T-Mobile has disobeyed its own (flash) mob rules with its royal wedding ad.
Last night, on the train home, I jotted down a list of T-Mobile values on the back of a receipt.
(Sorry Evernote, I still love you.)
These values are my out-take from the brand’s recent flash-mob style ads; the ones that immediately preceded the latest offering.
And, based on that kind of list, I can see how the script for the Royal Wedding film could have been briefed, written, sold, bought and made.
On the face of it, it’s on brief, on brand and it moves the campaign on, keeping the surprise and originality factor up and avoiding any “tired formula” accusations.
And I should say that, on the face of it, it’s actually a bloody good ad. Given the subject matter I don’t want to like it. But I do.
It leaves me with a smile on my face.
The casting is great. They paid a great deal of attention to the lookalikes.
And, in a strange way, it’s credible. I kind of believe the unfettered brotherly vibe between the two princes.
(And I can imagine that their mother would be clapping along in her grave at the thought of this two-fingers-to-the-po-faced-royal-establishment style of wedding. “If only” she’d be thinking.)
And yet, at the same time, it doesn’t quite feel all that it was cracked up to be.
That’s partly because the brand went to great lengths to crack it up. It released a teaser/trailer that on its own racked up over 400,000 views on YouTube.
But, for my money, it’s mainly because they’ve slightly misinterpreted or misunderstood some of their own values.
And the above trailer only serves to underline this in my view.
First there was Liverpool Street.
Then there was Trafalgar Square.
True, the Royal Wedding ad has scale and amibition – the brand has single-handedly hijacked the run-up to a huge global event via a film that was launched online only and that, at the time of writing has amassed a huge amount of PR coverage (39.4 million Google search results) and over 5 million views.
But it’s not the same kind of scale and ambition.
Liverpool, Trafalgar Square, Heathrow.
Big, public, wide-open spaces.
Big, public, wide-open spaces that are difficult to hijack.
Whilst the Royal Wedding ad is ambitious, the degree of practical, logistical difficulty associated with making it happen is much lower than we are used to for this campaign. And I think this matters.
Moreover these wide-open spaces were shot with wide framing to accommodate the large number of people that were participating.
There is no wide framing in the Royal Wedding ad.
This makes it feel slightly cheap (production budget dictated by the fact that it is “only” an online film rather than a TV ad?).
But it also makes it feel very different and, for me, off brand.
There are far fewer people involved.
And those few people feel like they are acting rather than participating.
The ad has a kind of spontaneity and joie de vivre. But it’s rehearsed spontaneity and joy. And as a result the ad lacks the genuine, collaborative, anarchic vibe of its predecessors.
The Wikipedia definition of flash mob rules includes the word “sudden”.
There was a sudden-ness to the previous T-Mobile ads that is missing from the Royal Wedding execution. And I think that sense of the sudden is a big part of T-Mobile’s vibe.
(I should have added “sudden” to my scribbled list of values.)
Campaign vibes are precious, fragile and important.
So my overall verdict is that it’s a bloody good (one-off) ad, but I’m not so sure that it’s a bloody good addition to the T-Mobile campaign.
And here it is…