Russian Doll Advertising

Sorry for the long silence – work has been busy, and we’ve been judging student awards at D&AD which was fun. Anyway, maybe we’re slow on the uptake here, but we’ve been noticing lately a rise in what we’re calling Russian Doll Adverts.

That is, ads within ads within ads. Nat first noticed it with a fairly lamentable TV ad for Colgate, where instead of having an actual idea in the ad, they chose to film another bit of their promotional activity – in this case they are doing some product sampling in a shopping centre.

This technique, if you can call it that, seems particularly prevalent during the day. TV ads for personal loans seem to always involve someone being tele-marketed to. And car insurance ads seem to be mostly about people looking up price comparisons on a website.

Last night I saw a billboard which had a photograph of a laptop on it, with a website for Nat West Helpful Banking on it. That was the ad then, a replication of their activity in other media.

Then there’s the lovely Orange and T-mobile time-lapse TV ad, which has two billboards chatting to each other.

So it’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s just interesting – the need to cross-reference activity in other media.

Is there a record so far for the most recursive ad campaign? Could you have a TV ad where someone is opening a piece of DM on their doormat. Inside the DM is a picture of someone at a stunt. And in the photograph, someone is also looking at a billboard. And then this whole thing later runs as an online MPU ad.

Probably not, but it amuses us to think about it anyway.

On an entirely different note, we wanted to recommend watching ‘Campus’ – the new comedy on Channel 4 from Vicky Pile (producer of Smack the Pony and Green Wing). The dialogue is unbelievably sharp, witty, and surreal. On the whole, it’s basically David Lodge on crack.


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