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Life imitates life

All of life is cut and paste - literally. After all, DNA is the greatest 'cut and paste' programme ever invented - and it invented itself! The same philosophy applies to advertising.

All of life is cut and paste - literally. After all, DNA is the greatest 'cut and paste' programme ever invented - and it invented itself! Yet, this basic mechanism has spawned the infinite diversity of life.

The same philosophy applies to advertising. Yet, here the art of cut and paste is to make it not look as such. It has to be done in a way that convinces everybody that you are a never-ending conveyor belt of new ideas. An endlessly restocked fridge to which the creatively starved may return for sustenance, again and again. A cauldron continuously fizzing, burping and crackling with fresh, fiery, tasty concepts.

I recall sitting in a brainstorming session for a client installing dedicated fridges for its product in supermarkets. A keen young creative suggested sticking footprints on the floor leading to the fridgesÖ and I remembered reading that prostitutes did the same thing in ancient Greece.

They would stud the soles of their sandals with nails to leave imprints in the sand saying follow me for a good time. It's clear that the two oldest professions have had a healthy symbiosis ever since the dawn of civilisation!

RISPERDAL - for schizophrenic psychosis

Visions of hell generally score pretty highly on the perceived originality scale. It's when you get upstairs that things get a bit repetitive. Admit it, Paradise Lost is much more fun than Paradise Regained. As far as literary enjoyment is concerned, I'd far rather spend an eternity in Dante's Inferno than in his Paradiso.

I didn't know about Risperdal when I saw the campaign, and the tagline because relapses are a living nightmare could apply to lots of things. It is a great credit to the campaign, therefore, that I immediately guessed the indication. It deservedly won several PM Society Awards this year.

Cut and paste? As with any good campaign, the references are difficult to spot, but they are there nevertheless. For the Witches execution, read Macbeth. For the Chest Dwellers and Siren executions check out Homer. And for the Boiling Rain execution, you don't need to go back any further than the napalm images of Vietnam.

CYMBALTA - for major depressive episodes

Here is a completely different vision of hell; one in which an anonymous woman endures a long, dark, traumatic spell trapped in an underground car park in an unimaginative execution. The way out is barred by a pitiless writer, with a clichÈ-generating word processor set to 'endlessly regurgitate', who trips her up with a headline so long she could hang herself with it.

The other executions are no better and I can't see why anyone would go to the trouble of producing them. She comes out of an underground car park into the light; she comes out of a dark forest into the light; she comes out of a dark room into the light and always with the same clumsy headline hanging over her head.

I'd like to say that a bit of colour might help, or tidying up the headline, but it wouldn't. It's unremittingly bad. Rip it up and start again.

YENTREVE - for stress urinary incontinence

We were reviewing some ad concepts the other day and one of the ideas presented was a straight remake of a famous car ad. When I pointed this out, someone said: It doesn't matter - it did very well and it's a completely different category.

Well, all of life is cut and paste, so I agree in theory. However, the trouble is that if it's too obvious people will do their own cutting and pasting, and transfer the brand values and expectations of the other product onto yours.

That's what happens to me when I see this ad. It brings to mind the understated humour of the Volkswagen campaign some years back, and I find myself unconsciously looking for the joke. Unfortunately, there isn't one, just a clumsy 'patient-centred' ad.

Full marks for spotting a decent car ad to cut and paste, but go to the bottom of the class for not making the most of it.

PROSTAP 3 - for advanced prostatic cancer

This ad loses me completely. The indication is advanced prostatic cancer and the Gerald Scarfe-esque typography and the sort of thoughts going through the patient's head (I mean, Grip chair and make la-la sounds?) just do not ring true. If I needed to inject this stuff, I would just get on with it. The pain of the injection would be the least of my worries.

There is no idea going on here and the crazy typography is trying to fill that vacuum. The visual is, inexplicably, a muddy-green shot of a chair. If they are just trying to tell me that the injections are easy to administer, then they'd be better off buying half a page and announcing the fact in 24-point Caslon. The typography does at least catch the eye, however, and this just manages to lift it into my silver category.

The irony of the last line tickles me though: Was that it? My sentiments exactly.

Cialis - for erectile dysfunction

Have you seen the Excel quiz that is going round at the moment where you have to identify nude bottoms as being male or female? (It's surprisingly difficult and I'm too ashamed to reveal my score.) I think they should do a similar thing for art directors and stock shots. Every art director thinks they can spot a stock shot a mile off, and yet I keep reading ad reviews where original photography is branded as stock and vice versa.

Don't get me wrong, if you can find a stock shot that gets you under the radar and safely over the rainbow into advertising nirvana, then congratulations on accomplishing the greatest alchemical transformation in the industry. You won't, however, do it with ads like this. Only Finbarr Saunders (and his doubles entendres) could save this ad.

She: Pretty isolated out here, isn't it?
He: Yes... makes you feel like a shag on a rock, doesn't it?
Then again perhaps not.

The Author 
Don Lyon is senior copywriter at Matthew Poppy Ogilvy.

2nd September 2008

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