Uncle Ben’s Brings Families Together

Special Guests

Uncle Ben's


The first wave of Covid-19 ads were all about reassurance – the “we’re here for you” ads made of stock footage and voiceovers, designed to comfort people reeling from the initial shock of a world on pause.

The second wave were all about celebration – using phone footage and user-generated material to praise people for their creativity and kindness. Ads like Google’s “Where There’s Help, There’s Hope” and ITV’s “Clap From Our Carers” turned the camera on the audience and cheered them for coping.

This week, though, we’ve seen a new kind of Covid-19 ad. Uncle Bens’ “Special Guests” has original footage. It has a consistent cast. It tells a story. All things which make it very much like….well, like an ad. A normal, pre-crisis ad.

Don’t get us wrong – it’s a very good ad with huge emotional impact for viewers. At a massive 5.9 Stars it’s likely to be one of the highest scoring of the year. It tells a simple story with a happy ending very well – a Dad and daughter want to see their Grandma again, and through the power of technology, they can see each other and eat together too.

There’s some lovely right-brained ‘between-ness’ in the parent and child relationship, and the screens-bringing-people-together plotline has landed well in several previous ads for the likes of Facebook. And yes, it’s probably a relief for viewers to see a normal ad back on their screens.

It’s also very much a Covid-19 ad. The man and the girl are in quarantine, trying to fill their days and missing relatives. But there are no solemn voiceovers, no mention of “coronavirus” or “isolation” or even “these uncertain times”.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the “new normal”. We still don’t know exactly what that will look like. But ads like “Special Guests” point one way there. Ads with the virtues of the old normal – storytelling, emotion, between-ness – where Covid-19 is the frame, not the picture.