Ad Breakdown: Lurpak’s Note

Lewis Folkard

Lewis Folkard

Suffolk-based conversion copywriter.

Lurpak note advert

How many times have you gone to the supermarket in desperate need of something – only to do the shop and forget the very thing you went there for? You’re not alone. And today’s ad plays with that, serving as a reminder so you don’t leave without your Lurpak.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

Lurpak Note Advert

Who’s responsible?

Copywriter: Adam Tucker | Art Director: Justin Tindall | Creative Directors: Ewan Paterson and Rob Jack | Photographer: David Gill | Agency: BMP DDB | Year: 2002

The idea

The message here is pretty direct: don’t forget your Lurpak. The ad uses a moment where you’re more likely to want butter to remind you to buy it. This way, the message carries a little more oomph. 

And then, in Justin Tindall’s conversation on Behind The Billboard, he shares how the ad was a supermarket proximity poster (at least, initially). So not only are you imagining a moment when you’ll want butter, but you’re doing so at an opportunity to buy it. Double trouble. 

What I found particularly interesting about his conversation was how the original concept was to only use a post-it note and make it look like butter. As in, that was the shot. And I think that’s still a great visual metaphor. 

But as the idea developed, they turned it into a mini slab of butter on food instead. I think this better harnesses the ‘emotional’ side of food. Because there’s something warming about watching/imagining butter melt on your crumpets. But maybe that’s just because I’m hungry, though? Or maybe this ad is making me hungry? Or maybe that was the goal all along?

Justin also shares the “don’t use blue [backgrounds] with food” rule. I’m assuming this is because blue doesn’t reinforce those warm, hunger-inducing feelings. But as you know, rules are meant to be broken. And a contrasting blue background worked particularly well with Lurpak’s opposing yellow. So, the Lurpak stands out more.

The technique

Visual metaphors are great, especially lookalikes. I really like them because they require you to think and solve the ad, which helps the message stick. And the science backs this up, so we know they work when they’re executed well. And this ad was.

The execution is beautifully simple and serves as a great example of a straight headline and bent visual. Because there’s so little going on, the elements don’t compete for attention. Instead, they serve each other. And make the takeaway clear. In fact, because there are so few elements, it comes across as confident too – and I think this rubs off onto the brand/product, making you want it more. 

Why the technique works

If you saw the recent Dunlop Tyres’ “Life Ring” breakdown, you’ll know there’s a visual metaphor there too. 

Dunlop Tyres' ad of life rings

In that breakdown, I shared and explained the reasons why visual metaphors are such an effective advertising technique. But to summarise, there are three: attention, elaboration and pleasure. 

Let’s layer these onto today’s ad and see how they fit.

(I go into more detail here)

Attention

Think pattern disruption. Or something used in the ‘wrong’ context. This startles you and gets your attention. In our case, a post-it note on a crumpet. 

Elaboration

Because it doesn’t add up, it holds you to figure out why. Like a little challenge. “The colour and shape of the butter look familiar, but there’s something odd.” “Is that a post-it note?” “On a crumpet?” “Why?” 

Pleasure

As you test different inferences using the data points in the ad, you’ll eventually figure out the meaning. And when you do, you enjoy the sense of achievement that comes. “Okay, why would you use a post-it note? To make notes. To not forget things.” “What does the post-it note look like (in this context)? Butter.” “So why would it be on a crumpet? So you don’t forget to buy butter for your breakfast.”

Summary

So there we have it, a simple visual metaphor playing with a lookalike. It reaps all the rewards of visual metaphors and, of course, plays into “the generation effect”. And then because this ad was used as a proximity poster, it serves the message at the perfect time: as you’re about to head into the supermarket and buy your butter.

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