Saturday, March 17, 2007 In Boiler Room | trackback

Crap: what sets it apart

Break down of Dove's Evolution

The industry of advertising and promotion is such an exciting and overwhelming industry, you tend to have a favorite commercial even with the abundance of crap material. We must have been created with the ability to promote as much as deceive. Today, I am breaking down a single ad of my favorites played recently on TV, and try to figure out why it is so successful, and what sets it apart from the rest of crap.


If you watch MBC channels or ONE TV on a regular basis (in other words, if you live in Amman), then you probably watched this new Dove spot – Evolution. Driving any more attention to this silly industry of beauty-making is not within my intentions, but this spot is one of the best commercials I have ever seen on TV (next to Hummer Little Monster).

The entrance of the ad is a bit dull; you almost always miss it, especially if this is the first commercial played in a break. It grabs attention when it starts to play faster. I would not be surprised if you have missed the whole ad first time it played. It is towards the end when you make a subconscious decision to pay attention earlier, next time. It took me three times! I personally do not think this is a failure on their part, but a massive success, because they made me stick to commercial break instead of switching away through my favorite’s list.

With the many little details to watch, there is always something new to catch. Fast forwarding instead of playing short clips adds a lot of anticipation, and sends your sub conscience to work.

Human nature in trying to absorb change compels us to watch carefully every time, with a childish effort to copy the first image in mind and try to recall it at the end of the commercial to see the difference. Of course, YouTube spoils all the fun.

The message displayed at the end (in the original ad played maybe six months ago) is: No wonder our perception of beauty is so distorted. The UAE-specific ad displays: Why is our perception of beauty so distorted? I personally find the former more powerful.

The choice of musical effects is a piece of art. It starts as the sound of tools around, and ends as a regular beat. Finally, it dies out in an artificial manner serving the purpose of the message at last.

The internet website of the campaign; the hell I care!

Driving Forces

From an industrial point of view, that commercial was a success. The idea behind it is really simple; the implementation, however, is humongous efforts. This brings me to the question; does a great idea with little money make a greater ad than a fair idea does with lots of money? My personal humble opinion is that a fair idea with lots of money makes a very lousy ad. Money tempts artists into taking extreme measures to make their ad more techy. It ends up like a sandwich of Twix and Mlookhieh! Hey, if you can afford both, why not?

Dove ad was definitely sitting on a great idea; simple and straight forward. Money however, made it happen. It could have been produced with less money but less impressive it would have come out.


The time the spot is played is so crucial to its effectiveness; this part below is my own judgement.

When you are watching suspense, action, drama, comedy, crime, or horror show (as opposed to Oprah and Dr Twisted Phil!); the worst time to play a short commercial would be right after the break is announced. Racing towards the remote control as soon as the break is announced (like I do), makes you think I am wrong, since that would be probably the only commercial you would see. But the truth is not so. Your brain would still be hanging on the last scene that you would not be aware commercial break has started. By the time you realize it, the spot is over, and you got your hands on the remote control.

If, however, you decide to fix a cup of coffee in between, the second spot is the luckiest.

The Dove commercial works because the middle is more intriguing than the beginning, and the end is very attractive. The ad is long enough it waits for your brain power to come out of suspension. Unfortunately, if it comes second, you would be long gone.

A commercial played fifth, or seventh has better options, because it can catch you while switching back and forth between channels waiting for your show to come back from commercials. If played for the first time, it can easily trick you into tuning in, unless it’s a new Soap ad (kollo 3ind el 3arab saboon).

TV broadcasters usually play a small segment in between the commercials to announce soon-to-come-back from commercials. If you mistaken those segments to be real come-backs, they might just catch you with another ad! This time, your brain power is fully functioning, and you are too tired to switch away.

In conclusion, the best time to play a spot is within the same segment a great spot like Dove’s is meant to be played! You would not risk switching away hoping to catch a new scene of your favorite ad. Life sucks!


It is a pity that this great ad is meant to divulge and distort the perception of beauty even further! We are far too experienced with the beauty business to fall for this one. I don’t think that Dove wants women to feel good about how they look already; they wouldn’t need Dove for that! The idea is to make them purchase their products to make them –supposedly, more beautiful. Otherwise, what’s the point?

I personally never memorize the name of the shampoo I use! I just pick the right color of package, which has the word SHAMPOO bigger than the trade name.

“ma kolhom zay ba3ad ya mama!” “They are all the same mama!” This was a line in a Dittol spot back in the days. That probably was the only true statement every spoken on television. It just amazes me, what were they thinking when they let that ad pass? But then it came down to me: has it not been for that “truth-telling” line, nobody would have ever paid attention to the ad. In any case, I don’t believe Dittol were that smart, they were lucky rookies!

Evolution was produced by Ogilvy and Mather – Toronto. Creative director: Janet Kestin, art director: Tim Piper.


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