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It’s not often that a TV ad stops you in your tracks when you have your back to the box.

But I had a “bugger me someone’s got Morgan Freeman to voiceover their ad” moment yesterday.

You can recreate that moment by pressing play below and turning your back on your computer.

If it weren’t for the fact that he’s talking about roof tiles and home insurance, you could easily be on the plate factory roof enjoying ice cold Bohemia style beer in the Spring of ’49 with the Shawshank convict crew. (Clip included below because it’s awesome).

But it’s not Morgan Freeman playing MORE TH>N Freeman. It’s American comedian Josh Robert Thompson. And, based on this making of film, he seems to have thrown himself wholeheartedly into the role.

But what do we make of this new campaign?

Shawshank or ham shank?

Well, on balance, I’m inclined to give this one the benefit of the doubt. On television at least it seems to be MORE TH>N the sum of its parts (groan).

> As mentioned the voiceover alone stops you in your tracks in a bugger me that’s Morgan Freeman stylee. (On first exposure at least.)

> One man’s corny is another man’s populist approach to effective branding. The More Than Freeman idea passes the old “any brand could have done this” test. Because any other brand clearly couldn’t have done this.

> Each ad so far is based on a potentially motivating product nugget – for instance the car insurance execution talks about providing a courtesy car within 2 hours of yours becoming undriveable.

< On the downside is the fact that the ads “talk about” the product nuggets. People don’t absorb detail from voiceovers. If you want them to remember something you have to weave that something into the (visual) narrative – commercial storytelling.

> These ads are not great examples of the commercial storyteller’s art. But I think Robert Heath would like them. If you subscribe to the low attention processing model of how advertising works, then you’ll like this campaign. If MORE TH>N sticks with it I foresee increased (correctly attributed) awareness and improved propensity to purchase.

< It’s early days but I couldn’t help having a quick look at what’s happening around the campaign in digital channels. Yes there’s a YouTube channel, which has added value content such as the Making Of video. But there’s not much evidence of a concerted approach to universal search, at this stage at least.

At the time of writing the first relevant return for a search on “More Than Freeman” is a video reference at position 10.

< And they’ve put More Than Freeman on Twitter. Oh yes they have. Six tweets and 55 followers at the time of writing. Based on “his” tweets so far they’re attempting to recreate the pseusdo intellectual tone of the TV ads on Twitter. But do they have a credible, commercial answer to the question why? Or is this an ill-thought, or no-thought, exercise in social media box ticking? I suspect the latter.

Hats off to another financial services company that is prepared to try something new. I think they’re sitting on a campaign that will be effective as an exercise in branding. How they will work this through the line is another matter. Based on their initial digital efforts it looks like a case of could do better.

5 Responses to “MORE TH>N Freeman. Shawshank or ham shank?”

  1. Dave Harrison says:

    Really insightful piece on a 7.5 out of 10 campaign.

  2. Han says:

    Interesting point about no other brand being able to do it, but I think Compare the Market’s meerkat is based on the same concept. It’s just a pun. And soon, we’ll all be saying ‘Moorethaaan’ in a deep, Morgan Freeman-style voice, and it’ll become a meme, and hey presto. 🙂

    • philadams1 says:

      Agreed that Compare the Market works in a similar way. Like I said, one man’s corny s another’s populist branding technique. A lot of ad agency creatives shy away from this stuff but it works – at a branded memorability level at least. Thanks for the comment. Phil

  3. Andy Nattan says:

    The Twitter account’s box ticking (and I think that given that f**king Meerkat’s inexplicable popularity, we’ll see lots more of that), but the actual adverts themselves are superb.

  4. philadams1 says:

    If it’s not box ticking I really can’t see where it’s going from what “he” has posted so far. Still only 10 tweets and it seems to be an exercise in mimicking the tone of voice of the ads. I doubt, however, that the TV copywriter is staffing the Twitter account.

    There are also all sorts of contractual issues with this Josh Robert Thompson geezer that will impact on the longevity of this campaign in all channels. They don’t have those problems with the meerkat.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Phil

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