The visuals purport to graph attributes like "sweet/dreams" or "having your cake/eating it too," all done up in the cheeky style of a really bad Powerpoint presentation. Each graph is headed with abbreivatedenglish text bullets like you'd expect to see...a declarative word ("Expectation"), followed by a grammatically incorrect or incomplete phrase (like "So fresh. So clean"), and then a sub-bullet that tries to explain the nonsense it just followed.
I've seen this presentation before.
Lloyd: What Happened is a wickedly satirical novel published late last Century, in which the eponymous hero describes a year of his trials and tribulations in the corporate world via witty prose and hilariously awful slides:
- His expenditures on toys for his kids charted in bars against his disposable income
- A diagram, with bad clip art, illustrates how not to work a party
- A pie chart expresses his wife's diet as segments of salad, sweets, and white wine
It's a wonderful send-up of the faux clarity of corporate perspectives on reality. You know what I'm talking about...the bullets and graphics that make sense for a brief, shining moment when you first see them, if they ever do so at all, but then leave you bereft of understanding or empowerment the minute you leave the presentation room.
In the book, the graphics illustrate this disconnect between the fantasy realm of corporate strategies, and the real, messy, impossible-to-graph experience of our lives. Llyod is funny because we know exactly how he feels, even as the plot reveals his idiocy. A graph of how many drinks it takes to get him drunk is a hoot, just as the idea of graphing it -- and then, perhaps, trying somehow making sense of it -- is all too familiar to us.
In an ad, the approach doesn't quite work.
It's funny, I guess, but not really. It certainly doesn't make the message any more obvious for the nanosecond that my eyes gloss over it (I saw it in Wired, and the ad ran along the bottom of two pages, making it even easier to avoid altogether). It's tough to establish a connection between any ad and the abstract, virtual images of brands I supposedly carry around in my subconscious. This ad doesn't even try.
Further, I doubt many people will take the time to try and deconstruct it. There's no plot. No lovable loser character. The humor is just...humorless.
The one saving grace is that it ends with a pitch for testing BA's business class service, and lists a web site to register for some contest. So at least there's a behavioral call-to-action. Maybe BA can measure its branding by the number of people who find the site and provide their details.
It isn't likely, though, as the site requires visitors to register first for its frequent flyer club, and that involves at least a dozen fields of information. Talk about a double-whammy: an ad that makes no sense, and a web site that could be graphed as "time required to fill out form/people who will close the window with a haruuumph."
BA: What Happened?