Because We're Worth It.......

Posted on 24th November, 2013

The beer you drink on holiday never tastes as good as the beer you drink after a hard day’s work.


Don’t get me wrong. Beer on holiday is still fun and it still hits the spot, but it ain’t the same.  Because you haven’t earned it.


I think the same might be true of advertising.  Certainly it is everywhere else in life – that immutable , and annoyingly accurate, “parents’ law” that every child is subjected to:’ you only get out what you put in.’


As consumers, we all tend to get more out of an advert we’ve had to put a little effort into. The intellectual flattery, the implicit ‘club membership’ and the nod-and-a-wink that says you’re part of something vaguely exclusive, it’s all terribly rewarding.


My first experience of this was Paul Arden’s Silk Cut ads.  I can still remember the thrill as a boy when I worked it out – ‘purple silk….., pair of scissors…….,….Cut…..Silk – Silk Cut: got it!.’ More recent examples, at least for me personally, would be the magical double-take that BBH forced us all to make for their Marmite/Margaret work (‘of course! She also brought about strong feelings either way!’) and funnily enough the less glamorous but arresting Nuffield Gyms campaign which features strong art direction heroing all the things Nuffield, as a gym, are in fact not.


I wonder whether the delight brought about by these ads is directly proportionate to the investment that the creative concept forces us to make; the process of ‘working it out’?


Clearly there’s a fine line. Overdo it, make the consumer feel like they’re having to work too hard, and it’s game over. Self-indulgent, overly complex puzzles are a definite no-no. But leaving just a little bit to be ‘discovered’, just enough to show the consumer, leaning on Ogilvy’s famous dictum, that you do not consider them to be a moron, then that can render fabulous rewards, share-of-mind-wise.  We’re much more likely to remember things that we’ve had to think about, things we’ve explored in our own minds, even if only fleetingly, than things that have simply been served up to us on a plate, without any chance to use our imaginations at all.


It is perhaps the cerebral equivalent of the Victorian flash of ankle, in a world dominated by full frontal.


For, as your parents might also have said, in an altogether different context, it’s important not to give away the goods too soon…….. 


- this piece first kindly published by Campaign Magazine at



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