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How an AdWords ad killed a great campaign

Michael Lee’s blog – “In A World Of 140 Characters, Great branding Can Give A Brand Its Voice” http://tinyurl.com/140-characters-blog - celebrates the resurgent role of copywriting. He cites examples from the recent Cannes festival, including work for Chrysler, Levis, Puma and Dodge, amongst others. They are all long form commercials, or virals. Each one is a beautifully crafted piece of work with an emotional truth at its heart. I found the commercial for Dodge the most moving.

Crafted copywriting

It’s beautifully simple – a montage of still photographs, most of them portraits of American farmers going about their daily lives. They show cracked, weather beaten faces; callused hands; mud caked boots; weariness and fathomless patience. Many of the faces look you in the eye with a depth of wisdom I couldn’t even begin to guess at. As they pass before you a beautifully written narration intones that on the eighth day God looked down on the paradise he had created and realized it needed a caretaker, and so he created a farmer. The script continues by celebrating farmers and beneath its folksy plain speaking, it packs a hugely powerful emotional punch.

If you haven’t seen it then I urge you to look at it here. I promise you that you will never pick up a carton of milk, or a bunch of vegetables, in the supermarket in the same way ever again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S87BhEJX_bg

Wasted opportunity

Some of the comments on YouTube the ad has attracted bear this out: “I hate Dodge but I love this commercial” said one. Another wrote, “I don’t believe in God and never did, but this commercial, just a commercial, and commercial for a car company at that, made me doubt myself”. A beautifully crafted commercial and simple, powerful copywriting have transformed a brand and reconnected Dodge to its audience in a whole new way that has left people deeply moved. I just hope those same people don’t then go and search for Dodge on Google. Why? Because when I did I got a callous, hard sell, Google AdWords ad that shattered the finely wrought dreamscape Dodge have spent millions of dollars creating. The ad bore no relationship to this new branding message whatsoever, it didn’t even try.

This begs the question where does the AdWords ad sit in the consumer’s emotional journey. If it’s the last port of call then it can talk solely about selling. But it isn’t, the Landing Page is the final destination and that’s where the selling should take place. Until the final destination is reached, every element of the brand building activity – which I would argue includes the AdWords ad – is part of the consumer’s journey, and in Dodge’s case it’s a highly emotional and moving one. Or was until the final piece of the jigsaw was casually popped into place.

Going the whole hog

It’s a crying shame Dodge didn’t go the whole hog and take the extra care, attention to detail, and even perhaps love to include Google AdWords in their brand thinking, which this wonderful work so clearly deserves. My guess is a farmer would have.
By Paul Booth

Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of The ATO Co, which delivers ATO AdWords copywriting for UK-only and international brands in over 80 countries around the world.