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Rich's Blog

Is this Norwegian Airlines advert a little too clever?

On New Years Eve M&C Saatchi Stockholm dropped this rather clever print ad for Norwegian Airlines, named “Flag of Flags”. When I came across it on Twitter today, I immediately thought "Wow, that's such a clever idea. Love it!". There have been many others that have thought the same and talked of awards, and they’re right, it is rather excellent – (there was also talk of it actually being very unoriginal, but discussion on originality and plaguerism is for another day).

However, what surprised me after sharing the advert around to some people that hadn't seen it before was how many didn't 'get it'. "Are the squares to do with the price or their location in the world?." It seemed the idea had been lost on some people, but once explained they all agreed it's a great idea, just a little subtle.

So there's no doubt the creative team have hit upon a clever concept (whether original or not), but perhaps the subtlety of the execution is too clever for its own good. Would have highlighting them differently have helped? Would have mentioning countries rather than cities have helped?

One could argue that once someone eventually spots the 'reveal' of the hidden flags, that is reward enough. I would agree a hidden message or idea can pay off, but if you only have a few seconds before someone flips the page surely you need to give them a little more of a nod in the right direction?

Of course every piece of communication shouldn't be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, but if you're audience is the general public you should make sure what you're saying is clear enough and, most importantly, gets noticed.

It's great to see print getting some love in a digital world but if there was to be a digital execution, banner, homepage or otherwise with the user hovering over the flag to reveal the hidden flags, would have this been equally clever but more effective?

Remembering to see your ideas through the eyes of someone perhaps less creatively minded than you, ie. the target audience, should give a more ‘real-world’ perspective of it, and hopefully enable you to create work that not only the creative industry applauds but is an effective solution to the brief. 

So is the “Flag of Flags” ad too clever? I would not say that the idea is too clever, because it's seriously fantastic and one of the best things I've seen in a while, but the execution of the ad and potentially the media choice, could have been a little smarter.