The phrase 'manifesto ad' seems to make Creatives want to jump out of a window.
Even a brief that alludes to a Client wanting to discuss their values will have teams exploding with righteous rage: "For Christ's sake, it sounds like they want a bloody manifesto ad!"
But is this type of ad unfairly maligned?
It's true they tend to follow a formula. Normally either "Here's to..." as in "Here's to the crazy ones" or "We're for..." as in "We're for dogs." Or you can take an abstract noun and write an essay about it (see example above).
And Creatives hate formulas.
But they don't have to be done in a formulaic way. Chipotle's last two Super Bowl ads were essentially manifestos, as was Honda's famous "Hate something, change something" epic.
We really should just be grateful that we're getting to make a brand ad for once.
The term 'brand ad' seems to have become a dirty word in marketing circles - they're viewed as fluffy and self-indulgent. I've even seen one marketer quoted as proudly saying he would "never" make a brand ad. This is despite the excellent work by Simon Sinek in describing how people "don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."
And it's despite our understanding that you have to pay attention to every stage of the purchase funnel. (I always feel that brands who only do retail advertising, and no brand advertising, are failing to stoke desire for their product, and thus end up communicating to people "Hey, you know this product you don't want? It's really cheap!")
So manifesto ads should surely be welcomed not slated.
I think the key to making them interesting is in not just saying what you're for, but what you're against. That's where they get their energy. It's also the form's history. Take the manifesto of the Communist Party, for example. Those guys were livid. They were convinced that there's something wrong with capitalism, and they gave it a jolly good kicking. The same with the Futurists. They'd had it up to here with boring, traditional art. And that's what made their manifesto so exciting. If slightly loopy.
I reckon you can actually have a lot of fun with manifesto ads.
Confession time: I'm even enjoying the manifesto 'films' that we make for pitches nowadays.