Creative’s Missed Opportunities

Posted on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hannah Watkins-Lewis
Hannah Watkins-Lewis

I moved to these parts from Dublin a little less than a year ago. At first, I thought it would be exciting to travel to central London every day for work as so many others do...

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However, after one day of a 4-hour round commute, £60 poorer (not including my two coffees) and barely being able to keep my eyes open (what was I thinking, I’m the wrong side of 30 attempting to start this commute) I decided that working in London was not all it was cracked up to be, especially when my commute for the previous 7 years involved me sitting in the comfort of my own car for a maximum of 45 minutes. Alas, the game plan changed, find something closer to home became the mission and I quickly joined Miramar.

Because of my new-found mission, it’s not that often I’m in London so it still has that “Oh wow, London” novelty feel for me. Therefore, I was obviously pleased to be able to spend two days in London recently, one for business, the other for pleasure. Coming from the world of marketing and advertising it’s impossible to switch off and not notice all the ads and the various formats that they come in, particularly on the Underground and within stations.

On my first recent trip into the city I was going to a marketing conference in Kensington. While waiting at Paddington I had about 1 minute to absorb the ads above the tracks. One particularly caught my eye, it was a short story about the history of a well-known American whisky brand and was the perfect way to fill my time before the next train arrived. I was drawn into the story and was adamant to see it out to the end and add to my fountain of useless knowledge. But alas, I never got to the end of it as the trains are so frequent (Tfl 1 – 0 Advertising).

Admittedly, there are 2 ways of looking at this; it’s good advertising because it keeps the commuter engaged and regular users of the underground are more likely to see the short story out to then end, be it across a variety of platforms and stations or in one instance. Or, it’s bad because it takes too long to read due to the frequency of the trains.

However, at that moment in time I was thinking “Why wasn’t this ad thought through?” It was an interesting ad but with the amount of content in it I envisioned it becoming a great TV ad or social video or perhaps it could be worked into a great content piece or print ad. It would have been great had they done something like what Jim Beam do regularly with Mila Kunis for a TV ad.



On my latest trip to London I was with two friends from Dublin whom I used to work with. Coming from Dublin’s Ad Land you feel spoilt for choice with the number of Outdoor formats that are available in the UK and can’t help but think of the great ways that you would utilise them for clients if they were available in Ireland. It was even one of the first things they noticed when I picked them up at Heathrow. But again, I became a tad frustrated and this time there was two people there to agree with me. “There’s so much potential here but the quality of the creative is so poor” one of my friends chimed. It was difficult to decipher what some of the ads were even for, just a generic mixture of nameless faces on posters for brands that we couldn’t decipher between.

A perfect example of my frustration is the latest campaign for a well-known hotel booking website. You know, the one where there’s a brown-haired girl, a simple line of content that acts as a call to action and a search bar with a certain city’s name in it, and of course the brand logo. It’ all over the London Underground and buses, literally, all over, I saw the brown-haired girl more in those two weeks than I saw my husband. I’ve debated with peers who thought that it was simple and to the point. My argument is that it’s annoyingly simple. Why is the brown-haired girl there, what purpose does she serve? How is she connecting to the target audience? If the city being searched is Amsterdam wouldn’t an image of one of the city’s historic canals work better in making tired commuters research or book a trip on their daily humdrum?

It’s only fair to point out that for all the bad, there’s always some good. I enjoyed being followed up the escalator by the moving objects on the screen, interactive Dpods and giant motion screens dotted throughout the city on buildings and on the underground, that were home to some great creative. Needless to say, there is a plethora of OOH options available in cityscapes.

I really believe that more thought needs to go into some campaigns and their creative, be it B2C or B2B. Too often it’s easy to see a great/funny/thought provoking piece of creative and exclaim “I love it, it’s brilliant” because it made you laugh, cry or smile. That’s great, it’s evoking an emotion and often that can work, and we love to be entertained. But the purpose of advertising is to evoke a reaction from the consumer and see them order/buy/research/donate/bookmark/share/copy the link/call/fill out the form/start a conversation or add to their basket.

Entire cities have become our advertising canvases, shouldn’t we make them more beautiful and thought provoking while also making sense in terms of the campaign objectives? I think so, say no to bad, nonsensical creative and make better use of the opportunities presented.

Miramar have recently won an Advertising Excellence Award for a product branding campaign. If you want creative that links emotion with your objectives get in touch today at or visit our website:

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