Brands, Does Spoken Word Still Sell?
By Jade French | Brand Editor
When brands choose to go with spoken word poetry in their advertising are they appealing to the audiences’ emotion, or is it just a cynical ploy to sell?
We come into more contact with poetry than we realise. Whether it’s Poetry on the Underground spouting Robert Burns, or Shakespeare being appropriated for Levi 501’s we’re accustomed to advertising using rhyme and syntax to capture the ear of an audience.
But does this sully an art form, or give it room to reach a new audience? There’s an argument for both. Of all the artistic endeavours, poetry isn’t the most lucrative (as Roger McGough commented to the Guardian). And any medium that attracts, celebrates and bolsters an art form is surely a good thing.
What seems a shame is an unwillingness to reach out to the young vanguard of poetics. George the Poet or Kate Tempest could add a new layer of engagement from a younger generation. Which is why Guinness' new advert with Lady Leshurr is a welcome change.
Often, though, it falls to using the greats for not-so-great ends. This over exposure to poetry in adverts can become trite, and use the poets rather than enhance them or place them into a new context. And it can also place spoken-word heroes into strange realms (John Cooper Clarke, do you really like McCains that much?).
As Amplify’s resident poet, James Massiah put it, “I have certainly noticed a lot more of the form of poetry being used in the kind of marketing campaigns on TV. But [poetry] has been there for centuries, it is there in the public domain for people to use and reference as they please. I quite enjoy it when it's used in a campaign because to me it is a form, apart from film scripts or song lyrics, where I see it has everyday reach and where it has the most direct functional effect”.
In fact, we could see the benefit of poetical interpretations of a message ourselves, when James wrote a piece for our documentary Young Blood . The visceral nature of word, rhythm and movement captures the essence of our research perfectly. But back to brands – how can they get it right?