debating the merits of the life water campaign

Last week I expressed my disapproval of the concept-less Life Water spot created by Arnell…and a commenter wrote in to disagree, saying “I am sure [it] has increased the revenue and buzz for the brand name. So if you look up the definition of advertising it has done the job and continues to do so.”

Not to be that guy, but I think that you mean that it has achieved the objective of advertising, not lived up to the definition of it.

But I digress…because our commenter goes on to say “maybe you should watch it again and also check the stock market as Pepsi is destroying coke one day at a time thanks to Arnell’s ad campaign.”

The commenter brings up a good issue…just what is good advertising? It is the kind of creative-driven work that wins awards and worms its way into pop culture? Or is it the more prosaic work that gets results.

Not to ruin it, of course, but it is a mixture of both.

But why isn’t it the work that sells things that gets all the accolades? Those Head-On spots sure move product (albeit from a small base), and according to the commenter (if you ignore things like distribution, on-trend product, competitive pricing and retailer sell-in strategy) so do the Life Water spots. They are selling crap. So why aren’t they great ads?

Part of it is that you know great work when you see it.

And a model in a bathing suit dancing to music played by some animated geckos just isn’t great work. A great ad needs a concept and if I have to explain why, you’re just not going to get it.

The other part is that an ad campaign like Life Water’s isn’t a direct response effort aimed only at immediate short-term sales. It should be doing that yes, and it should be raising awareness of the brand and product and it should be building a pipeline of future sales by branding, etc and so on.

The final part of why ad campaigns have to do more than just sell in the short term to be great is because there are so many other things that go into immediate sales – things like distribution, on-trend product, competitive pricing, retailing sell-in strategy and others.

That is not to smirk at actually selling things but rather to explain why creativity and a concept are necessary additions to a great ad (as much as hitting the ad’s objectives are)…you can’t just greatness just by the brand’s stock price.


4 responses to “debating the merits of the life water campaign

  1. As a newbie in the ad world, this is my question…what are the account executives and creative departments telling LifeWater when they pitched that campaign? “We’ve done our research and sure enough people who like Geckos buy more water, so we wanted to throw some of them into the spot.” I just don’t know how the client buys the BS. Can you do a post on this?!

  2. Laura, in time you’ll discover that most bad advertising is the fault of the client, not the agency. (In this case, I don’t know though.) It’s the famous saying that “A client gets the advertising they deserve.”

    To the point of the post though… what would you rather have – short-term sales or long-term, emotionally engaged customers?

    Would you rather be Dell that only competes on price or Apple?

    Would you rather be a Ginsu Knife that people buy once and never think about your brand again, or would you rather be a brand like Nike that people are loyal to their entire lives?

    I’m not saying the quick, easy and dirty doesn’t sell. It does. Just look at DM. But things like HeadOn only approach advertising from a rational perspective. To be truly great advertising for the long-term, you need to lead with the emotional.

  3. It doesn’t appeal to me personally, but i don’t think the ad is bad. And i think it does have a clear concept and strategy.

    The gecko has been on SoBe products since they first came out. SoBe stands for South Beach, a place where I happen to live. And I assure you there are multitudes of bikini-clad hotties and speedo-sporting gents who may not be the brightest bulbs in the lamp, but they take their beach and dance culture very seriously. They probably think the dancing geckos are hilarious. And hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to South Beach (SoBe) aspiring for a taste of that lifestyle.

    Again, I don’t believe its a good ad. But there is an idea behind it.

  4. yeah when they talk about creativity in ads i’m really at a loss for words; especially the superbowl ads of recent years. I would have a drop of the life water injected in to some lizard embryo by some godlike being and over many years of evolution, the beautifull model walks out(does that make sense, i’m high on nyquil).

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