Inspiration

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Pie in the sky. A memorable campaign from the pre-digital age.

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As a technologically advanced species, we've achieved a great deal. After all, you don't see hamsters riding micro-scooters, or otters designing iPhone apps. But we do have a tendency to overcomplicate things. Recent months have seen new versions of Tweetdeck (for the uninitiated, a piece of Twitter management kit ) and Gmail (you know what Gmail is). By general consensus both products are significantly inferior to their predecessors. New 'features' merely confuse the user experience and many changes appear to have been introduced simply for their own sake. Meanwhile, it is a universal truth that iTunes not only gets worse with every update, but new versions seem to be unleashed on an hourly basis.

And so it is with advertising. Where once we would be satisfied with a handful of nicely written press ads or a nifty little radio script, now we are compelled to explore 'social platforms', YouTube channels, cross-branding opportunities and so on.

These are not necessarily bad things, just new things, new and rather complicated.  So, now and again, it's wonderfully refreshing to be reminded of work which, although unsophisticated, was probably quite effective.

On Twitter, @sathnam has been posting a collection of ads that I recall very clearly (possibly because I have spent far too much time in fish and chip shops). Admittedly, they do have a certain oddness about them, as well as being amusingly tacky. Almost all advertising, when viewed in hindsight and disconnected from their era, takes on a strangeness - and we should never forget that the campaigns we admire today will undoubtedly be mocked in the decades to come. But this work for Pukka Pies was quite unusual, even at the time. Which was probably the point.

It's hard to imagine the creative team and photographer were blissfully unaware of the comical nature of the ads and the bizarre nature of the scenes they were portraying. Surely a healthy dose of irony is being employed? We can't be sure (unless someone involved is reading, in which case please get in touch and tell us) and in truth, it doesn't matter. The food looks terrific and, as the posters appeared in the outlets selling the pies, I'd guess they worked very well. Indeed, just looking at them now makes me fancy pie and chips for my dinner.

So, by all means enjoy the daftness of the art direction and the 'inappropriate' photography all over again. Although, while you're allowing yourself a grin and a shake of the head, don't forget the intention: to make punters look at the posters and order a pie instead of a haddock or a sausage. And to do so on a limited budget and without the benefit of digital media, viral videos, tweets or pokes. With a bit of luck, you'll grant the campaign some kudos, acknowledge the enormous volume of forgettable advertising we encounter every day and admire the cheek and off-beat wit in this work.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Pukka Pies in-store poster campaign: 

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Magnus Shaw is a writer, blogger and broadcaster

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