Take another look. At Remuera?

I live in Remuera.  Have done, on and off, for years.  I publicly struggle with this.  I work in advertising. So does my wife. We have two children. They wear blazers to school.  I would ideally drive a Jag. I’d be happiest when driving it to the golf course.  I’d be happier still if I were wearing a blazer. I couldn’t be more Remuera.

So as a resident I feel I’m allowed to comment on this billboard. It’s how Remuera has just begun promoting itself. Auckland is being encouraged to ‘Take Another Look” at Remuera.

I have one basic problem with it.

If the thrust of the campaign is encouraging people to look again at Remuera, doesn’t that imply that Remuera has somehow changed, that it’s different to what you might have believed?  But the visual is about as strikingly Remuera as it’s possible to get.  Ask the majority of people what they associate with Remuera and you’ll pretty quickly arrive at grey hair, weak cappuccino and pashminas. The only way this image could look more Remuera would be a set of secateurs on the table. (Though actually what it most looks like to me is a breakout session from an Aryan Genealogy Conference.)

Which, given that it looks exactly like people imagine Remuera to be, pretty much undermines the promise of something worth taking another look at, doesn’t it?

Which is all rather unkind, but does illustrate a serious point.  It’s the kind of advertising that results from well-intentioned, wishful thinking.

At a basic level I think there are a lot of brands that know exactly what they are.  But what they are is not particularly fashionable, stylish, or cool, and they have a misplaced craving to be those things.

So those brands produce advertising that betrays them.

They pretend to be something they’re not when there is actually much to be gained from focusing on what they already are.

Which is a conversation I find myself having a lot with clients.  They have an understandable desire to stretch, to want to be different. But this is at odds with the reality, because their ambition precedes their action.  So they use advertising as a way of dressing up, of pretending to be something they’ve not yet become.

Or, as in this case, inviting people to take another look at something that hasn’t actually changed.

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Take another look. At Remuera?

3 thoughts on “Take another look. At Remuera?

  1. Ian Howarth says:

    I have an alternate tag line for the Remuera billboard. It’s a bit long, but I figure Remmers residents have the time to savour it.

    “Remuera. You’re a long time dead. Start early.”

  2. Ian Howarth says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with your comments. Truth in advertising isn’t a call for high standards, it’s a mantra for effectiveness. Everyone knows that you should play to your strengths. If those strengths aren’t sexy, well, sorry, but you have to do what you can. The classic case in my mind (because it was explained slowly and carefully) was Saatchi’s brilliant campaign for Mainland cheese, started in the 80s and still going strong today. Problem: we’re provincial, old-fashioned, out-dated, slow to market and very conservative. Doesn’t sound great when you say it like that, but imagine if Mainland had tried to position themselves as “The modern cheese! The cheese for success! Cheese that says I’m here, I’m hip and I’m ready to rock your world with my daring dairy goodness!”

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