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‘The Book of Dreams:’ The Ad that Made Everyone Start Talking

Menzie Pittman • December 2019Small Business Matters • December 4, 2019

I’m assuming that by now everyone in the music business has seen the Argos Ad: “The Book of Dreams.”

In full disclosure, I know very little about Argos other than they are a British catalog company. But I’m not here to write specifically about Argos – I am here to shout out that I am a fan of the team behind the brilliant Argos Christmas ad.

Their holiday clip features a dad and daughter playing a drum set duet, and if you happen to be the one person on the planet who missed seeing it, I wholeheartedly recommend you find it on YouTube ASAP and enjoy this masterful commercial. It is well worth your time.

So, what makes this ad head and shoulders above most ads you will see over the holidays? In a word – EVERYTHING. This commercial may be the best creative tool produced by a retailer in decades. I believe it helps all music retailers as well as Argos. So, let’s review some of the video’s highlights, shall we?

First is the element of surprise. The dad finds the Argos catalog in which his daughter has circled a red heart around a drum set she wants for Christmas. He begins to ponder and tap… The first win for the ad: It recognizes girl drummers which immediately indicates that the advertiser is up to speed with the times. Argos uses Nandi Bushell to play the role of the young female drummer. In real life Nandi is a rising young musician who deserves a ton of credit for how well she pulls off her role in this ad.

The second win for the ad: It uses a legitimate young musician: Nandi (age 9), who was expertly rehearsed for the video shoot by Brad Webb. Anytime our industry shows the exceptional gifts that music affords a young person, it is a win. Again, Argos has done the music industry a huge favor by doing so.

The third win for the ad: It recognizes the joy of family. That is always a positive.

Argos and its creative agency, the &Partnership, came up with the idea of “dream fulfillment.” They returned to promoting the Argos catalog (which they had not done in a decade) with the flavor of nostalgia and – it works! They renamed the catalog “The Book of Dreams,” yet another smart touch in connecting the ad with the viewers’ hearts.

The ad starts when the dad, played by drummer Omar Abidi, sees his daughter’s note in the catalog. He begins reminiscing about playing drums and as he does, magic begins to happen all around him. The ‘80s tune, “Don’t You (Forget about Me)” by Simple Minds pops up on TV, and dad begins to play along on the catalog drum set that magically appears. The key word here is “magic.” The Argos creative team captures every detail of magic while dad plays this little tiny kid-kit with Zeppelin-esque sound effects. Sequenced lights pop on and cabinets turn into amps as the kitchen explodes into a huge stage. With every bigger drum lick, the kit magically expands. The magic of music continues to be the theme.

The lighting effects and the synchronicity of sounds, aligned with the visuals, are perfect. The details in the video are mind-boggling. There’s even a pick scrape when the daughter slides down the banister to join the dad as a second kit magically appears out of thin air.

There are so many subtleties throughout this brilliant commercial, even down to a teddy bear that crowd surfs. It is completely inspiring. The ad gives you the feeling of the ‘60s boom that the music industry enjoyed. I personally found that encouraging. Inspiration, emotion, and family are all elements that have waned as of late, but this commercial is all about everything good from the good old days. That’s why it works. It highlights everything good about family connection, spontaneity, passion, and fun.

So, how can we use this tool in our own businesses?

First, you can talk about it. If you have a family as a customer, share it with them. Our families love when I share unique tidbits that I have discovered, especially ones that I think they might personally enjoy.

So, find a tidbit in the video that you think is cool; along with that, talk about Nandi and how inspiring it is to witness such a talented young musician having such early career success. Post the advertisement on your social media page and show your customers that you are moved by how cool this ad is with its reconnection to families loving music. It’s also a chance to show appreciation when you give Argos and their creative team (the&Partnership) full credit as you talk to your customers and others about the creativity behind this ad.

In closing…

I talk a lot with my customers about dads and daughters and drums and the importance of sharing the love of music as a family tradition. This commercial is a win across the board for Argos, the music industry, female musicians, young musicians, and families.

Thank you, Argos, for the early Christmas gift: The ad that made everyone start talking.

Menzie Pittman is the owner and director of education at Contemporary Music Center in Virginia (CMC). Following a performance and teaching career spanning more than 32 years, he founded CMC in 1989 and continues to perform, teach, and oversee daily operations. He has 50 years of musical experience as a drummer and drum instructor. Menzie is a frequent speaker at NAMM’s Idea Center, and a freelance writer for MMR’s “Small Business Matters” column.

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