An unexceptional ad that’s been influencing me for years – By @NihalTharoor

Nihal Tharoor-Menon

By Nihal Tharoor-Menon



An unexceptional ad that’s been influencing me for years


We speak a lot about effectiveness in advertising. An idea might be clever and entertaining but does it sell the product?


There are plenty of brilliantly creative adverts that have never persuaded me to part with my money.


In fact, I have found it difficult to pinpoint even one advert that has directly influenced me to purchase.


But this week I had a revelation.


I realised that a TV ad I watched over ten years ago is the sole reason I prefer and enjoy one product.


And this advert had neither a clear proposition nor brilliant creative.


This all came to light during a fascinating talk from John Kearon, the founder of a new agency based on System 1 thinking.


The term System 1 refers to the primitive, emotional part of our brain that dominates our decision making. Our inner chimp.


The agency, BrainJuicer, hits back against the old marketing belief that consumers behave in a rational or considered way. John argues emotional impact is all that really matters.


In his talk he showed us two ads for Tropicana.


One showed a metropolis lined with orange groves. People were picking oranges on the street, from the bus window. They were fresh and delicious.


The other showed people eating breakfast in New York. No oranges. Just New York. And then ended with a pack shot, alongside the claim that Tropicana is New York’s favourite orange juice.


We were asked which ad was more effective.


Well, the first one had a clear proposition – Tropicana uses the freshest oranges – and then had developed unexpected creative from it – orange groves in the city.


The New York one had nothing do with oranges. Where was the thinking?


But John revealed the New York ad was hugely effective, and the orange groves not at all.


I sensed Coup and Marc were skeptical, but I knew John was correct.


The New York ad has stayed with me for over a decade.


I remember it vividly.


The 1950s swing music hits against the backdrop of New York on a sunny morning.


The iconic city in all it’s charm. The skyscrapers. The yellow taxis. The hustle. The bustle.

All while Dean Martin croons.


The ad forever linked my fondness for New York with a specific brand of orange juice.


But there was no rational thinking there.


No proposition.


Just a clever use of semiotics and a great choice of music.


And my System 1 lapped it up.


This has led me to a conclusion – the most successful advertising we produce as creatives will probably not come from a proposition.


Right now, that’s quite reassuring.

Related SCABs

Go back

Student Application

  • Fill out the Application Form below to be a part of our next Award-Winning intake.

  • MM slash DD slash YYYY