Ad Of The Week
Take Pleasure Seriously
In an age of proliferating channels and endless data streams, what makes a successful global ad campaign? Often in Ad Of The Week, we celebrate campaigns that create emotional impact by stressing local richness, with right-brained touches like strong dialogue, crowd-pleasing cultural references and great characters.
But often that work lands locally. If you’re Unilever, promoting a global brand like Magnum ice cream, you might have different priorities. This week’s ad of the week is only 10 seconds long, and it’s an ad which is just the latest variant in a campaign which has been running for several years now, promoting various Magnum tubs.
The basic content of the ad – the footage of making and breaking the Magnum tubs, and the swaggering soundtrack, has been cut and edited to appear in dozens of different commercials around the world, and on multiple channels from TV to Twitter.
That efficient process – making a little creativity go a very long way commercially – is at the heart of the modern Unilever approach to advertising. And Magnum’s “Double The Pleasure” is the best in class example of it. A 20 second TV version, from 2018, scored 5.0 Stars. This week’s 10 second version, for the Salted Caramel flavour, improved on that with a massive 5.8 Star score. Unilever have refined and optimised the ad, cutting down the elements in the kitchen (which are less emotionally intense) for a greater focus on the pleasure of cracking the top of the tub.
The result is ten seconds of pure product-led effectiveness. Tubs of ice cream had been an issue for the Magnum brand, whose distinctive asset – the thick chocolate coating – didn’t fit easily with the premium tub format. The squeezable, crackable top solved that problem, and that’s why it’s front-and-centre in the ads.
By constantly reusing the same basic material in its Magnum ads, Unilever have essentially conducted a large-scale, multi-year effectiveness experiment, and can now distil the most impactful parts of the ad into this short, highly efficient version.
But beware – this kind of optimisation can improve an already good ad, but it can’t necessarily do much about an average or mediocre one. It’s relatively easy to run emotional product-focused ads in ice cream (a category which benefits from strongly pleasurable associations). It’s harder to do the same thing for shampoo, fats, detergent, or most of Unilever’s other product lines. That’s not to detract from how skilfully the Magnum brand is selling itself – just to underline that making great global work is still very tough indeed.