I write this whilst gazing out of my apartment’s living room window. The view, to be honest, isn’t great. A car park. And beyond that, the shimmering smog of City Road, London. If that wasn’t bad enough, this distinctly unimpressive vista is partially interrupted by the back of a 48-sheet poster hoarding. Things could of course be worse. At least I don’t have to look at the front. Such is the woeful state of most poster advertising.
There’s been a lot of talk about digital ad blockers recently. Personally, I’m all in favour. If advertisers choose to inflict crap on us, and media owners let them, then what on earth do they expect? If only there was an analogue equivalent for my local poster problem. Actually, I suppose there is. A tin of paraffin and a box of matches should do the trick. I swear there have been moments when I’ve been sorely tempted. Yes, I’m talking about you Sky, British Gas, Nissan, Sony, BT, Renault, ITV, Vodafone, Jaguar, Samsung, Aquafresh, Toyota, O2, Lexus, Ford, etc etc etc. In the past 12 months, you have all inflicted 20ft × 10ft rectangles of inane, branded ugliness on the passers-by of City Road, London EC1. Why on earth would you and your ad agencies want to do that?
I’m pretty sure that ‘Get Londoners to totally ignore us’ was not the desired response on any of your creative briefs.
But just when we’re all about to entirely despair at the ad industry’s inexorable decline at the hands of the holding companies, something astoundingly brilliant appears. This month’s featured ad is wonderful on so many levels. It’s what all great posters are: simple, intelligent and beautiful.
It’s what all great posters are: simple, intelligent and beautiful.
This is a campaign for Randolph sunglasses. But of course you already knew that. Because the first thing you did when you turned the page was look at the striking picture. And then you read the word ‘Randolph’ (despite the fact that it’s printed backwards) because there’s no other word on there.
It reads backwards because of the creative idea of course. But doesn’t it make it really noticeable? Because it’s unusual. And we always notice and remember unusual things. It’s the way our brains are wired. So why do most ads all look the same?
The idea behind this campaign is about giving the viewer a glimpse into the world as seen through a Randolph lens. An excellent strategy since Randolph military spec aviators have been used by the US Air Force since the late 1970’s. Yep, ‘as used by the US Airforce’… it doesn’t get much more authentic than that. Pretty good credentials for toughness and quality I would argue. But why say it when you can show it? It seems to be impossible to win an advertising account these days without having to come up with a cringeworthy endline or even worse a stupid hashtag (that no one will ever use) which has to be plastered over everything like an ugly rash, creating needless clutter.
The creators of this campaign show us how it should be done. Less is more. Everything distilled into a single, powerful image. A brilliantly composed photograph of a soldier abseiling from an aircraft. As seen through a Randolph lens.
In the spirit of less is more, I have nothing else to add other than to say this really is truly great work. I shall be wearing Randolph shades as I abseil from the living room window of my apartment, clutching a can of paraffin.
Paul Belford is the founder of multi-award-winning advertising, branding, graphic design and digital agency Paul Belford Ltd, based in London. He tweets from @belford_paul and more of his work can be found at paulbelford.com