Not, I’d say

Remember Shreddies’ knitting Nanas? Launched in 2009, the idea was that hundreds of Nanas lovingly knitted each Shreddie to ensure they were all absolutely perfect. The campaign highlighted Shreddies’ unique design and taste. Some found it off-putting (‘yeuch, wet wool touched by olds’) but the campaign was a success and lasted for years.

But then it eventually ran out of steam, or yarn, and something new was needed. And this is it.

‘Shreddie…OR TOOK THE BOYS BACK TO SCHOOL, (A DAY TOO EARLY).’

So the campaign idea is that you should have Shreddies for breakfast or you’ll end up doing daft things or be otherwise unprepared for the day. It’s basically a twist on the famous Weetabix campaign from the late 1980s that’s just been resurrected in a new spot by BBH. Instead of ‘Have you had your Weetabix?‘ the line is ‘Shreddie or not?

It isn’t a bad thought. Weetabix obviously rate it. McDonald’s tread the same path, too, with ads featuring people wearing mismatched socks because they didn’t start the day with an Egg McThingy.  And to be fair, the TV commercial from Shreddies’ agency McCann is reasonably amusing.

But these posters. Oh my. You might conceivably get half-way to work before remembering it’s a Sunday, or drive to the park to walk the dog before realising that you remembered the dog lead but not the dog. But is parents taking their children back to school the day before terms starts a recognised phenomenon? Why does the ad just talk about boys? Why is A DAY TOO EARLY in brackets? Why is the opening bracket preceded by a comma? Couldn’t they have got a copywriter involved at some stage of the approval process?

Things take a turn for the worse with this next execution. That old chestnut about people deliberately missing tube trains because the copy on a cross-track poster was so captivating might hold some truth. I doubt it, but you never know. But is it even remotely likely that someone would dwell for so long while taking in just 10 words of text that their bus would come and go before they’d reached the end?

I admit that I spent more than a few moments staring at it. But that’s because I couldn’t believe the arrogance of it. I’m ambivalent at best towards the idea of breaking the fourth wall in advertising. It often reeks of smart-arsery. (I warmed to the Oasis campaign after some initial hesitation.) But this is self-congratulatory bollocks. Now you might say hey, we’re in adland here, Mr Literal!! Take a relax pill!!! I’d say you can think about what your ad is going to say for LONGER than seven seconds and STILL have fun. You might even sell some cereal.

I realise I’ve probably blown any chances I’ve got of f’lancing at McCanns, remote though they were. But bloody hell.

Mind you, the campaign does inadvertently have one redeeming consequence. Because every poster site displaying one of these Shreddies ads means one less showing you-know-who.

image courtesy @zacharyking

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6 Comments

Filed under Ill-informed advertising observations

6 responses to “Not, I’d say

  1. Dom

    I think it’s a planner’s ad… a half decent strapline (maybe SHREDDIE FOR ANYTHING would have been stronger, with lots of simple high energy or otherwise draining activities in the visuals) then encumbered with a convoluted brief. By the time the media’s bought and everything has been ticked off the brief checklist, no-one sits back and thinks – are they a good ad? Are they a poster people will ‘get’ or even like? The fact is that the creative director should have binned these, or the client should have faced down McCanns. I’m guessing the ‘design a horse’ brief became so strangled and fatigued that no-one saw it becoming a camel when it went to print. Or no-one cared. And surely these posters could just have been ‘Dropping the kids off at school a day early?’ with the strapline? Rather than the car crash of art direction and copywriting that made it through. Style, and planning, over function.

  2. I’m genuinely grateful for this post, because I honestly did not understand the ads until I read it. (Of course, that could be some quality in me rather than some quality in the ads.)

    I think ‘Shreddie or not’ is a nice line, but assuming the allusion is to the expression ‘ready or not’, the copy doesn’t follow through on it.

    If I took the kids to school a day *late*, I would not have been ready/Shreddie. Taking them a day early seems to speak to over-readiness, if anything.

    Similarly, if I was late for the bus because I was eating some other cereal (perhaps), I would not have been ready/Shreddie. Missing the bus because you were staring at a poster, as you say, suggests implausible idiocy.

    Looking at the ads again, it seems ‘Shreddie’ doesn’t mean ‘ready’, but something more like ‘smart’. Shreddies make you clever; if you don’t eat them, you do stupid things. So in a way, they’re a sort of FMCG remix of the Economist ads, all of which said ‘Read the Economist or stay stupid’ in different ways. But not quite as good.

    • bravenewmalden

      It’s such a shame because although the TV ad needs to be seen a few times (thanks to the tricky split-screen device) at least it makes sense and is a bit funny. But I think they left the posters for a junior team to do. I dread hearing the radio ads…

  3. Personally I think “Shreddie or not” fails at the most fundamental level – who eats a single Shreddie for breakfast?

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