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Poetry in Advertising

When I was 7, or rather when I was one of the ages in an approximate three-year span that I refer to lazily as 7, I wrote a poem. I should make it clear at this point that said poem will not feature in this blog. It is lost to the hands of time. And it didn’t rhyme. That’s always been a problem of mine which, while hard to define, still plays on my mind. It was called A Recipe for Winter. Seen by many of my classmates as the pre-cursor and chief inspiration for A Game of Thrones, which was coincidentally* also written in 1996, my poem was more of a literal recipe. Essentially an exhaustive list of all of the things that I could think of that were associated with winter. However rather than simply transcribe this list, I chose to write it in the style of a recipe. “Toss in an unused ice cream van” was one obscure highlight that I remember. By stirring scarves, whipping wellies and mashing mittens I created a work that was, as one teacher fondly remembers it, “an exercise in the use of verbs and adjectives at a Key Stage Two level.” And since then I have been hooked on poetry.

Recently at Groundbreak, we’ve been working on a commercial with a poetry based script. Writing the script for this video is some of the best fun we’ve had working on a production. However, it was also challenging. How do you write a poem, something so fluid and nebulous, yet ensure that the video serves its marketing purpose and delivers your client’s brand messages? With our final script signed off and well into pre-production we’ll soon be able to show you how we did it. Until then here is a list of some uses of poetry within video advertising and marketing that we particularly admire.

Nationwide’s brilliant campaigns have championed diversity while supporting artists by collaborating with poets from across the country to create commercials filled with charm that are beautifully shot and leave a lasting personal impression. My personal favourite is this piece written and performed by Croydon based SugarJ.

While Nationwide commissioned bespoke poetry for their Voices campaign Director Daniel Barber paired Dylan Thomas’ Do not go gentle into that good night (1951) to allegorise breaking free from the humdrum of the rat race by driving a Ford Mustang.

This ad from Giff Gaff is performance poetry at its purest; One performer delivering poetry to camera in one take. It has a live and intimate feel and delivers a message that feels homely and honest. The stunning mise en scene adds a dreamy and cinematic quality that draws you in and romances you. It’s not A Recipe For Winter but it’s a bloody good effort.

*Groundbreak’s legal team have advised me to say