gate babies and toddlers display their musical talent in the ad

I love it when a brand decides to stand for something bigger, that people care about. I love ambition. The flip side to this is that the brand will then have to deliver.

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They’ll have to have a point of view, and preferably one that’s not a platitude. They’ll have to add something to the area they chose to live in: an angle, some edge, a new perspective. And to do that they’ll have to be brave.

The Cow & Gate spot is a lovely ad. The kids are lovely, their performance is lovely, the scenes are lovely. The ad is clean too, quite a rare thing these days. I’m sure it’ll get people smiling. The line at the end tells me to feed my kids’ personality. Hmmm. That’s interesting. In fact, that’s really interesting. Such a big thing for a brand to stand next to: the blooming of a person’s personality. Wow.

Then I watched it again. And I felt they got themselves a Ferrari just to cross the road. That line begs them to be braver. What point will you make to inspire me to feed my kids’ personality? I have two daughters, I’m your target. I’m too busy and struggle to be a better parent, I’m your target. I love ads with focus and a single message, I’m your target. I was dying to love it. But I didn’t.

My main complaint is that the ad left me just as it found me. It didn’t inspire me to behave differently, it didn’t alter my view on the subject. So what did the ad do? It sure amused me and gave me a pleasant one minute — and then I got on with my life, the ad and its message gone from my mind.

Brand ads should aim higher than that. Making you warm isn’t just enough. Great brand ads make you hot, they make you cry. They make you change your point of view, and take action. If you decide to be ambitious, be ambitious. Apple’s ‘Here’s to the crazy ones’ ad doesn’t merely show you stuff, it makes a case of how they think life should be lived: it rejects one thing in favour of another. Honda’s ‘Grrrr’ wasn’t just eye candy. It was making a fine point about HATE. And it did hate with a smile. adidas’ defence of ‘Impossible is Nothing’ was making you defy your own impossible, instead of just having you passively look at beautiful shots. There’s a fantastic Disney ad that shows you how big a role magic plays in your life and how Disney owns that magic. It made me love what Disney does. I’m talking about love, not warmth.

The Cow & Gate ad is a clean one, let’s repeat that. It has a single-minded proposition, and for that I praise them. But it doesn’t tell or show why I should do what they ask me to do. If it avoids that it’s not a brave ad. By brave I don’t mean controversial or edgy. By brave I mean what the Cambridge Dictionary says brave means: ‘showing no fear of difficult things.

Brand strategy verdict: 9 out of 10 (or 5 out of 10...)

Verdict - If the target was Facebook likes and Youtube views, it’s a 9. If the ambition was to make a memorable point about nurturing your kids’ personality, it’s a 5.

Adwatch (Nov 14) Top 20 recall: Cow&Gate
Latest Nov-07 Brand Agency/
TV Buyer
rank       %
1 (–) British Gas  CHI&Partners/
2 (1=) Ocean Spray  Arnold Worldwide/
3 (5=) Argos  CHI&Partners/
4 (–) Aunt Bessie's  VCCP/Vizeum 41
5 (–) Dyson Digital
In-house/PHD 39
6 (–) Aldi  McCann Erickson
McCann Manchester
7 (–) McDonald's  Leo Burnett/OMD UK 36
8 (–) Moneysuper
Mother/MediaCom 35
9 (–) Harveys  HMDG/MediaVest 33
10 (–) Autoglass  Tellyville/Starcom 31
11= (–) Homebase  Leo Burnett/
11= (–) Disneyland Paris  BETC London/
13 (–) Burger King  CHI&Partners/
14= (–) Cow & Gate  BETC London/MEC 28
14= -9 Kellogg's
Crunchy Nut
Leo Burnett/Carat 28
16= (–) Currys/PC World  M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media
16= (-) Next  In-house/MEC 26
18 (–) Jackpot
Isobel/Maxus 25
19= (–) Iceland  Tom Reddy
19= (–) Network Rail  M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media


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