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Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Do the eyebrows have it?

The Magazine's review of advertising

THE ADVERT: Cadbury's eyebrow children

THE SCHTICK: Get an advert which will have the same impact as the infamous drumming gorilla

THE BREAKDOWN: Two awkward-looking children do clever tricks with their eyebrows in time to Freestyle's 1986 tune Don't Stop the Rock.

Cadbury's ad
New gorillas
Cast your mind back to the gorilla drumming his way through Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight. You probably saw it on telly. Maybe on YouTube. It probably made you feel a bit curious, you may have wanted to join in as the simian beast reached his climax, and you probably wondered if it was actually a trained monkey or a man in a suit. You might or might not have noticed it was for Cadbury's chocolate, and if you did, you might also have wondered why a drumming gorilla should make you want to buy chocolate.

Good thoughts, and the correct responses are: yes, it was intriguing; yes, it did make you want to join in; it was a man in a suit; yes, it was for Cadbury's, and it might have been coincidence but chocolate sales went up after the advert.

What made the advert great for Cadbury's is what lots of advertisers will be looking for in these straitened times - getting an advert to "cut through" all the rest of the advertising noise, get it noticed, get people sending it round to each other on the internet, get it accepted as a cult classic - anything to make the advertising pound stretch as far as possible. And all this on top of the standing requirement that people should want to rewind the advert and watch it again and again.

Cadbury's has obviously studied these requirements carefully and thinks with its dancing eyebrows it has a winner. A spokesman said the ad was designed to "encourage involvement and imitation", and indeed one TV comedy show featured such an imitation last week. As if to make the point, a photo-sharing website offers people tools to add weird eyebrows to their photographs and then have them printed on the side of coffee mugs.

And yet there is clearly the risk of feeling over-manufactured; if an advert develops a cult following it's surely better if it grows organically rather than being planned as part of the campaign. There's a risk of an advertiser hoping just a bit too hard for the public to take an advert to its heart, a bit like someone trying to encourage others to use an affectionate nickname.

The advert has probably done enough already for it to get noticed. But the point of this advertising has been to encourage the notion that these adverts are a treat for the viewer, associated with a celebratory moment of reward, just like chocolate. The drumming gorilla certainly had that quality. But do the eyebrows have it?

THE BLOGGER'S VERDICT: Rob Mortimer, a planner at CheethamBellJWT, says "The ad sets its stall out to be entertainment, so we judge it differently. And in this campaign the benchmark is very very high. The problem seems to be that the tone of the humour doesn't quite fit with the idea. It's trying to be Vic and Bob with serious faces and silly movements, but it just feels too forced and lacks the emotional quality that made Gorilla great. Besides, the joy of Gorilla was that you felt the joy of the moment even if you didn't understand the message; but here that joy just doesn't hit."

Ad Breakdown is compiled by Giles Wilson

Below is a selection of your comments.

When the Cadbury eyebrows ad comes on we all stop what we're doing (two adults, two kids - 14 and 10 years old) and watch and laugh together (we must have seen it a dozen times). It's the only ad we've ever stopped to watch together. We haven't bought any Cadbury's products though.
Martin Plant, Dukinfield

I don't agree with Rob Mortimer. I think 'eyebrows' is actually funnier and quirkier than Gorilla, but then I never did like Phil Collins or his music anyway. The kids are spookily like something out of The Shining and that's what makes it great. And you can guarantee that in schools and offices across the country, there'll be masses of wannabe eyebrow dancers and that's got to be a great spin-off for the brand and probably freestyle too!
Odette Brightmore, Nottingham

Nothing is going to top that gorilla. Nothing.
Eleanor, Liverpool

I really don't like this advert. It tries too hard to be original and funny, which has rather the opposite effect on me. You can't force something to become a viral hit. This lacks the charm the gorilla advert had and also the surprise value as the previous advert was completely unexpected. Also, do the children freak out anyone else?
Aleta, Ipswich, UK

Whilst I loved the Gorilla advert, the current children doing eyebrow movements actually scares me a little.
Dan W, London, UK

I think this advert is great. It attracts your attention, and even though you wouldn't have known it was an advert for Cadbury's Chocolate, you certainly do by the end. It hasn't made me want to go out and buy any chocolate, but it certainly did make me laugh! And still does now occasionally, even though it seems to be getting a little tiresome.
Shari-Leone Fryer, Rugby

It certainly caught my eyes, and yes I do agree with Rob Mortimer, it feels manufactured, just like the chocolate, but I guess that wasn't the point. It does get you wondering though what on earth does it have to do with Cadbury, but I guess getting to a stage where you mind comes up with a question like that, is enough to get Cadbury on your mind!
Khaled, London

This advert is quality. It freaks me out every time it comes on. It certainly has a distinctive quality that makes it less likely to fall from one's mind when it finishes, which, I believe is, to the advertisers advantage.
Vicky Laver, Pontefract

It just feels wrong and I can't actually watch it. It's a bit too weird for me. There's no warm feeling to it like the gorilla (or even the airport truck) ad. Too freaky and disturbing.
Mark, Bham

Much like the gorilla ad and the largely forgotten 'trucks', 'eyebrows' seems to be dividing viewers everywhere. I love it, personally - the music is memorable without being annoying and the kids are perfectly cast. Everyone wants to know if it's real or CG - I can't help but wonder if Cadbury's are deliberately keeping schtum to encourage discussion and debate.
Sarah Vernon, St Albans


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