Comedy Marketing

Just because you hate an advert doesn’t mean it doesn’t work

I really, really despise the campaign for Haribo sweets, currently making a return to UK screens as welcome as a bout of acid reflux. What’s weird is that I don’t understand my own irrational, visceral loathing. After all, it is patently intended to be a funny and cute little advert about how Haribo sweets bring out the child in grown-ups.

Sure it is pathetic and creepy and makes me want to projectile vomit in the direction of the TV. Even so, the technique of adults channeling children’s voices is not new, or unique to Haribo. Last year for example there was one for Harry Potter Studio tour, which although it used the same device was slightly less nauseating.

The agency I worked at in the noughties, my boss at RAPP Ian Haworth wrote some DRTV ads for NSPCC which used the same technique. A woman in her twenties who had been sexually abused, an overworked housewife remembering her parents abusing her as a child, and a man obsessed with self-defence recalling the fragile child he once was. These ads had a purpose and, at the time, were striking. However, although in my opinion were truly excellent adverts, they weren’t the most successful at fundraising as other campaigns the NSPCC ran.

Unlike the clearly successful dumb as nuts Haribo ad. The fact is this godawful thing is in my brain. It has worked. It hasn’t changed my opinion on Haribo Starmix about which I am resolutely in the meh camp. But Haribo is a product I now can’t forget. Gah! Sometimes I hate advertising.

By Peter Kenny

I lead a double life. Identity #1. A writer of poems, comedy plays, dark fiction and the odd libretto. Identity #2: A marketing outlier, working with London creative agencies and my own clients as a copywriter and creative consultant.

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