Last week at D&AD Festival, I was lucky enough to attend a lecture called “Storytelling in an attention deficit world” by Gaston Legorburu, the Chief Creative Strategist for Publicis.Sapient and ex-Global Chief Creative Officer for SapientNitro. This is a man who knows things, has opinions, and has risen as high in the business as it’s possible to be, without being Martin Sorrell. It was an excellent talk, and to my eternal shame I didn’t take nearly enough notes. Nor did I live-tweet it because live-tweeting a lecture is about as useful as live-tweeting intercourse; you really have to be in the room to appreciate it. However, one quote struck me as infinitely 140-character-compressible, and so I was compelled to share:
— David Felton (@doritosyndrome) April 20, 2016
Gaston was confirming for most of us (although perhaps explaining to a few), that learning doesn’t just happen at school. It doesn’t just happen in a classroom or a lecture hall. And it doesn’t finish when you throw a flat cap in the air and head out into the world, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Learning is a lifelong pursuit, valid and important and necessary at any age, especially if you want to keep on adding value and being relevant in the advertising industry. It was a good insight, from a good speaker.
With that extremely meandering addendum, here’s another one: I like Purdey’s. They are a brand I personally consume. When I’m ill, or when they’re on special offer, I hunt Purdey’s out and guzzle them down. I have no illusions that they’re doing me any particular good, but I like the taste and I like placebos.
In addition to liking Purdey’s, I also like Idris Elba. He’s a fine actor, universally liked one might say. When he speaks, we listen. He has gravitas. Which is what makes him perfect for this role, and sadly I don’t mean that as a compliment.
There’s a famous anecdotal line where Harrison Ford turns to George Lucas while they’re filming Star Wars and tells him: “George, you can type this shit, but you can't say it!” And that’s the problem with this ad, which on paper I should love, but distinctly dislike. You can type incredibly stupid lines like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” but as soon as you say them you sound like an absolute idiot. If one man on the planet could pull it off, it would have to be Harrison Ford, or perhaps Idris Elba. But it breaks down as soon as you think about it. We all know “grow up” means “When you are older”, it does not literally mean “When you grow as a person.” This is plain stupid. But of course with an overly indulgent length of almost three minutes, who needs rationality.
An older gentleman gets the point straight away, “Oh no, you never stop learning do you?” I wonder when, as an industry, we’ll learn to make better ads than this?
Which leads me directly into my second big gripe with this ad. It is – quite simply – based on a lie. Idris tells us that:
Myself and Purdey’s, we think that people shouldn’t stop growing. They should always challenge themselves. No matter what stage they are in life, people shouldn’t stop dreaming – they should thrive on.
You see what they’ve done there? You do see it, don’t you? It’s very clever. Without making any health claims, they’ve managed to heavily imply that their fizzy grape drink will help you accomplish your dreams. For those of us that believe in using advertising to tell the truth, not spin lies, it’s very disheartening. When you slow down and look at the language on a granular level, it’s reasonably clear than no laws are being broken, yet every cell of this ad wants to persuade you that Purdey’s is a health drink. Purdey’s is for people who ‘Thrive On’ at every age.
But what does ‘Thrive On’ mean? It certainly has no health implications, which is what makes it such a subtle little devil.
Therefore internet friends, I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions about Purdey’s – a drink which I enjoy – and therefore am certainly not ideologically opposed against.
1) Purdey’s contains 22g of sugar in a 330ml bottle; 73% of the UK RDA of 30g.
2) The drink is made from fruit juices - from concentrate (Grape 41%, Apple 16%), plus carbonated spring water (41%) – total 98%
3) That left over 2% is natural flavorings, botanical extracts, citric acid and vitamins.
4) Purdey’s will not help you ‘thrive on’ any more than a bottle of water and a vitamin tablet.
5) If you drank one bottle of Purdey’s per day, you’d be consuming 154g of sugar per week, and drinking 742 calories.
6) That’s just slightly under a McDonald’s Big Mac (540 calories) and a small fries (230).
7) Does that sound like a healthy choice to you?
It’s your body, and we all need to take responsibility to educate ourselves. And as for this ad, while on paper we should all love it, everyone here at Adland doesn’t. Idris Elba deserves better than being used to sell lies, and to tell a stupid brand story. Purdey’s doesn’t care about you. Purdey’s is Britvic plc, (BVIC), a company worth £1.3 billion and they’re selling you sugar water – shaken and stirred.