The first advert I will be discussing in this report is “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon”. This advert features a young girl, Lily, who sends a message to a lonely man on the moon on Christmas day so he knows someone on earth is thinking of him.
The second advert I will be discussing is “Flash Ah-ah Dog #FlashDog 2016 Advert” featuring a dog and his female owner singing about mud disappearing as a result of “Flash”, a cleaning product.
The third advert is Booking.com’s “Booking.yeah” advert that uses the word “booking” as a substitute for profanities.
The John Lewis advert has a strong narrative and is set in a realistic world similar to ours, however it is anti-realist in one respect as it features a man living on the moon and demonstrates the ease a young girl has in sending a gift there via helium balloons. The narrative is linear and begins with the girl seeing the man on the moon through her telescope. The narrative follows her through her attempts to communicate with the man and ends with him receiving his gift.
John Lewis use the warming narrative to tug on the heartstrings of the viewer to support the charity Age UK, personified as the man on the moon.
In 1946, Propp, a Russian scholar, created a narrative theory based on the functions and character types. His theory, at the time, applied to fairy tales however it can now be applied to all narratives. Propp recognised that all stories tend to have all, or at least most of the following character types;hero, villain, hero’s helper, doner, dispatcher, false hero, princess (prize) and father.
Similarly, Todorov, a philosopher in 1969, created a narrative theory that said each story follows a pattern and has five stages; equilibrium, disruption, recognition of the disruption, an attempt to repair the disruption, reinstated equilibrium.
John Lewis’ advert only features two characters and thus, in relation to Propp’s theory, Lily is the hero and the happiness of the man on the moon is the princess.
The Flash advert is a humorous and anti-realist as it features a singing dog and his owner parodying Queen’s “Flash” song to tell a story in a non-linear narrative. It begins with the dog asking “where the hell has all the mud gone?” and the advert then switches to his owner using Flash to remove the mud stains and the scene is captioned “Earlier” to inform the audience the scene featuring the owner is in the past.
Flash are offering the audience a solution to a problem, and therefore this advert follows aspects Todorov’s theory. The characters are brought back to equilibrium after the disruption (mud being all over the house) is recognised and solved by using the product. This advert encourages the audience to use Flash to bring them back to a sense of equilibrium in their every day lives.
The Booking.com advert features scenes of various people arriving at their holiday destinations. The advert is linear and follows each group of people travelling to their destination, unlocking the door, and reacting to their destination. The advert features a non-diegetic voiceover saying “You got it booking right” in response to their positive reactions.
As the Booking.com advert features snippets of individual narratives, it’s difficult to apply Propp’s theory directly to each character, however each group of people could be described at the Hero and the success of their booking/their destinations could be described as The Princess/The Prize. Todorov’s theory, however, can be applied as the sense of equilibrium is demonstrated when the groups reach their destinations and the disruption of their uncertainty during their journeys is diminished.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates all advertisements in the UK and has the power to remove advertisements if there is a problem or complaint with them and they feel it necessary to take it down. For TV and radio advertising, the ASA regulate under a contract of Ofcom.
The Booking.com advert caused concern and was regulated by the ASA as people recognised the used of “booking” being used as a substitute for a swear word. Audiences were also concerned and challenged whether the advert being aired on CITV or between Harry Potter were appropriate scheduled times due to children being easily influenced by the profanity substitute.
Despite the 2345 complaints and the advert breaking codes such as 1.3 (Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society), the ASA didn’t uphold the complaints and allowed it to air. Booking.com said “purpose of the ad was to reinforce brand recognition and association in respect of the word ‘booking’ as both a company name and website URL”, hence why the word was repeated so often. The ASA didn’t believe the word “booking” was close enough to the word “f****ing” and therefore didn’t feel children would be able to repeat the word and cause offense.
John Lewis realised that online shopping is becoming increasingly popular and thus they pushed their advert and Age UK campaign to the public through social media, e-newsletters and website advertising. Their campaign was promoted and publicized on a number of platforms including Facebook and YouTube and, statistically, has a vast digital outreach and a raging success.
Retrospectively of this, John Lewis realised a heartstring-tugging advert such as this would encourage viewers to come back to their living rooms and enjoy time with their loved ones without the aid of a computer screen.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a description of the needs that encourage and motivate the behaviour of humans. Starting with the basics, Maslow proposed 5 different human needs, survival being the most basic. Physiological needs included food and shelter and these are followed by needs related to safety. Next are feelings of belonging and love. Fourth, the need to be respected and needs related to self esteem. The final need is the need for fulfilling one’s potential and self-actualisation. These needs are in a hierarchy and therefor, for example, the need for basics such as food will be sought before the need for self-actualisation.
John Lewis’ advert conforms to two aspects of Maslow’s hierachy of needs; Actualisation and Social. Within the actualisation need at the top of the hierarchy is a need for improving themselves or others and the advert encourages viewers to give to Age UK to improve other people and thus feel better about themselves. The advert also encourages acceptance of less fortunate people around Christmas and encourages the audience to care for others.
Flash’s advert appeals to the Safety needs as the product being advertised is for use in the home to keep it clean and a healthy environment.
Booking.com’s advert appeals to the Esteem and Self-Actualization aspects of Maslow’s hierarchy as the advert features spontaneity and achievement.
Young and Rubicam created a theory that looks at the brands people buy and how the buyers feel about them. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they theorised that, depending on their core motivation, there are seven different types of people; The Explorer, The Aspirer, The Succeeder, The Reformer, The Mainstream, The Struggler and The Resigned.
The John Lewis advert appeals to Reformers because they pride themselves on being tolerant and make intellectual choices and therefore will be supportive of Age UK and John Lewis’ intentions.
Flash’s advert appeals to The Mainstreamers as they live “normal”, “everyday” lives and the product is an everyday household item.
Booking.com’s advert appeals to The Succeeder as they strive for achievement of goals and being organised to get there. The advert features people’s goals of finding good accommodation being fulfilled and them seeking the best of the best. Succeeders enjoy brands and high-end products and would use a mainstream site such as Booking.com to quench their thirst for the best.
The John Lewis advert has two aims; encouraging the viewer to purchase John Lewis products and encourage people to donate to Age UK. John Lewis successfully use a combination of music and warm narratives to appeal to a wide audience. Children will identify with Lily and adults and the elderly will either identify with or feel sympathetic towards the man on the moon.
The Flash advert successfully offers a solution to a common household problem and features humorous content and a parody of a well-known song that people will recognise and remember after the advert has played.
The Booking.com advert successfully advertises what the product (The website) is for and demonstrated different outcomes and scenarios from using the product. The advert is humorous and the continued repetition of the word “booking” may resonate with the audience, particularly with adults, who will appreciate it as a substitute for a swear word.