While waiting for a train to depart, I spotted an ad for the new Michael Buble album. Is he trying to emulate the most perfect luxury goods ad in existence?
Have a look at the two images next to each other:
Without wishing to teach anyone to suck eggs, let’s look at the points of similarity:
1) Both images have snow both in and out of focus (unsurprising, both were used around Christmas time)
2) Both images feature a man, and a man on an outside staircase for that matter
3) Both images feature a wrapped box held behind the man’s back
4) Both images imply that a present is about to be given to someone unsuspecting (hence holding the box behind the back, obscuring it from the view of anyone behind the door/on the staircase).
Those points are fairly obvious, and you can see why I immediately jumped to the Tiffany’s ad on seeing the Buble offering.
Why is the Tiffany’s ad so perfect?
I was discussing this some time back with Anne Thistleton (of Monitor and who introduced me to the image in the first place).
On seeing the Tiffany’s ad, as the viewer, we are instantly able to put ourselves in one of two positions:
1) The position of the recipient. The man at the door is possibly someone we’re waiting for and expecting. Maybe because we’re going on a night out or because he’s home for the holidays. We are excited by the anticipation of his arrival and can imagine running down the house corridor to answer his knock at the door.
But we don’t expect the gift that he’s holding and obscuring from our view. As the viewer, we can imagine our surprise and delight at not only seeing someone we’re waiting for, but at the giving of an unexpected gift.
2) The position of the giver. From this view point, we’re excited because we have got something to give the person who opens the door. It’s something that we’ve chosen for her (him?) ourselves because we think that she’ll love it. We’ve poured our emotions for the other person into this gift. We anticipate her surprise and delight at getting it, unwrapping it and then wearing it.
These factors, and the numerous other extrapolations that can be made from the image, are why I think this is one of the most perfect luxury goods print executions ever.
We don’t need to see the faces of either character (giver or the absentee recipient) to form a link. Intuitively, we understand and relate.
This is what I believe the Buble ad creators wanted. However, they’ve fallen short.
And they have stumbled for the following reasons:
1) We know what’s in the gift. It’s a Michael Buble poster after all. Having said that, it’s a bit big for a CD. Perhaps it’s the DVD version (my, haven’t we splashed out).
2) You’re giving the gift – not Buble. Of course, if you have a lot of cash, you could probably get him to hand deliver the CD for you. But the Buble poster puts you on the outside of the action, rather than within it.
3) Buble is looking off to the right. There’s a lot of information on the net about body language and how to tell if someone is lying. Unfortunately for Buble, it appears that people looking off to the right are accessing the fabrication part of their brain. My take on the poster is that the head/eye position isn’t one of trust.
4) Looking backwards as opposed to forwards. In the Tiffany’s ad, the man is looking forwards. Literally. Buble however is glancing over his shoulder at what’s behind him. OK so we need to see his face (it is his album, don’t forget) but this simple piece of body language speaks volumes to me about the interpretation of the ad. Why does the giver look away from the location of the recipient, unless they’re planning a speedy exit route from the situation?
5) And finally… The biggest difference between the two images is how you know what they’re for. Tiffany’s is restrained and, I don’t believe, carried much branding on the print execution. All of the recognition focuses on the brand image conjured up by the box. Buble meanwhile batters you around the skull. Just in case you weren’t sure who he was or what he might be trying to sell you.
While we might believe and trust the Tiffany’s man, Buble just doesn’t quite match up.
Were the adverts ever meant to be consumed in juxtaposition? Probably not – but I can guarantee that I’m not the only one to have seen the similarity.
It is true to say that one execution holds emotional resonance. The other doesn’t. And at a time when we’re giving gifts to reconfirm our connection to, and bond with, our loved ones, a little bit of emotional resonance can go a long way…