Local advertising can't compete with Belgian clairvoyance: Nagy

By AdNews | 3 October 2012

Clemenger BBDO Sydney executive creative director Paul Nagy has argued the “cold message delivery” of some Aussie advertising could learn a thing or two from a Belgian initiative using clairvoyants and balaclava-wearing hackers.

Looking at a clever marketing push from Febelfin, the Belgian Financial Sector Federation, Nagy has drawn comparisons with the Australian marketing sector and suggested there is a great deal of room for improvement.

Nagy said: “I’m not a fan of clairvoyants. They pray on people’s hopes, fears and insecurities and offer snake oil ‘products’ without any consideration for the impact they have on those who believe their lies. (Wow… you could really draw some parallels to bad advertising there, but let’s not dwell on that.)

“This campaign highlights some of the tricks used by these con artists, and, through some neat theatre, makes a dramatic business case for being vigilant about your online banking security.

“Basically the idea revolves around dragging random people off the street into an elaborate white tent containing a ‘clairvoyant’. On film, each individual believes they are seeing the star of a new reality TV show ‘Dave’ who then goes on to read their minds, revealing more and more amazing and personal information until finally getting down to banking account numbers and transaction information.

“At this point a sheet falls down at the back of the tent revealing a team of balaclava-wearing hackers who have each person’s entire digital life on a bank of screens for all to see.

“It’s a simple idea, richly executed, and leaves me feeling two things acutely: the desire to share it; and a hollow kind of sadness that we don’t see more of this kind of advertising locally.

“Surely Australian culture offers one of the most fertile environments on earth in which to do business via storytelling. We love yarns. We have great imaginations and a famous sense of humour.

“Why then do we so often revert to cold message delivery in our ads?

“The creative team behind this, both agency and client side, took what could so easily have been a statistical scare campaign about online security (that no one would have noticed) and turned it into something you want to watch, want to share and won’t forget. It’s a brilliant effort, and I’ll bet they reap the rewards.

“Oh, and you will meet someone today who will offer a random opportunity to do something scary but amazing. Take it. It will change your life.”

Let us know what you think of the initiative in the comments below.

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