Is half an idea better than none?

There was a letter in Campaign the other day bemoaning the lack of creativity in the current posters for Sensodyne toothpaste.  Honestly, said the angry correspondent, all they’ve done is to typeset the propositions from the brief – and, what’s more, in a typeface that looks suspiciously like Times New Roman, in black, against a white background. 

It’s a fair point.  The headlines do indeed say things like “Sensodyne toothpaste can help reduce the pain you feel if you suffer from sensitive teeth.”  You can’t imagine that this brief detained the copywriter, or indeed the art director, for long.

Meanwhile, at more or less the same time, we’re also seeing a very heavy outdoor and tubecard campaign for the giant insurance company AXA.  This brief has clearly detained the copywriter and the art director for a very long time indeed.  They have grappled manfully, or womanfully, to try to make some kind of sense out of an impossible cocktail of what I suppose one might describe as “creative elements” – a bunch of specific AXA products and services to promote, some shots of people looking kind of pensive, the creatively-barren diagonal red line that AXA seem to want to make into the world’s dullest brand icon, and a bunch of hand-lettered words that are supposed to reflect the photographee’s worried thoughts about their lack of financial  planning.

The result is, frankly, absolutely hopeless.  It may be the worst outdoor campaign for a major financial institution ever.  It doesn’t do anything.  It doesn’t engage, it doesn’t reward, it doesn’t dramatise, it doesn’t surprise, and most of all, it doesn’t communicate.  I confidently predict that the campaign will not bring about the slightest deviation in the relevant graph-lines of the Hall & Partners tracking studies of AXA and its major competitors.

On the upside, no-one is going to write in to Campaign saying that it’s just the propositions from the brief set in Times New Roman.  But really, which campaign is a) more effective and b) more agreeable?  Maybe I’m getting old.  But, albeit without any great enthusiasm, I’d take Sensodyne’s clear and uncluttered typesetting over AXA’s ridiculous hotchpotch any day of the week.

1 thought on “Is half an idea better than none?

  1. AXA nicked that crazy typeface off of Macmillan Nurses, which is mean, but should we be surprised by agency bungling or client stumbling?

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