Google demonstrates the power of TV via Gogglebox

30 Oct 2017  |  Dominic Mills 
Google demonstrates the power of TV via Gogglebox

There's so much to say about Google's wildly post-modern TV ad, writes Dominic Mills. Plus: A stat to stop you in your tracks, and the earliest-ever sighting of a Christmas ad

For all the efforts of YouTube to siphon off TV budgets, the actions of its parent Google sometimes suggest it doesn’t totally agree.

For those of you who missed it, I’m referring to Google’s break-hogging ad in the first break of C4’s Gogglebox last Friday night, all three minutes and 40 seconds of it, which was followed up by a mini-blitzkrieg on ITV over the weekend during X-Factor.

You can see the C4 monster ad here if you choose, but I’ll save you the bother - interest-wise it drops like a stone off a cliff about half-way through - by describing it.

The ad features various members of the Gogglebox cast - the Malones, the Siddiquis and Leeds sisters Ellie and Izzie - watching a giraffe give birth on The Secret Life of the Zoo documentary.

As the ad unfolds - pay attention at the back - they ask various questions and the handily placed Google Home device answers them.

Bloody hell. This feels like the ultimate in post-modernism. Here we have a TV show about people watching TV (and I love it. Gogglebox is appointment viewing in the Mills household). Then the same people feature in an ad, the conceit of which is that they’re watching more TV and behaving exactly as they do in the show. How many more layers can you get?

The ad itself has been much commented on, but not favourably, as The Sun lost no time pointing out. Check it out on Twitter too, where ‘Inspector Morose’ led the way in his condemnation of C4. But then what else would you expect from someone who styles themselves that way.

I’m not sure what I think about this. We’ve seen the Gogglebox cast used before in ads, for example for Kelloggs. So this is not particularly innovative.

But in this case it feels as though the divisions between church and state that one might expect to see - or perhaps it’s just me taking an old-fashioned view - are being chipped away.

Stepping back, it seems that Google has also inadvertently reminded the advertising community - insofar as this relates to its grab for TV money - of the role of TV.

Google Home is a big statement product (although it feels me-too compared to Echo) that requires a statement launch. Ergo, prime-time, national TV. You want instant, simultaneous, reach and fame? Bang. You go on TV.

If you want something else, you go on YouTube or Facebook. The two media - broadcast and VOD - are complementary, each good at different things.

Yet YouTube, when it chases after TV money, seems unwilling or unable to concede that it might have a different role to TV.

Of course one could also point out a few other things you get on TV: sound-on; (mostly) a big screen; instant social media pick-up; no made-up audience numbers; no fraud, ad blocking and so on.

A TV stat to stop you in your tracks

This stat from Enders analysis, published last week as part of a report looking at the upcoming round of Premier League bids, caught my eye: multi-channel broadcasters like Sky and BT spend 66% of their content budgets on sports rights, but they account for only 8% of viewing.

Phew. That is some discrepancy. Does that mean then that a sports audience is worth eight times its size (i.e. 8 x 8 = 64)? And that other audiences, by extension, are worth less.

Obviously, calculations for rights bids won’t be nearly so back-of-the-envelope, but nevertheless there must be some attempt to quantify the additional value that a sports audience brings.

Unless, of course, you subscribe to the view that bidding for sports rights is a testosterone contest by another name. We shall see with the next round of Premier League bidding. I suspect that, where BT’s initial attack on sports a few years ago was in part a vanity play, sanity will prevail this time round.

Oak Furniture Land takes the Xmas battle to John Lewis...(well, it tries, anyway)

There are quarters of adland where breathless anticipation about the John Lewis Christmas ad is already taking hold - could it star a furry monster? - and even OK! magazine is speculating about the music (Daft Punk, apparently).

But I can report that Oak Furniture Land is way ahead of the game, because I’ve already seen its Christmas ad. So...before even Halloween has been and gone. The leaves are still on the trees. We haven’t even switched the heating on.

This could be a record earliest-ever sighting of a Christmas ad. I am suffering seasonal dyslexia already.

The ad? Well, it warns households that unexpected Christmas guests could cause embarrassment if you’ve got nowhere for them to sit or your dining table isn’t big enough. The shame. The mortification. So order it now.

Of course, there’s a business logic to it, what with long lead times for manufacture and delivery, so I understand the rationale.

There won’t be tremors at John Lewis HQ, but what if other retailers start copying OFL? Christmas ads before half-term, before the new-school year, before...it doesn’t bear thinking about.

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