Two of the most prevalently spoken and heard adages when it comes to copywriting are: “show, don’t tell”; and, “less is more”. As advertising campaigns become increasingly cinematic, the visual words subside in lieu of vocalized copy, but at this time of year even that is a scarcity. The nostalgic power of silent cinema has never had greater impact.
As the Christmas season is well underway, Adam & Eve/DDB’s latest John Lewis advert, #MozTheMonster, has stuck to a tried and tested formula that obeys these two maxims to the letter. Every year the advert is void of dialogue and voiceover. Instead, much like a Pixar short that precedes the feature film, the visuals and music do the talking. In the case of John Lewis, whichever lullaby-esque cover version has been chosen to compete for Christmas Number One.
Directed by Academy Award-winner, Michel Gondry, this year’s advert utilizes the dulcet tones of Elbow’s Guy Garvey covering the Beatles’ Golden Slumbers. The advert’s themes of nighttime wonderment and childhood sleepovers perfectly reflected in the choice of audio.
Below is #MozTheMonster, followed by a handful of the festive season’s greatest hits from years gone by, all adhering to the minimalistic dialogue / voice-over format:
Those last two examples in particular use language’s universality for unity, humour, and impact, and each affects its audience masterfully. Where Allegro and Sainsbury’s have achieved their greatest successes, however, is by distinguishing themselves from being just another John Lewis knock off. They use dialogue sparingly, sparsely, and splendidly.
In each of the four adverts, and indeed the majority of Christmas winners, the music and vocals (sung or spoken) blend with the visuals – more, they complement the visuals. In a world of showing over telling, less over more, the right copy, and the right amount of copy, are more vital than ever.