British Paint Brand Makes the Most of Its Surprise Appearance on SNL

BMB's tactical NYT ad for Farrow & Ball

Two Saturdays ago, premium British paint maker Farrow & Ball randomly hit the SNL jackpot. Its brand was central to a four-minute sketch starring Aidy Bryant, Kristen Stewart and Beck Bennett—in which Bryant is obsessed with the expensive Farrow & Ball paint, much to the horror of her brother and his wife. 

Half of the sketch was given over to the quality of Farrow & Ball's product, and while Bryant's character was clearly a bit of a lunatic, the brand's talking points couldn't have been more clearly communicated. 

"It's the high-end British paint company that offers unparalleled depth and col-our," Bryant says, emphasizing the last syllable of colour as she imagines the British might pronounce it—which becomes a running gag. "Each of their 132 col-ours work beautifully in homes both old and new. ... That col-our on the baseboard there is Ammonite, named after the fossils often found on the Dorset coast. And the wall col-our, well that's Lulworth blue, named after the swirling British mists of the beautiful Lulworth Cove."

See the full sketch here: 

Farrow & Ball confirmed it wasn't a paid placement. "It was a fantastic surprise to see the Farrow & Ball sketch on Saturday Night Live this weekend," chief executive Anthony Davey said. "We have had a really positive response from the public and saw a big spike in our web traffic over the weekend, which shows it really got people interested in finding out more." 

And then, of course, Farrow & Ball tried to figure out how to amplify the attention. Coincidentally, the company—which has never used an ad agency in its 73-year history—recently hired London's BMB for brand work that won't appear until 2020. The client asked the agency for ideas around the SNL moment. 

The solution was a tactical ad in this past Saturday's issue of The New York Times. The full-page ad introduced a fake F&B color called "English Roast No. 30," which is described as "a rich and good hum-oured hue with subtle hints of bone-dry satire and a lingering aftertaste of charred British beef." 

The ad concludes with a line from the SNL sketch: "It's not just paint, it's Farrow & Ball." 

"It only seemed right for a British brand to use lighthearted British wit in the ad," says Matt Lever, creative partner at BMB. "Whilst Farrow & Ball doesn't always use jokes in their creative, it is still a warm and human brand. Embracing humour is just another facet of that." 

Lever adds: "Like most Brits, we are aware of how big SNL is as a show and the importance of it in U.S. comedy. It's birthed some of my favourite actors."

Farrow & Ball also tweeted about its cameo, of course, and got a reply from Kent Sublette, a senior writer at SNL who worked on the sketch. 

"He's apparently a customer of ours!" Davis quipped. 

Going forward, BMB will work on Farrow & Ball's integrated business globally, including brand messaging, products, the Colour Consultancy service and the brand's always-on social.


Farrow & Ball - SNL Response advert for NYT
Client: Farrow & Ball
Agency: BMB
ECD: Matt Lever
Creative: Harry Boothman
Head of Design: Dom Grant
Head of Strategy: Melanie Arrow
Account Director: Matt Bonny
Account Manager: Liv Myers
Head of Brand Marketing: Mary Rochester Gearing

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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