Orchids and Onions – Pet advice in smart packaging

Ford’s video/ad featuring a cute dachshund gets an Orchid, while North West University shows big-city campuses are not the be-all and end-all of the creative world.

I love cars. But I also love animals. As long as I can remember we’ve had a dog or cat (or both) in the house. At times, though, you do feel torn between the vehicle and the animal.

Such as when the lovely silver bumper of my Subaru displayed deep scratches of the kind which you cannot polish out. Well, if you want to put the dogs in the car to take them to a local park for “walkies”, what do you expect, I hear you say.

I’ve thought about getting a rubber cover for the bumper but reckon the dogs won’t be around forever and the graffiti they have left behind might be a little reminder of them. I seldom transport them in the car anymore, though, because they tend to start fights with other dogs there.

But, there is something warm and comforting about that dank dog breath and the curious eyes peering out of the back window. The world’s that little better for having a dog.

Dogs and cars are part of our suburban life. That’s something Ford’s “central creative factory” (yes, they really call it that) people have latched on to in a video they have been flighting on social media.

It’s not your normal, cute dogs and cute cars go together-type ad. Subaru did one of those in the States years ago, after realising their target market loves dogs.

The Ford video/ad is, and can be viewed as, a public service announcement but at the same time it markets the brand’s Ecosport small family SUV.

The video is a series of tips about safe travelling with your doggy companions – everything from ensuring they are secured with a harness in the back seat, to leaving the windows closed (or only slightly down), to warning never to leave your animal alone in a parked car.

While the focus is on a cute dachshund, the car remains in the background. You still cannot help notice things like the leather seats, electric windows and stylish alloy wheels.

It’s subtle, but effective. And food for thought, even if you’re not driving or about to buy a Ford.

On the other hand, you just may remember, in a good way, the brand which brought these things to your attention.

So Orchids to Ford and its “central creative factory”.

So, did the earth move for you advertising people when the annual Loeries advertising awards were held in Durbs last weekend?

It didn’t for me. Maybe that’s because the awards (all 900 plus of them, including finalists) now seem as overstocked as a hypermarket – and maybe that’s because they are now open to agencies from outside South Africa, including the Middle East.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to be xenophobic. It’s just that the best of local advertising has always done things in a uniquely South African way.

I wonder if the presence of foreign entries and judges may be diluting this unique local flavour.

On the other hand, quantity doesn’t always go hand in hand with quality and at this year’s Loeries I saw little that really excited me from local agencies.

A lot of the work which won awards would not get a foot through the Orchids and Onions door. That’s not to be arrogant, it’s just to say I try to look at ads from the perspective of real, ordinary people.

A few were encouraging.

Like the Gold Loeries in the student category, won by students at the North West University (NWU). It’s good to see this “diversification” of training and talent incubators and shows big-city campuses (and big cities generally) are not the be-all and end-all of the creative world.

So, in addition to your Gold Loeries for design, Johanné Venter-Genis and Clarise Benadé, you get an Orchid from me.

I think your graphic design department at the NWU School of Communication – chaired by Marina Herbst – also deserves one.

So, if you need talented people or are thinking of getting your school leaver a useful education in the art of communication, don’t forget about the platteland.

Brendan Seery.

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