All Things Creative

Date: 26 May, 2020

Desperate times call for Desperate Housewives – Why it’s time we fell in love again with the humble demo ad.



Alan Kelly

By Alan Kelly

Chief Creative Officer
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The biggest issue of lockdown? Roots! This week I dyed my poor wife’s hair for the first time and God-damn it I totally nailed it. And it’s all thanks to TV's Eva Longoria.

Eva is missing her salon while isolating at home with her family. So this week, the star shared one of her hair hacks with fans on social media. The Desperate Housewives star posted a video on Instagram revealing her secret for covering up grey roots during lockdown, giving fans a sneak peek into her isolation beauty routine. Eva showed off the product she's currently using to conceal her grey hairs at home. It’s L’Oreal’s Magic Retouch Temporary Instant Root Concealer spray if you’re interested. Now, while I used a more permanent solution on my poor Aileen, I feel Longoria’s breezy attitude towards hair maintenance gave me the necessary confidence any bloke needs when forced into this situation.

Bourne again advertising.

This was a big step change for me, but an even bigger one for L’Oreal. Before Covid, L’Oreal had spent years churning out bore spots featuring supermodels prancing around in slow-motion swirling their hair in circles and being generally delighted with themselves. But was anyone fooled by this bland crap? Did anyone seriously believe there wasn’t an army of hairdressers and re-touchers just off camera ready to make sure the hair was absolutely perfect? In the future, if we are going to pay a celeb a small fortune to appear in a campaign – let’s get them to do something believable.

I’m pretty sure the shot of Matt Damon in real-life with the Supervalu bag has done more for Dalkey retailers than all those awful multi-million dollar budget airport ads did for Omega watches. (I just googled it and Matt has never done an ad for Omega, he has only done terrible airport ads for Tag Heuer. Getting the brand name wrong makes the millions spent on these awful posters even worse).

Time to face your demos.

Here’s the thing, sometimes nothing is as effective at evoking an emotional response than a rational message. Telling engaging yet useful product stories gives brands the ability to narrate exactly why their products will enhance a customer’s life, and a collection of these true stories can therefore strengthen the overall brand as each product story comes together to demonstrate how a company believably has the user front of mind.

Still, there are demo ads and demo ads. Here’s some of the best - Apple is a good example. Pretty much every Apple ad is a demo ad. Their 2018 ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign elevates user’s photos to gallery status, and projects a powerful vision of what can be done with the device. Volvo’s ‘Epic Split’ was one of the most talked about ads of 2013 and Burger King’s genius demo stunt which prompted Google Home voice-activated speakers to start reading descriptions of the Whopper snagged the Direct Grand Prix at Cannes in 2017. These examples show that demo ads can be creatively challenging and don't need to compromise on imagination. In many ways, the restrictions of a demo ad strike an intriguing balance for a creative: tight enough to focus the mind, challenging enough to excite the mind.

Not just a flash in the pan.

These last few months have forced us all to face our own personal Eva Longoria moment - whether that’s making bread or considering trying wallpapering for the first time (I’m seriously considering it!) This Covid time has given us all that little bit of space to try the things we would have previously run a mile from. And if a brand can make that experience easier by being useful…well I might just remember them fondly when this is all over.

The bigger truth in all this is that every experience we have with a brand, good or bad, is a demo ad these days. Jamie Oliver’s app, articles, face on a jar. Each video in his ‘Keep Cooking & Carry On’ snippet series, every interview, banana bread insta story – they are all demo ads for Brand Jamie and the terrifying reality is that if even one of those touch-points disappoints, well, we might all just move on to Brand Nigella or Brand Gordon.

Long live L’Ongoria.

Anyway, back to L’Oreal - I love this simple lockdown video. It’s completely, brilliantly believable - you have a Hollywood actress cocooning at home having to do her own hair with no army of hairdressers waiting in the wings. If she can do it, so can I. And I did! Right now we all need something to believe in…even if it’s hair dye. Believability and being useful has made L’Oreal much, much better than before. That’s why you can no longer buy Magic Retouch Temporary Instant Root Concealer spray online. It’s completely sold out worldwide. I just checked.

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