So, where do I find the dancing pony and cat-dog on the Chinese Zodiac?

In the blue corner: The o2 cat-dog:

Ever since watching o2’s ‘Be more dog’ ad from VCCP when it came out last month, I have been engaging in a bit of metaphorical chin-stroking. I like cats, I thought to myself, and dogs, surely this is the perfect ad for me? A cat-dog sounds like great fun and if someone out there started a breeding program I’d probably be the first to sign up.  Why then, did I just not like it much?

I was impressed by the CGI and I enjoyed the script but I didn’t have a particularly strong reaction either way. I was left trying to work out how I felt about the ad, and why considering it is such a big, well-publicised campaign, it has left me a tad underwhelmed.

In the red corner: Three’s dancing pony:

Let’s compare it then, to that other phone ad with a CGI animal that, given its ecstatic reception from marketers earlier this year, must surely be a national treasure by now… On watching W+K’s Three ad I had that simple and instant recognition that I’d seen a great ad. Why did I think that? Initially, probably just because I’d genuinely enjoyed it and it made me smile, but I think there’s more to it than that.

What’s the brief?

Onto the campaign taglines and how they reflect each brief. Three’s ‘Silly stuff matters’ with the implication that the silly stuff we do on the internet, YouTubing, cat videos galore, candy crush and so on, matters. The tagline and the ad wholly match up, as what could possibly be more silly than a pony moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac that you can make up your own remixes for online? It reaffirms Three’s brand identity as the go-to ‘internet’ network with the message “we get what the internet is about and we’re best equipped to keep you online.”

What about o2? The brief was to show o2 as the network that is addressing new technology, i.e. 4G, before other networks and in turn, to encourage customers to change their phone-based behaviour and embrace this technology. Isn’t it a better campaign strategically speaking, even creatively? The interpretation of the brief was certainly not predictable. There’s also no denying that they are spot on with the feline character. Any cat-lover knows only too well how inferior they are in the eyes of their cat and that indeed, they are lucky to be allowed to share their residence with a feline.

I think what it comes down to is that the Three ad is a much simpler concept and understands what it is, namely a bit of fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously and in doing so it succeeds in having a genuine reaction from its audience. The o2 ad on the other hand, and the integrated campaign that has since been rolled out pretty much everywhere is just a bit…much. 

It’s as if it’s taking all that fun and silliness from Three and turning it into something a bit more like work. The concept of the ad may still be silly, but it seems that o2 thinks ‘being more dog’ is rather serious business. But it’s not really is it? It’s as ridiculous as dancing ponies and perhaps that makes the o2 campaign less sincere and why for me it ultimately falls short.

Thoughts on both campaigns people? Am I just stangely biased towards dancing ponies? Anyway, I cant help but wonder what CGI-based animal tomfoolery Vodafone will undoubtedly come up with next…

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