No Wonder Nobody’s Watching TV

By Scott Leonard

Just when you thought we’d seen all the repeats the channels had to offer, Kit Kat and Fruit Pastels recently repeated two of their iconic commercials from the 80s. Why? Could it be that all things 80s are cool right now, so why not literally bring back the eighties including the adverts? The youngest at Champion (18) didn’t realise they were even from the eighties and thought they were just ‘coolly’ styled. I watched them fondly recalling a childhood where sweets and snacks didn’t come with scary health warnings, basketball players told the truth about chewing sweets and strange looking men loitering around panda enclosures in trenchcoats were normal and posed no threat whatsoever.

From a marketers perspective running old creative is a saving of time, budget and effort with little risk if the commercial was liked. What does that mean to the agencies work that didn’t make it beyond the awkward boardroom conversation? Where everyone was told how much the new campaign was appreciated; “but we’re going with one of our old commercial from the eighties”. They even used the original slogan, questioning years of complex ‘brand positioning’ presentations and all those expensive off-site ‘brand interrogation’ workshops since the jingle was written. Does repeating these commercials bring into question the validity of over 30 years worth of ‘brand building’ for both Fruit Pastels and Kit Kat, or is this an example of a smart marketing vision that appeals to two audiences, one for their ‘cool’ the other their nostalgia?

For me, these repeated commercials raise serious questions about the very notion of how creative, or uncreative, traditional agencies are when work from the eighties is awarded Ad of the Day by the modern marketing and media magazine of the year. The big question I ask is: what precedent does it set for young creative talent starting out in the business? Especially when clients and industry alike praise and celebrate work from way before the day they were even born….


Scott Leonard of Champion