According to Ad Age Today, that awful “HeadOn” commercial that we’ve all seen and groaned about is clearly one of the “worst commercials ever from a creative standpoint.” Jay Leno and John Stewart have both mocked it on the air and NBC News called it the “most annoying ad on television”.
Since they started running the spot, HeadOne sales have skyrocketed. We’re talking a 234% increase in 2006 from 2005 and already this year (September), they have nearly equaled 2006 sales. What the Hell does this tell us?
The VP of sales at Miralus, who owns HeadOn, says they are more interested in brand awareness than winning creative awards.
But it’s hard to deny their success. So what does that mean for those of us who believe that creativity sells? Those of us who spend our days looking for the different creative approach that we think will cut through the ad clutter for our clients?
I don’t know. I know that Miralus spends just $15 million a year on measured media – which is a drop in the bucket for a national brand. Much less than brands that have lost sales.
I also know this. Whether the creative is good or whether it’s garbage, whether it wins an award or doesn’t, whether the creative director is proud of it or embarrassed by it, the goal remains the same. To sell stuff (and by “stuff”, I mean things, services, ideas, positions – all of it). That’s something people in our business sometimes forget in the push for creativity.
If any of you reading this are clients and you’re going to hold this up to your agencies as a justification for bad creative, don't. One reason I think HeadOn has worked so far is because it is just so awful it stands out. Everything can’t be the worst. So in the spirit of Harvey Keitel’s famous line in “Pulp Fiction” let’s not all start shooting for bad creative. Besides, fame is fleeting.
Nobody values or believes in creativity as a practical business tool more than I do. Creativity and advertising effectiveness certainly go together in my book. But maybe it sometimes takes crap like HeadOn to remind us that the Point of The Exercise is, after all, to sell stuff. And I do know that sometimes creative folk let their ideas get away from them.
A few years ago, Karen and I were at a presentation Dan Wieden of Wieden + Kennedy made at the
Clearly Dan took offense and in a tone of voice that was equal parts condescending and angry told me that “It's not about selling beer, young man . . . "
But I was put properly enough in my place that I didn’t challenge him on it. I just sank down in my seat as all the
And then again, there’s HeadOn. An absolute joke of creativity that just happens to be pretty damned effective. Much more effective than “Dick.”
Which I never liked anyway.