Magnum “Fake!” Ad Is the Real Thing


The Fraud


Magnum is the UK’s top ice cream bar, and when you’re Number 1, it brings out the imitators and wannabes. That’s inevitable: every big-name brand has to deal with generic and own-brand competition. But just because something looks like a Magnum doesn’t mean it tastes like, feels like, or cracks open like a Magnum.

But making that point directly isn’t always easy. Advertising against generic brands can end up pointing out the similarities, not the differences, between your product and the competition. That’s especially true in an FMCG category where so many of those differences are intangible. Eat a Magnum next to a knock-off version and you’ll realise the difference. But putting that into compelling copy is another matter.

Which is why Lola MullenLowe have gone the metaphorical route, and created “Stick To The Original”, one of the funniest ads of the last few years. In their gloriously melodramatic spot, a boyfriend’s purchase of a fake Magnum lights a fuse of doubt in his partner’s mind – what else has he been faking? As an ominous choir chants “FAKE! FAKE!” over dramatic strings, the woman finds her worst fears confirmed – everything from his sports trophies to his luxuriant moustache is phoney. Devastated, she leaves to enjoy the one thing she can still trust – a Magnum ice cream.

Magnum’s ads have often pushed against ice cream category codes, introducing a twist on standard tropes, like the “Pleasure Residence” spot from 2022 with a luxury hotel full of extremely hip older people. There’s generally a sensuous core to their ads, though, highlighting the indulgence a Magnum represents. In “Stick To The Original” that pleasure is deferred until the very end, and the ad is confident enough to play with negative emotions – like fear and anger – until the final shots. It’s an ad that really doesn’t feel like anything Magnum have done before.

The reason for the confidence is obvious – the ad’s makers know what they’re creating is very funny, and are happy to milk that humour for most of the commercial. The jokes are all the better for not being spelt out. The series of sight gags in the middle of the ad as our heroine goes through her boyfriend’s belongings are beautifully done, beginning the viewer’s flip from negative to positive emotion.

An ad this dramatic is still risky, of course – humour can sometimes fall flat. But not in this case. The ad scores a strong 4.7-Star Rating, and the emotional intensity pushes Magnum into an Exceptional short-term Spike bracket. Perhaps most impressively – given how the ad spotlights generic competitors – the ad is also Exceptional on Brand Fluency. People love the commercial, and they know it’s for Magnum. Job done.

“Stick To The Original” is one of the most entertaining ice cream ads we’ve seen in years, and it’s a witty, original execution of a tricky message. It’s a lesson to other brands – humour and storytelling can make your ad and message stand out, even in a category with codes as powerful as ice cream.

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