By Fred Leo
Advertising itself is derivative in the sense that it takes its cues from our culture and from itself, so it’s not surprising that advertising executions can seem to imitate one another. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, so long as the creative device works.
Consider the TV technique I’ll call implied consensus. This is when you take a script and cut to different people in new environments repeating keywords.
MAN #1: I want a bank that understands where we are financially, a bank that “gets” my needs.
WOMAN #1 my needs.
MAN #2: my needs.
By following this format throughout, a spot achieves at least two critical goals — repetition of key copy points for better recall and a reassuring representation of agreement by our peers on the merits of what’s advertised.
So why not commandeer the technique yourself? Well, imitation of proven techniques is not all upside. It’s harder to seem original and there’s a danger of adding to that loathsome thing called clutter if you don’t “make it your own.”
So how do you wield that double-edged sword? Draw from proven techniques so long as it you can make it your own and put your own stamp on it.
To give a musical example, a band called Fountains of Wayne had a breakthrough CD a fews years back called “Welcome Interstate Managers.” In it, they mined songwriting styles of the BeaTles, the Cars, Simon & Garfunkel and others, but it wasn’t simply imitation. They advanced the pop music genre and themselves by building on what had come before.
Advertising can do the same.