Tag: advertising

think differently this christmas.

Although this blog isn’t a reviewing website, it’s been a while since I haven’t posted something and what’s better than the Christmas spirit to celebrate (and rant) on what Adland has to offer this year.

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Last year saw a burst of newcomers and as there’s always so much you can say about Christmas, most brands ended up saying the same thing, to the point that Currys and Harvey Nichols shared voice for giftface. That’s probably why everyone is taking on a subversive message for this year’s Holidays. Let’s start with the very Harvey Nichols who clearly didn’t want to risk being imitated this year with this original – if not questionable – execution “Britalia”. In an era of data-driven clients, I’ve read that the retailer recorded a peak in sales of Italian products… Buon natale then! But Harvey Nichs isn’t the only one to have taken an original approach, it’s hats off to the never-disappointing W+K and their latest spot for TK Maxx that brought a brilliant Christmas twist to their new brand promise.

And how can we forget the ball opener that was Burberry’s trailer-like short about the life of Thomas Burberry? Unfortunately for them and as with all things successful, they seem to be on for unveiling the full feature…

In the mean time, Currys stayed within the reasonable with a humorous take on gifting and House of Fraser built on last year’s musical success. One will note my deliberate move to omit John Lewis’ effort which will, by no doubt given their choice of director, be another tear-jerker that you’ll either love or hate.

Merry Christmas Adland, and keep thinking differently for more than just the Holidays!

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bring it on, rio.

The Olympics season is upon us and although Team GB have just started to bag the ultimate prize, Adworld didn’t fail to unload the usual stack of commercials from our favourite sponsors, ambushers and opportunists alike. You could be forgiven to think it will be hard to find great work this year. After all, a brief that has both the words Olympics and Rio in it doesn’t give much space to creative ingenuity. A maxi quadrennial year also means investments had to be prioritised between the Euros, the Olympics and, of course, Zlatan already being a living god in the Premierleague.

I’ll start with one that rarely disappoint – the swoosh. After the Make it Count campaign, our friends from Portland did it again, this time with Unlimited You, their latest positioning building on their tagline (which they shatter in the spot). A clip that is as inclusive (genders and sports alike) as the Olympics are meant to be, and one that still has that edge of personality they’ve recently introduced in their work. Start with the teaser and see it for yourself.

But it wasn’t about personality for everyone, as most broadcasters thought it would be tears of joy that would drive us to the aisles. That was the case for P&G who continued their Thank You Mum franchise ; Always who brought an Olympics twist to #likeagirl ; and Dick’s who gave us a lesson in biology and human nature with Gold in US.

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The greatest show on Earth is also the occasion to offer world-class storytelling, celebrating those athletes and their inspiring stories. Gillette tells us what happens behind the scenes of an athlete’s life in Perfect isn’t Pretty (although I find the link to the brand quite disappointing), Powerade went for the story of a kid overcoming obstacles in his personal life to make it to the big stage with a new instalment of Just a Kid. But one story that was worth telling this year was the one of the first ever Refugees team, the Olympics being the perfect playground for them to prove the world they’re more than what people think. Obviously a powerful story will attract lots of opportunists and Visa really missed the plot here, having such an incredible story to tell but failing to even scratch the surface, or to execute it the right way. Grey London, on the other hand, did UNHCR proud with this clip to celebrate the team’s participation to Rio.

I left my favourite for the end. There were lots of expectations on C4 after they’ve raised the bar quite high with their Superhumans clip 4 years ago. Well guess what, they’re back, moving from strength to unlimited ability (yes Nike, they can). Here’s a clip celebrating those who overcome their disability well beyond the Olympics stage. And don’t miss the short clips telling the stories and skills of the cast in the film. Hats off.

PS: Since I’ve skipped through most of the noise out there, feel free to check Adage and Campaign for a full list.

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learning from dicaprio’s near misses at cannes.

We’ve once won an industry award at my first agency. I remember the planner running around the office, brandishing a creative brief with a mandatory section that read: “this piece of work needs to win us an award”.

My proudest achievement to date – the Puma Dance Dictionary – won us some awards, but not before the international press talked about it. Not before I received a Puma Dance Dictionary message from a close friend I hadn’t talked to in years. If the purpose of what we do is to use brands to fuel culture and make something people will love, then there’s nothing more rewarding than having people talking about it. Unless you’re a multi-awards-winning CD, a Lion is really only destined to sit under some dust in reception or be buried under a lot of blurb in your CV.

Besides, what have awards become today? The backlash from the recent Cannes Lions was clear in pointing out that the strongest ideas had made place to what could be defined as “gimmicks”. Grey’s Grand Prix wins for Volvo and Facebook’s ice bucket challenge are good examples. And with new categories created every year, we are just devaluing what was the most respected awards show a decade ago.

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It is hard to argue against Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances over the time, yet he’s never left Cannes with anything else than a hangover. The year he failed to win an – expected – award for his performance on The Wolf of Wall Street, the Oscar went to Matthew McConaughey for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club (movie fanatics will remember that McConaughey undertook an extraordinary physical transformation for that film). Perhaps Oscars aren’t rewarding the best performances anymore. Perhaps that’s why Leonardo’s physical effort in The Revenant is likely to finally win him one. And perhaps there is a strong case for awards to be overrated.

Awards give you momentum, which could in turn win you clients and talent, but never should they come before or in the way of what we do in this Industry – culturally defining moments that get people to give a damn.

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how did lucozade already lost the rwc?

Keeping up with such an exciting Rugby World Cup, it would be wrong not to look at the aftermath of England’s dramatic early exit from the competition. We all know the consequences it will have for the country’s economy, the team’s sponsors and the nation’s moral state.

Lucozade thought they had a good idea when they activated the brand’s sponsorship of The Rose with a tongue in cheek effort that ended up with “for the home nation only” as a tagline.

Since then, Chris Robshaw and his mates have been ejected from their World Cup. Yet, that ad is still being smashed on pretty much every ad break. On top of the irony that the ad takes the piss out of the Aussies (who ended up giving a lesson to England), what is the relevance of the message now? Should the nation stop drinking Lucozade until the end of the RWC?

Why haven’t they planned for what happened on Saturday? Why didn’t they have a re-edit ready to go on air after the defeat? Or be flexible around their media plan? And why did they go for such a risky script to start with? So many questions that are rarely answered by brands in a similar situation…

The likes of Adidas and Nike are usually better prepared for such a scenario. After all they keep banging on with bold, inspirational slogans about glory and endorse teams and players all the time. For the 2002 Football World Cup, Adidas tried to hit big with a famous spot that pre-empted France’s success. After the team was knocked out during the group stage and without scoring a single goal, they released a different edit that felt like a natural sequel to the original one and looked forward to future glory. In a more recent example, the same Adidas invited key bloggers to watch the France team coach, that became infamous when the team decided to hold a strike against their management, being crushed to pieces to – once again – erase the past and look forward to future glory.

There is nothing wrong in crafting creative that relies on events you cannot control. That is as long as you are prepared with backup options when things happen.

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celebrate the game.

3 days into the Rugby World Cup and it’s about time I shared some work from the many brands out there trying to own their share of the game.

I’ll start with one of my favourites from Beats. Following on from their Football WC success (“The game before the game”), they carried on with long form content centered around the theme of preparation and anticipation with 3 films celebrating the stories of France (Fofana), New Zealand (McCaw) and England (Robshaw). “The game starts here” (what an evolved copy) is complete with some more content online around the 3 stories. Once again, R/GA showed that they know how to put a good narrative together and truly move their audience.

For those who are just getting into the Rugby vibe, Grey London and The Times went for the educational approach, with the “A to Z of Rugby“, hosted by international legends such as Lawrence Dallaglio, Sean Fitzpatrick and Gareth Thomas in a series of films attempting to decypher the language of the game with a light-hearted execution.

And the third one will have to bring some good around us. Rugby creates an interesting opportunity for blood donations. Both the natutre of the sport and its philosophy, built around respect and fair play, make it the right playground for such a message. That’s what the NHS tapped into with a bold execution around the iconic Rose. And they even went beyond by involving the legends of the game and their real blood. Watch it here.

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One will note that every ad break is filled with football-related messages (mostly betting) that might upset the true Rugby lover out there.

And last but not least, we are yet to see a brand making the most of a moment like Oreo did at the 2013 Superbowl. What about the controversial use of the video to give and then cancel tries?

Much more to come from the likes of Guinness and Land Rover so keep an eye on it as you enjoy what I hope will be a thrilling RWC.

Oh, and ALLEZ LES BLEUS!

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think small.

Celebrating one of the most powerful ideas ever from Volkswagen and DDB in style, courtesy of a great Art Director (Samuel Hanson), my modest copywriting skills and our superstar pug Epice.

And remember, think it over.

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what’s your mantra?

In an Industry where everyone is relentlessly trying to stand out, my fellow admen will be aware that most agencies in town are using a mantra to differentiate themselves from their competition. So here we are, working on “Real World Communications“, for the “connected age“, with “brave ideas beautifully executed“. These mantras usually shout about an approach, a POV or a methodology. In most agencies they reflect a culture, something that will be applied to everything they do, right from their recruitment policy to the delivery of work.

But really, to what extent do they differentiate from one another? If everyone is trying to say something different then surely no one will end up breaking through that clutter of would-be punchy lines?

Let’s get this straight. Most of them are so obvious they are almost insulting to any sound marketer out there. Who would go to R/GA expecting work that isn’t “for the connected age“? Who would knock at AMV‘s door and wouldn’t expect them to “help solve business challenges with creative ideas that change the competitive landscape“?

Don’t get me wrong, some of them do matter and make you listen. They do when they connect an agency’s strategic approach with its vision. They do when they are remembered over time and have a true purpose. They are defined through the circle of truth. They answer why we do things, why do consumers care about our work and why would a client want to partner with us.

Perhaps another approach would simply be not to have one and define yourself through what eventually matters the most. Your work. Something to think about.

And to wrap your week, here’s a nice little something challenging you to match a mantra to its agency.

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is less really more?

Long dead are the days of the Ford T. One product, no customisation, simple communications, simple message. Today’s theatre of brands means that differentiation is key to start with. This eventually means that brands are trying new things to better engage consumers or simply announce a new product. This unfortunately often comes at the expense of the consumer’s confusion. So can simplicity still be a topic in our ad agencies meeting rooms?

I have been stunned at the journey an idea takes in an agency. One of the brands I’ve worked for wanted to get consumers to “experience” its latest product at retail in a memorable and impactful way. The product’s KSP was really making a claim in itself and was way above competition. But we needed to set up an “in-store experience” for the consumer to test the product. 4 months and 2 – initially approved – concepts later, we all ended up with something no one would have expected, having seen the initial brief. My view was that the experience was so complicated, the bulk of our audience would be put off by it and would leave the store without even trying the product.

There is an interesting fact about airplanes when they take off. While they obviously need to reach a minimum speed to leave the ground, exceeding a certain speed will stick them to the runway. In that case, too much can be devastating. So why complicating things when doing simple could actually be the key to that differentiation everyone is obsessed with?

  • Everyone is busy trying harder
  • The consumer will get it
  • Well, it is simple

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Brands have entered into a war against each others, whereby the weapon is differentiation. Smart campaigns and marketing tricks are fired up on the battlefield. In my opinion, a brand should never forget who it is selling to – consumers and not competitors. Steering away from simplicity can sometime lead to trying too hard… in which case your campaign’s success won’t go beyond the creative award night.

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it’s being smart that counts.

Who hasn’t noticed LG’s latest move? More importantly, who stayed indifferent to its message: “it’s being smart that counts”? I questioned myself quite a lot on this. Did LG really see a gap for smartphones with no aesthetic at all? How about Apple’s slick iPhone 4, the Nokia N8 and C7 or even the latest HTCs? Is product design and aesthetics really not a key aspect of the offering for a smartphone today?

Smart that counts

Relying on my Telco experience, all high-end smartphones are pretty much aligned in terms of performance today. There was a time when Apple managed to surprise everyone with ground-breaking technology but this has now been matched by the likes of HTC and Android devices, and Apple’s strong appeal now only relies on its brand equity and the success of its App Store. In this context, making a claim about a tiny detail can make the difference: an aesthetic detail, HTC Sense “lock and track” feature that allow a user to remotely control a stolen or lost device, an App Store and you name it.

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So why would the LG Optimus One‘s claim only be about being smart, at the expense of, not only discarding any info about its design, but worse, claiming that they do not value it s a brand. Back to the ad (above), you will notice that the packshot is showing more than one angle – is that not showing off the phone’s design? And how about that partnership with Kelly Brooke? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she is also very smart.

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