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Opinion: Why do bad ads grab more eyeballs than the good ones?

With Chinese New Year around the corner, brands across Malaysia are on their toes conceptualising a perfect campaign for the festive season.  Amidst the frenzy this festive season, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia posted a video on its Facebook page.

For those of you who don’t know it, or haven’t had time to view it, it basically follows conversations of couples in Mercedes-Benz cars around CNY. The first spot depicted a couple talking about the protagonist’s estranged relationship with his brother (sounds touching right? Well, it is not!). The second spot just talks about random of topics- really.

To cut the story short, both spots were criticised heavily for the content of these conversations, production and all around “meaningless”-ness.

At around the same time, Maxis too launched a short film about long-lost siblings who search for each other with the help of technology and live videos. Inspired by true stories, the film titled “The 50-year Promise” hopes to encourage Malaysians to reconnect, reunite and capture lost years with family and friends this CNY, no matter how far apart or how long they’ve not seen each other, by using the Internet.

“Beautiful”, “best ad”, “touching” and more are some of the words that were used by YouTube viewers to describe this video. The video was noticed to have more than 107,791 views on YouTube at the time of writing too.

While we are on team Maxis in this instance, for the emotional connection and overall meaningfulness of the CNY ad, clearly the ad by Mercedes-Benz spot garnered more attention. The likes, shares and comments on the video on Facebook has skyrocketed and A+M’s own in-house analytics too reveal high and frequent click rates for the Mercedes-Benz story.

In fact, quick-witted ad agencies such as Ensemble (who also created the Maxis ad) have created a spoof version of the Mercedes-Benz spot. When reached out to by A+M, Amit Sutha, managing director of Ensemble Worldwide and UM Worldwide said: “Trolls and opinions are the reality of business today. It is a tough game to be in. This is our way of supporting everyone in the advertising industry.”

But why did an add with a seemingly poorer production value, do so much better than one with an actual story to tell?

Sutha added at the end of the day, the reality is,

An ad is only bad if it never gets noticed.

He added: “People will always react in some way with a good ad. The video by Mercedes-Benz got noticed. Whether it’s on point for the brand or not is another matter. Only time will tell.”

One creative head at an agency said simply said this is because people always talk about the wrong, more than the right. As such, the video by Mercedes-Benz gained popularity because of sheer luck. He said that while the video by Maxis got the basics right to connect with the audience, he termed it as “predictable”. This in turn, he added, did not trigger anything new in the audience’s mind unlike the Mercedes-Benz video which was “different”.

Maxis’ video is a blind spot as the concept has been utilised before.

Another creative head from the industry said,  the Mercedes-Benz video has received flak for its “production quality” rather than content. As such, if the video had been produced by another other brand, audiences would have passed it off. The brand’s luxury image did not work in its favour when it comes down to the response.”

As for Maxis,  he said: “Maxis created an emotional ad with a story which connects with the audiences. There is no doubt that every brand wants that”. But he added,

The reason why the Maxis ad did not grab enough attention is the lack of controversy.

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