Ciaran Watkins – In-House Advertising – What’s The Big Eye-Dea?

Posted on April 17, 2011 by


There are very few companies who have an almost flawless television advert back catalogue. There are of course the folks at Honda, Guinness, Sony, and Coca Cola, which I could easily rattle on about for paragraphs upon paragraphs, but after those I begin to run short. These brands are managed brilliantly, and while agencies may change over the years, the brands make sure they’re represented in the best way possible. Advertising as we all know, is a multi-billion dollar industry. Agencies compete against each other every second of the day hoping to secure the next large account. With a brand new and swanky big client, comes a rather large budget. That budget can be spent on the adverts themselves, but what you’ll find is that most agencies will use some of it to try and expand their ranks. In other words, they’ll hire some young blood to tackle the boring stuff while the big-wigs get to crack on with the bigger brands. It’s a natural thing to do, and it’s the been the norm for quite a while now.

What happens then, when a brand decides to overlook an agency’s help, and opts for in-house work? Are they cutting out a rather expensive middle man, or are they giving up a great resource? It’s definitely up for debate, but today I shall be looking at a company who obviously has a cracking in-house creative team, and uses them to the best of their ability.

Cracking set of ads! I’m amazed that these are all done in-house. Each one is its own individual campaign, all linked together with the brands very own catchphrase / tag line. Every ad released by Specsavers, whether it hit or miss, is almost a miniature event in itself. The company obviously take very good care of their creative department, and in turn, the creative department takes care of the brand!

I could have easily posted another four or five memorable Specsavers ads, but I’m choosing to post my favourite. I think it dates back to 2009, but it feels a lot older than that. Any way, here it is in all of it’s glory.

Harrison indeed. It’s a cracking little T.V spot, and it never fails to make me laugh. I’ve always been a disciple of humour in adverts, and this one is no different. From the little evil laugh Harrison lets off in the board meeting, to the final ‘push’ pay-off, the advert is practically shoving humour in our faces. The idea behind the ad (cover all of our own advertising because we’re so brilliant) is a stroke of genius. In trying to block something out, a viewer will of course pay more attention to it. The ad doesn’t rely on the ‘Should have’ line using it only once, and is a new campaign direction in itself.

In fact, over the past couple of years there have been three ‘Harrison’ ads put out by the in-house design team, and a countless amount of interactive digital work. I’m sure (or at least I hope)we’ll see more of Harry and his ever lasting quest to make people forget Specsavers, as the new ads aren’t fantastic.

While not being awful, I just don’t think the campaign is as good as previous ones. The idea behind it sounds a little contrived too. Here’s what the Creative Director of Specsavers has to say about it;

Mr. Daldry, who is creative director of Specsavers Creative, said: “These ads are a good example of how we can target ‘Should’ve’ to a specific message and market. Everyone over 45 knows that you either need longer arms or glasses. The ads are quick and to the point. And Jeff Stark has done a great job of telling the story simply and with charm.”

How far would someone go to be able to focus on their reading? In Specsavers’ latest 10-second spot, a man has his arms surgically lengthened so he can read his newspaper.

Another 10-second spot from Specsavers, ‘Lift’, which sees an arrogant City-type get his newspaper caught in lift doors as he stretches his arms to read it, will run at the same time. They are part of a campaign to target over-45s with our varifocals promotion and it breaks across national TV from 3rd April 2011.

To me, the ads are too short to get the information and joke accross, but I suppose I’m not the target audience. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t heard to phrase ‘longer arms or glasses’ before either. It’s always hard to comment on an advert when I’m not part of the target audience, but I’d take Harrison over these ads any day.

While the new ads may be a blip (and by blip, I mean the smallest of tiniest of blips) on an otherwise brilliant track record, I’m sure the new wave of Specsavers ads will be fantastic. In-house work is something Specsavers must take very very seriously, and over the years it’s definitely paid off. They’ve won awards and nominations from D&AD and, Cannes Lions, and I’m sure more will follow. Maybe it’s somewhere I should take my poor eyes and portfolio for a chat. They can give me an eye test while they’re at it.

Thanks for making my glasses and contact lenses Specsavers, but more importantly, thanks for keeping me entertained with cracking adverts. Keep it up.

Read more over at Whatever’s In There, Falls Out Here.

Posted in: Ciaran Watkins