A Defence of ‘Annoying’ Ads

During a slightly hungover Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine that is not in the marketing industry (they are in the army — a proper job apparently) was complaining about the Beaglestreet advert that has been on TV recently. They had just returned from active service and had the time to enjoy the wonders of daytime TV and all the advertising that accompanies Jeremy Kyle and Cash in the Attic.

Actual footage of the Sunday Lunch in question

“It’s lazy marketing, unimaginative and crap. It’s a big bloke called Street and a beagle with hypnotic eyes. Rubbish.”

Whilst you can argue that this campaign perhaps isn’t the most creative in the history of our wonderful industry. You can’t deny that is has been effective. It had people taking to Twitter to show their annoyance and to provide their opinion. These ‘earned’ mentions will only help to promote the campaign, achieving more exposure and awareness for the brand.

When I asked my friend what the company name was, they were able to dredge the information from the depths of their booze-addled brain in a heartbeat.

On the other hand, when I asked for the name of another life insurance provider this turned out to be a step too far for the mind of the woolly-headed Lieutenant.

Sensing a rare opportunity to score a victory on behalf of those of us that ‘just mess about on Twitter for a living,’ I pressed on. Could we not, therefore, conclude that the advert was, in fact, a clever piece of marketing that achieved its aim of raising the brand’s profile within the market?

Sweet, sweet victory. 1–0 to marketing.

This marketing campaign created characters that are memorable and can be used in wider marketing efforts. You may not like Beagle and Street, but you will definitely remember them in the future, possibly against your will. This awareness means that in the future, the brand will need to spend less precious advertising time introducing themselves and more time promoting the unique selling points of their business (like paying out on 100% of valid claims apparently).

The business has been in existence since 2012. I am by no means a life insurance aficionado, but I do tend to remember good adverts that I encounter. I couldn’t tell you a single advert that the brand has created before this one.

Forbes estimates that a typical person is exposed to between 4–10,000 adverts per day. As a result, we are immune to many adverts we see. Marketing and advertising are becoming more challenging due to the sheer volume of competition. This is particularly true for digital and social media marketing. Banner ads are not only competing against ad-blockers. They are also trying to engage an audience that is bombarded with marketing messages from the minute their alarm clock sounds to the minute they watch that last Youtube video before they fall asleep, dribbling and with their phone on their face (just me?). To be memorable for being annoying is an achievement in itself.

This is a great example of campaigns not getting the credit they deserve. At first glance, the campaign can seem simple, straightforward and possibly even poorly conceived. Yet I would be willing to bet that the campaign achieved its goals in terms of awareness and website traffic.

I may be slightly biased as I work for a (brilliant) marketing agency. However, sometimes having a different perspective, combined with the experience of what ‘works.’ At h2o we get to know our clients and their products. We find out what makes them tick. But despite this, we will always be slightly removed from the product. This allows us to take a step back, see the wood for the trees and other cliches to create marketing ideas that are left-field to come to fruition and can create the irreverence that is memorable, or at least memorably annoying.