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About that Ariel advert starring Noeleen...

The new Ariel washing powder TV advert starring Noeleen Maholwane-Sangqu has been bugging me...

The advertising industry spends a lot of client's money trying to convince consumers, through their concepts, to buy their product because it's better than the competitors are for various reasons. Procter and Gamble has really spent bucket loads of budget into their new product in the market Ariel, which is giving their competitor a run for share of profit. I even heard radio adverts that Omo has done that ridicule the product Ariel itself. Well, I guess that's just the name of the game, it's called protecting your turf.

This new Ariel washing powder TV advert starring Noeleen Maholwane-Sangqu has been bugging me since the advert started flighting. I am actually perturbed by the quality of the sound (voice-over) of the TV advert, it sounds very amateurish.

If you listen closely, there are three various modes of sound. The first one is loud and audible when Noeleen introduces the product, then when it cuts away to the scientist in the lab, the sound is a bit muffled and low in tone inconsistent to the sound in the intro, and at the end, the voice-over is also different. Therefore, there are three voice-over artists, three sequences, frequencies and syncopation of sound. I think that's terrible.

Keep it all together

To ensure consistency, the production of the recording of the final voice-over should at least be done on the same day. It doesn't matter how many voice-over artists need to narrate various lines, as this guarantees quality of sound at postproduction. Even the grading of the TV ad is not consistent. Now in this Ariel ad, it feels as though the voice-overs were recorded on different days, like Noeleen's voice was recorded on Friday (perhaps after a glass of wine) as she sounds cheerful and audible, the scientist in the lab sounds like he was recorded on Monday morning in some dingy secluded warehouse after about 80 takes, with no enthusiasm at all, and the voice-over at the end was just thrown in there to create some balance, or imbalance perhaps!... I'm shaking my head.

A better way to do it...

Noeleen could have done a better job doing voice-over for the entire advert from beginning to end, recorded on the same day, same syncopation and editing of the voice imperfections to make it sound perfect and flawless, like they do in post-production.

Where was client at the approval stage of off-line and on-line editing? I wonder. In as much as I want to have a go at the production company and the advertising agency, client also plays a huge role in the approval and finalisation of the advert prior to flighting. In this instance, it takes three to tango (maybe that explains the flaw).

I also want to question the concept of this new P&G brand: Why didn't the agency come up with a new concept, as opposed to a laboratory ad format one that imitates the competitors' way of communication. Every advert Ariel made imitates the way its competitors sell their brand to consumers.

What Waldo said

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator something else is natural and bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's". It's been very long time since he said that, but it is still so relevant.

Now you don't want your product and work to be described as such. Be an inventor of new concepts, not an imitator, lest you bereave yourself in your own credibility!

I imagine that Ariel is a very important brand for P&G, which is aimed at giving Omo a run for its money, and all the money that went into advertising to ensure that it delivers a quality product to the potential consumer, should demonstrate respect and seriousness of the brand for the consumer they targeting.

The other day, I was buying groceries including detergents, and when I saw Ariel and thought of the advert. It turned me off and I stuck to the usual brand. Okay, don't worry, I am one in a million, so you not losing anything. I'm just a critical ex-advertising executive/consumer, who takes branding and communication seriously.

It has to be perfect... Every time, everywhere, in every way

I really feel the production company failed the client by not paying attention to detail and doing a shoddy job on this one advert. If a competitor comes into the market, everything must be perfect from the packaging to consumer advert, out of respect for the consumer (and client as well). Last-minute quick overnight jobs show, especially when attention to detail was not paid in the making of the advert. Omo's adverts have a certain look and feel, grading, voice-over and consistency throughout all its different ads. If you have to attack competition, either match or exceed expectations and pitch the product at a higher level. To do such an injustice to that voice-over sound for a new brand in the market hugely diminishes the brand essence it wants to build.

Don't fret though, I am probably the only person who picked up the discrepancy of the sound on the current Ariel advert because I am very particular on how new brands are positioned and critical of any work I deem mediocre that comes of the ad industry. For a new brand everything needs to be perfect from head to toe (in this instance from client's brief to flighting of the final advert), since this is a multi-million rand business and we talking about consumer money - but that's just my opinion.

About Bonnie Ramaila

Bonnie Ramaila is an international communication consultant. She previously worked in the private and public sector as a communication expert. She runs a consultancy that specialises in bespoke communication for niche clients and individuals. Services include communication and media advice, facilitation, publicity and strategy development. She writes in her personal capacity.
Read more: P&G, OMO, Ariel

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