Thursday, June 5, 2008

Does 'Gruen' deliver?

Lots has been written about the new ABC show, The Gruen Transfer. It rated almost 1.3m last night - not too shabby at all.

I found Wednesdays episode a little laboured to be honest. It feels at times the purpose of the show has shifted ... and now the aim is to be as funny as the rapid pace editing allows you to be with a quick one liner.

It also irks me that the host, Wil Anderson, seems to want to have the last say with a not so impromptu zinger.

There can be no denying that the ad execs featured know their stuff - but I don't feel Gruen is doing the industry justice.

Lets look at 'Gruens' initial pitch and see whether it's delivering on brief eh ...

"The Gruen Transfer (TGT) is a show about advertising, how it works, and how it works on us. Hosted by the inimitable Wil Anderson, TGT will decode and defuse the commercial messages that swirl through our lives, with the help of a panel of ad industry experts."

Are we seeing 'How advertising works' and 'how it works on us'. I'd say no ... Is Wil Anderson 'inimitable' ... well, I guess this is spin so it doesn't matter. Has it helped decode/defuse any commercial messages tone? Debateable.

Each week, Wil is joined by some of the best and brightest minds of the advertising industry, experts prepared to share the ideas and insights that drive them.

This is where it's disappointing. The level of insight is minimal at best. It makes advertising seem like a mix of guessing games and amateur stand up.

Guests on the program face a series of challenges designed to show the thought processes - and, often, the brilliance - of advertising, as well as its understanding of who we are and what we want. Each week we examine the tactics used to sell a particular product; it could be cars or chocolate or cleaning products.

Thought processes? Errrrm ... consumer understanding. Ermmmm ... Tactical executions ... errmm. I guess this doesn't rate as it's not being shown ... maybe it's on the cutting room floor?

In a segment called 'The Pitch', agencies compete to fulfill an impossible brief. For example, 'make Brendan Nelson a winner'. Elsewhere, 'Consumer's Revenge' allows our audience to participate in the show by making their own ads on this website. The best ads will be played during the show.

I find 'The Pitch' exciting viewing but can't say many of the responses have really been on brief. They are funny though, but generally humour isn't an indication of a successful campaign.

So what is Gruen missing? It's missing the art of consumer insight ... it paints advertising practicioners as wannabe comedians who rely on anecdotal insights and sample size of 1 decision making. There is also zero attention paid to the other elements of advertising communications. No reference to media, BTL ... only creative. And, most interestingly, the focus is still on TVCs ... and there's been zero comment so far about emerging mediums and executions, in particular digital.

Yes, I am aware that the Gruen Transfer could become the 'Insomnia cure' if it was bogged down by 15 min channel planning modelling and analytics ... but surely there's a happy medium. Gruen isn't decoding the Ad Industry - it's reinforcing every cliche that makes it the butt of jokes on The Simpsons (see Mr. Plow episode).

No comments: