Villing & Company

Something Familiar, Something Peculiar: Reflections on Creativity in TV Advertising

Sometimes, there's just no escape. Last night I was mindlessly watching a little television, a guilty pleasure I haven't had much time for lately. But during one of the breaks, a spot came on from one of my favorite all-time campaigns, Pure Michigan. I've commented on this campaign before. I believe it is one of the most smartly executed campaigns I've ever seen. I just love the way Tim Allen voices the poetic style of each and every script in the series.

Less than two minutes later, another spot came on. For a split second, I thought it was from the Michigan campaign as well. Then I realized it was for Illinois tourism. Same style of videography. Same easy cadence. Voiceover talent that sounded suspiciously like Tim Allen.

Pure ripoff.

We've all heard the expression, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I suppose there is an element of truth there. Personally, I think that is being too kind to the perpetrator. At the very least, it shows a distinct lack of creativity. At worst, it is grand theft of intellectual property.

It would be one thing to try to apply some of the elements of a good campaign to another product in another industry. I'm sure I have been guilty of that myself on occasion. But to virtually duplicate the same idea and style of a campaign for a competitive product in the same market is just wrong. Sorry, Illinois. I love your state, but you've devalued your brand substantially. At least in my opinion.


Speaking of TV advertising creativity, I would like to give a shout-out to some very positive examples I've seen lately. Commercials in which the creative spark is very much alive and well.

John Gregg for Governor: Creativity and political advertising are seldom used in the same sentence, but I like the novelty and humor of Gregg's campaign. He appears to be an underdog in this race and, like any advertiser who has less resources, he has to be smarter with the use of his advertising dollars. And, while his opponent, Mike Pence follows a more traditional formula for his advertising, I have to give both of them credit for avoiding the mud-slinging and mean-spiritedness we see in most political campaigns these days.

Shangri-La Hotels: Putting wolves into a commercial for a hotel chain is about as improbable as the aforementioned creativity and political advertising, but in this case, it really works. In all likelihood, most of you haven't seen this spot, so I won't give away too much here. You need to view it for yourself. Suffice it to say, I'll be surprised if you don't have the same reaction to it that I did. In fairness, it's a lot easier to tell a good story in three minutes than the classic thirty seconds, but even with that advantage, you have to applaud the creativity.

Bud Light "Very Superstitious": Long ago I accepted that I don't fit the demographic profile that most beer marketers are looking to reach. So I don't often care much for beer advertising (except for the wonderful Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man" campaign). But this Bud Light spot has a visual and verbal spark that I believe most every sports fan can relate to. At least I did.

Filed Under: advertising

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