Ad of the Day – July 1 (Madrid)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: McCann
  • Location: Madrid
  • Client: Calvo Tuna
  • Name: They know it
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: “But wait…this doesn’t look like a tuna ad. Where are the smiles? Where is the consumption shot? And the family dinner-time shot? The energy is a low…too moody, the interest tracking is going to be low. Where is the reason to believe? The freshness? And surely moms can’t relate to being portrayed like this, the relevance scores are going to be under par. And we need the product up at the top, right now it’s in the very back, we need so much more branding.” Umm…how many tuna ads do you remember? Zero? Exactly. So when exactly did zero recall become a best practice (LINK score notwithstanding)? Our ideas must be different. They must take an unexpected route, to even have a chance. For every  “best-practice-this-is-what-worked-before” convention, I can show you 20 “compliant” ads that pass like a ship in the night. I believe this Calvo ad is a winner, because it’s supremely interesting from the first 5 seconds on…and then never let’s go. And when it comes time to introduce the product it all makes sense, it comes together in a credible manner that releases the built up tension…and the overall result elevates the brand. Next brief you have, think of the 5 best ads in the category…then come up with something completely different.

Cannes Bronze Film Lion winner

The “A to Z recap” of Cannes Lions 2013



The posters have been taken down, the streets have been swept, the Nice airport has cleared, the celebratory hangovers are starting to fade…12 thousand delegates are slowly making their way home, having endured through a thrilling week of creativity, inspiration, networking, and good-old-fashioned celebration.

What to make of Cannes 2013?

The Cannes International Festival of Creativity, celebrating its 60th edition, has grown so big and complex that it’s impossible to capture the experience in a few neat thoughts. But I will try to give you a taste: below is an “A to Z” collection of parting thoughts from the unique advertising whirlwind that is Cannes.

Letter A black icon


Anniversary Celebration: Cannes turned 60 this year, and there was an exhibition that showed the historical evolution of the festival. From its beginnings in 1953, when 200 delegates gathered in Venice and paid a 30 dollar registration fee (ha!), to the week-long extravaganza that it is today, including 12 thousand delegates and 35 thousand pieces of work submitted. Do you know that the Lion was originally modeled after the Lion of St. Mark’s Square, in Venice, and only got its current look in the 80’s? Did you know that Cannes only became the permanent home of the festival in 1984? For this and more historical tidbits, click here.

Letter B black icon

Beach promenade: Although most of the content takes place inside a convention center, undoubtedly a big part of the identity of the Cannes festival is linked to its lovely French Riviera setting, and its beach-front promenade known as La Croisette. Why is the beach so cool? 1. You end up walking the 7 or so blocks countless time throughout the week, and amazingly you can count on running into mostly everyone at some point, from old friends to celebrities of the advertising world. 2. Most of the parties, large and small, take place on the actual beach itself – they place planks of wood on the sand and turn the beach onto a huge platform…from where you can look back onto the hotels…quite beautiful and unique.

Letter C black icon

Lovely, relevant (and free!) last week

Coca-Cola: As far as clients go, this was undoubtedly the year of Coke. They were crowned as marketer of the year, in a rightful recognition of the incredible work they’ve been doing for many years now. An inspiration to the industry in terms of their creativity and their embrace of trans-media storytelling (if I were Pepsi I’d be so depressed!) On Saturday night they picked up their award, and this was the video that was played as an introduction. Two things to note: It’s called marketer of the year, but you don’t win this for one year of good performance, what is clear is that to get to this level you need a cumulative effect of many years of excellent creativity. Coke works with many agencies, and among them Ogilvy is extremely well represented, it can be said that we’ve been their key driver of recognition in the last two years, including CokeHands, Share a Coke, Sprite Shower, Toe Tappy, and many more!

Letter D black icon

Dumb Ways to Die: Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, this will be the one piece shown in retrospectives of Cannes 2013. It’s an astounding achievement, and even if you saw it months ago, watch it again below and be hooked all over again. Consider: 1. It won 5, yes 5 Grand Prix (this is nothing short of surreal.) 2. Graham Fink nailed it with his prediction prior to Cannes: “…it is going to sweep the board at Cannes. And rightly so. I think if I had got this brief, I would have done something very powerful and shocking. But what is brilliant about this idea is the creative team did exactly the opposite. They started with a song. And a happy one at that. But at the heart is a dark message. I’m sure it hit the target market like an express train.” 3. Both Dan Wieden and Lee Clow got on stage and expressed their jealousy at not having come up with that one.

Letter E black icon

Excellence: One of the best things about Cannes is that it gathers all the great work from all over the world, and it shows you exactly how high the bar is. You walk away with a mixture of inspiration, ambition, healthy jealousy, unhealthy jealousy, and fear that your future work won’t measure up. A few examples below (click for larger image), like the Ogilvy Paris ads for Perrier Small Bubbles: a delightful mix of pop art, unexpected humor, solid writing, and cleverly conveyed product benefit. Or the ads for Knacki Sausages, also by Ogilvy Paris: amazing art direction, relatable humor, crisp benefit, great branding. Or the Ray Ban ad by Marcel, mixing artful photography, storytelling, and a brand-manifesto message. Amazing stuff, huh? I’d be so proud to have been involved with any of them. They all have something in common: all were shortlisted in print, yet none of them walked away with a Lion. That’s how high the benchmark is!

Perrier - illiteratemotorbikephotojournalist

Letter F grey icon


Finality: Cannes can be filled with celebration, in fact there are so many awards and categories that at times it can seem a little like your kid’s soccer league: everyone goes home with a trophy. But the truth is quite a lot harsher. There were 35,000 submissions, and each one of them represents a lot of work, sweat and tears, and the hopes of many people who stayed behind in the office. When you don’t win (and most don’t win), the news arrives with a devastating finality: you see, the shortlist is published a few days before the awards show for each category. If you get a shortlist, this is a great accomplishment, and it allows you to continue “dreaming” of a Lion for a few more days until the ceremony. Party on! But if yours is not on the list…just like that, it’s all over. Sadly for me this was the case with many of our entries from Ogilvy Shanghai. On Monday morning, right at the time I was picking up my delegate badge and beginning my Cannes experience, I found out that many of our entries (including some that were near and dear to my heart!) hadn’t made the cut. Devastating. But that’s life at Cannes. Not winning doesn’t mean your work is not awesome (see examples above). But the pain is swift and undeniable.

Letter G black icon


Gutter Bar: A true Cannes institution. Reliable, unassuming, and a charmingly decadent. If you haven’t been, you’d be stunned by what a piece of crap little bar it is. In fact I think it’s 2 or 3 little bars that are on the corner and neither of them is actually called “Gutter Bar”. What the term describes is an area on the corner across from the Martinez hotel, where hundreds, even  thousands of people spill over onto the street and just chill for hours, catching up with friends over copious amounts of beer. It’s basically the Cannes dive bar. People start arriving at 2 or so once the other parties start wrapping up, and then the place is jammed until 6 or 7. Seriously, it’s jammed until daylight. A word on the partying: regardless of what Cannes-goers might tell their wives/husbands/bosses back home, let me assure you: the amount of partying is insane. The sun doesn’t even set until 9:30pm. Dinner ends at 12. If you’re taking it easy, you sneak out to go home early…at 2 or 3. If you go with the flow, 5am. If you’ve won a lion and you’re going all out…6 or 7. Over the course of a week, this is a supreme test of human endurance, and I guarantee you that by Friday, variations on “being shattered” are featured in 94% of any conversation at Cannes. And that is just another reason why Cannes kicks ass.

Letter H black icon

Hotels: The Carlton, The Martinez, The Splendide, The Miramar. All lovely, grand hotels along the Croisette where movie stars stay during the Film Festival, and advertising royalty stays during Cannes Lions. I walked into the lobby of the Carlton last week and as I was going through the revolving door Dan Wieden was going out in the opposite direction. Very cool. The Carlton has a fantastic terrace that spills out onto the Croisette (that is, the terrace juts out the front of the hotel,) and this is where people meet at all hours to catch up, gossip about the work and the seminars, and generally drink up pricey bottles of rose wine. At night both the Carlton and the Martinez are jam packed…they’re basically the pricier, slightly ritzier, slightly earlier version of the Gutter Bar.

Letter I black icon

Immortal Fans: A masterful Grand Prix winner in Promo & Activation by Ogilvy Brazil (Rio office). Other work may have gotten a little more attention throughout the year in social media. But the way this case is presented has the power of a freight train, and I’m thrilled it got selected. Mixing the magic of soccer, with the passion of the Brazilian people, with a life-or-death cause, with a brilliant creative idea, with superb execution…what else? This is the type of sublime inspiration one is exposed to at Cannes. Our industry at its best.

Letter J black icon


Sir John Hegarty: One of many “superstars” that you’re bound to walk by, or see giving a speech, or just generally be around during the week. It’s pretty cool. Shelly Lazarus, David Droga, Dan Wieden, Marcelo Serpa, Khai Meng, etc., they’re all there, most every year. I’m not sure if all industries have a collection of “stars” like advertising does, people that have been at the top of their games for decades, sometimes heading up agencies that bear their name, being very visible and vocal figures for their industry and representing tons of historic work. Certainly the entertainment industry (much more glamorous than us!), but I wonder if the same can be said for banking, or insurance, or automotive? Either way, it’s pretty neat.

Letter K black icon

KhaiKhai: The Ogilvy network, under Tham Khai Meng’s creative leadership, last year won the Agency of the Network at Cannes, for the first time in Ogilvy’s history. We took the crown from BBDO by winning 83 lions, including a Grand Prix. This year, you figure the only way is down…instead, that record was completely obliterated. Khai gave a talk last week at Cannes where he showed inspiring recent work from around the Ogilvy network. It was amazing to see how diverse it was in geography, medium, and execution, but how consistent it was in its excellence. I don’t see Khai’s creative machine slowing down. I mean, even stuff that didn’t win a lion, or even get a shortlist (!) was awesome. Like this submission video for IBM by the New York office. Sweet stuff.

Letter L black icon

Links: Cannes, is so large, so filled with content and options that I think you could easily fill up 10 schedules that would never intersect. Anytime there is a cool talk, seminar, meeting or party there are 3 others great ones at the same time that you unfortunately have to miss. So there are as many Cannes experiences as there are individuals – this A to Z view is one person’s view (mine). For more, here are links to some excellent Cannes roundups:

Mannes in Cannes: By our own Chris Gotz, ECD of Ogilvy Cape Town. Without a doubt, the very best day-by-day recounting of Cannes I have seen. Read from the bottom up. Seriously, you must. I wish I could write like this.

Adweek: Make sure you read the one where Lee Clow and George Lois dispense their timeliness wisdom, and also the one where they interview 12 greats

Adage: Filled with good video interviews of the top winners

Letter M black icon

Meeting 2

“How not to be a douchebag in advertising”

Master Classes: At Cannes there are many types of “talks” during the week, all happening at once in a big jumbled heap of a schedule. You have Seminars: keynote speeches given on all types of topics, normally “sponsored” by an agency or industry-related company, and held in a big auditorium. There are Forums, where a panel sits and gives a bit of a speech, and then takes questions from the audience on a variety of topics.There are Workshops, which are skill-based and feature a more interactive, participatory setup. I bet not many were scheduled before noon. Also Tech Talks, where tech companies give their pitch on how they are going to revolutionize the industry. And even specialized content groupings, such as “China Day” this year, where all things China were discussed. But my favorite were the Master Classes. If a Seminar is a rock concert in an arena, the master class is an acoustic concert in a neighborhood bar. A very small, intimate, relaxed setting, with some seriously smart folks sharing their know-how in a casual, easygoing way. This year I went to hear Khai talk about creativity (above), Stephane Xiberras describe the difference between great and bad ads (more below), and the founder of Mother NY talk about how to avoid being a douchebag in our business. The only one I missed was Amir Kassaei of DDB, because I was triple-booked. Either way you like it, there is a ton to learn at Cannes.

Letter N black icon


Non-stop: They say you can do “learning Cannes” or “social Cannes” easily…if you try to do both you’ll end up quite worn out. Well, that’s what most people try to do. Folks that don’t go (especially wives and husbands) might think it’s a paid vacation…and while it’s as awesome as a vacation, it’s by no means as relaxing. Here is a sample agenda for last Tuesday June 18, kept track of with a handy Cannes Lions App that would crash every 5 seconds: 9:25-9:45 How to reap the benefits of 1.34 billion Chinese consumers, China Day; 10-10:45 Iconic Storytelling frame by frame, Annie Leibovitz, Disney & McGarry Bowen; 10:30-11:15 Four hands piano: how different is Chinese creativity?, China Day; 11:30-12 Casa Mexico hospitality area; 12-13 How to avoid being a douche in this business, Mother Collective; 13-13:20 Where is China’s youth heading? China Day; 14-14:45 Creativity at scale, Facebook; 15:30-15:50 Lightning Talk: LMAO with Gen Z – and realizing I am getting older, Google Beach; 16-17 The health tech revolution, crossing the physical digital divide, Arianna Huffington, 17-17:45 How brand can embrace miraculous new technologies, Leo Burnett & Contagious; 19-21 Media, Mobile, Innovation and Outdoor Lion awards; 21:30-1 Opening Gala, 1-3 Carlton Terrace, 3-5 Gutter bar…repeat more or less for 7 days..!

Letter O black icon


Ogilvy: It feels a little bit crass to wave your own flag, but honestly at Cannes 2013 O can only stand for Ogilvy. Let me throw a couple of facts at you: 1. Agency Network of the Year. 2. Agency of the Year (Sao Paulo). 3. If you remove the points of all of Ogilvy Brazil entirely, we’d still be Network of the Year. 4. If you combine the points of 2nd place BBDO and 3rd place DDB…we’d still be agency of the year. 5. From Khai’s email: “No one had ever won more than 100 Lions before; our previous record—set only last year—was 83. We almost doubled that with 155 Lions.” 6. Grand Prix are extremely rare. The most we’d ever won was 2 for Dove Evolution in 2007. This year we won 4, and for 4 different offices on 4 different ideas (Promo&Activation: Rio for Immortal fans. Media: Amsterdam for Dela. Titanium: Sao Paulo for Dove. Outdoor: Paris for IBM) 7. We won a rare Creative Effectiveness Gold Lion, for which only previous Gold Lion creative winners can submit. 8. We won lions in 38, yes thirty-eight, different offices around the world. I don’t know how to say it elegantly, so I’m just going to say like it is: historic.kicking.of.ass.

Letter P black icon

Pereira O’Dell: an agency from San Francisco that teamed up with Intel and Toshiba to win an astounding 2 Grand Prix (Film, and Branded Content/Entertainment) for “The Beauty Inside”. The piece doesn’t have a simple explanation, but it’s basically a series of web films released online and made in part by filmed contributions from Facebook followers of the story. An amazing mix of storytelling, technology, strategy and innovation. I was impressed because I had never heard of it (most everything that won last week had been appropriately pre-hyped to death), so it was a nice surprise. But what really stand out is the complexity and ambition of this project. You know how when a professional basketball player shoots a free throw, you can imagine what it feels like? Likewise with much of the winning work, I can imagine being involved in creating something like that. But this one…I don’t even know how people do it. A big part of the appeal of Cannes is setting a high benchmark…and then seeing how people consistently surpass it and push the boundary further. Check out the winning case study below.

Letter Q black icon

Quality: Much of the winning work at Cannes is crafted to such a high polish that it sparkles. It is quality advertising that makes the brand proud. I like that there is a craft category, because it recognizes that beyond the almost mystical powers of a great idea, there is also tremendous power in a wonderful execution. The Getty ad below won a gold for ALMAP BBDO for film craft in editing…but I think the music could just as easily been recognized. The Southern Comfort ad won a gold for film craft in casting…and I have to admit that guy just rocks. Like these two below…there are dozens and dozens that are the maximum expression of great photography, script writing music, cinematography, etc.

Letter R black icon


Rosé: For some reason, rosé wine (quick note: pronounced “rou-ZEI”, just like the flower, but with an accent on the second syllable. The R can only be pronounced in the French way if you are French…or Brazilian.) is the official drink of Cannes. It must have to do with a summer feeling, a Riviera je ne sais quoi…or maybe it’s just savvy marketing by the wineries, ready to dump all their unsold wine on eager tourists one week a year. I’d easily bet that one sips more rosé in Cannes than they will in the whole rest of the year combined. If you win a lion, you go to the Carlton and order a big bottle of Champagne? No. You order a big bottle or rosé. And they do sell bottles that are the size of small children, as you can see in the adjoining photo.

Letter S black icon


Ogilvy São Paulo: What to say about these guys? Five years ago they’re a decent creative office. Then they become a top creative office within Ogilvy. Last year at Cannes they were ranked the 3rd most creative office in the world, which was unbelievable. This year, they were number one. In the world. In the entire world, including the luminaries that everyone always thinks of, the Wiedens, the Drogas, the BBHs, the BBDOs, etc. Number one. Most offices are thrilled to shortlist. Win 1 silver lion or a couple of bronzes and it’s a banner year…hell win a gold and careers are made. This year Brazil won: 2 Grand Prix, 16 Gold Lions, 4 Silver Lions, 12 Bronze Lions and 24 shortlists. It’s almost grotesque. What’s best is that I’m lucky enough to actually know these folks: so I know they did it with hard work, without cutting corners, on real brands and with huge creative ideas that make a difference. An inspiration. Once again, parabens, galera!

Letter T black icon

Twitter (and social media) overload: Cannes can get so intense with mobile overload that, upon leaving one would welcome a couple of days in a monastery, or camping, or wherever there isn’t electricity or a wireless connection. At Cannes there is wi-fi everywhere, and if the talk gets just even the slightest bit boring…people are immediately looking down at their phones. Tweeting about what is going on. Updating Facebook. Checking the schedule on the Cannes App. Catching up on Linkedin. Having a peek at Adage, or Adweek, or Adlatina. It’s non-stop. When you go have lunch or dinner…no problem, every place has free wi-fi, and so the madness continues. It can get a little overwhelming. On the more positive side, Rai Inamoto, the president of the mobile jury, pulled a stunt that I thought was pretty cool as he opened up his segment during the awards ceremony. He asked everyone to pull out their mobile phone and hold it up towards him. He took a picture. He tweeted it. He wrote “Admiring the stars of “#CannesLions at the Palais”. In seconds we had the picture in our own phone, via twitter. It all took less than a minute. Pretty amazing world we live in. Here you have it below.


Letter U black icon

Unexpected discoveries: In the age of the internet, YouTube and blogging, if you pay attention to creativity you can pretty much be aware of most of the good work out there as it comes out throughout the year. Cannes often serves as a culminating recognition for great work that has been seen many times over, and this is great and well deserved. So it’s a special double treat when you discover work that is great AND you had not seen ever before. It’s the thrill of greatness and newness, all wrapped up. I’m sure you’ve seen and enjoyed Dove’s real Beauty Sketches…but I had never seen Dove’s “Cameray Shy”, a Gold Lion Winner for Ogilvy London. Brilliant, isn’t it? Amazing insight, powerful message, wonderfully executed…this got a huge round of applause, a real delight. And, if you’re not British, perhaps you may have missed the unbelievable “Meet the Superhumans” a Channel 4 promotional ad for the Paralympics last year. Crank up the volume and prepare to be amazed. This one also got a roar of delight when it was screened as they picked up their Gold Lion. Discovering these “hidden” gems makes a special event even more magical.

Letter V black icon

Viral: “Dumb Ways to Die” has been viewed more than 51 million times on YouTube so far. Dove “Real Beauty Sketches” more than 55 million times. Last year’s Chipotle “Back to the Start” ad, 8 million times. And Dodge RAM’s “The Farmer”, 15 million times. Even a small activation on the streets of Singapore, Coke’s “Sharing Can” has been viewed over 1.5 million times. Media budgets are great, but we live in a time where amazing ideas, expertly produced, simply cannot be contained. There are so many channels, outlets, devices and means to get out the message! Advertisers sometimes speak wistfully of the 60s, when you had 3 networks in the US and if you had a good TV ad it would pretty much be seen be everyone. But think of all the good ideas for that didn’t make the cut…because their brands didn’t have a media budget! I’d much rather take my chances now.

Letter W black icon

Wieden + Kennedy: 2013, Independent Agency of the Year. 2012, Independent Agency of the Year, and also Agency of the Year overall. 2011, Independent Agency of the Year, 2010, runner-up to Independent Agency of the Year. I mean, seriously! When they were announced winners this year, it caused zero stir, zero surprise, it was almost dull. This is what it means to be damn good. There is plenty of healthy jealousy and petty sniping between the “large” agencies…but not many people seem to have a single bad thing to say about Wieden.  And it’s not like they’re a tiny boutique shop in Soho…they’re a major agency with offices in multiple big cities around the world, doing work on mega brands for now decades. Whatever it is that they’re doing, probably more people should be paying attention and trying to emulate it.

Letter X black icon


Stephane Xibèrras: Stephane is the CCO at BETC, the largest and one of the most creative French agencies. Among their many memorable achievements are last year’s magnificent “The Bear”, for Canal+. He gave a lovely little Master Class session entitled “From Lion to Skunk”, about how little decisions turned great ideas into terrible ones. Funny, self deprecating, charming and honest, he left me with one of my favorite quotes from the week. After explaining that the difference between good ideas and bad ones is often in the details, he stated, in a fantastically thick French accent, that  “…everybody can have an idea. THEN the work begins!” So true. And to his credit, he didn’t just tell us, he showed us. He took great, acclaimed ads from the past (such as “Gorilla” for Cadbury Dairy Milk) and then he went into client-from-hell mode: “I love it! Fantastic! Let’s DO it. (wait for it..wait for it…) BUT (bingo!)…only a few details…we need more energy, no? And a demo? Where is the demo? And I hate Phil Collins, is there something else”. Then, to our delight, he showed us the revised ad that emerges when those little tiny tweaks are made. What made it so funny and meaningful…was that the ads weren’t horrible…they were like every average ad that you see on TV! The aberration, the great ad turned bad for a few poor choices, was exactly the mediocrity you’d expect, but no worse than so many others. The lesson here? The difference between mediocre and great is razor thin. Details matter, obsess over them. Fight for the right to make the right choices. Wonderful.

Letter Y black icon


Young Lions: There is a category of attendee at Cannes called the Young Lions. It’s a brilliant move by the organizers as it begins the process of training, educating and inspiring the future leaders or our industry from an early age. They have a dedicated area, dedicated parties, and dedicated classes and seminars. Many agencies invest in selecting a few Young Lions from around the world and bringing them over to Cannes, and it’s great to hang out with them and take in their enthusiasm. The bad part is that it makes all the other “old lions” feel old as hell.

Letter Z black icon

ZZZZZ: This signifies all Cannes attendees come Sunday morning…people in the airports and planes were passed out hard. I’m sure it’s also many of you reading this post…which somehow seemed like a clever idea when I started, got incredibly long and out of hand, but it was one of those where I was on K and couldn’t just stop, now could I? I hope it gave you a small window into the eclectic, fascinating, maddening, uplifting experience that is Cannes.Last year was my first time ever, this year was my lucky repeat, and I hope to be there again next year, and maybe pick up a lion or two for work that makes us all proud. Most of all, I hope I get to see you there, walking down La Croisette, at a Master Class, at Gutter Bar, at the Palais, or hell…maybe even up on stage, picking up a lion or two for work that makes us all proud!


Ad of the Day – June 25 (Berlin)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: BBDO
  • Location: Berlin
  • Client: Smart Car
  • Name: Offroad
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Gold Lion winner last week, and one of the audience favorites (most likely because this one hadn’t been seen to death. They project the gold winners on the big screen, and it was the first time I had seen it, at least.) Funny, engaging, memorable fantastic use of soundtrack, crystal clear communication of benefit…all the basics are really well covered, and you walk off with a great feeling for this car, right? Yet, observe: the car is ridiculed for the first 43 seconds, and then shown in a positive light for only 3-5 of the final seconds! This probably breaks every by-the-book rule of car marketing, it’s probably the greatest fear of the classically trained marketer, it’s not in the best practices guidebook, it probably was not liked by a panel of focus group attendees, it’s one that makes the board room uncomfortable…right? And that is why it works. That is what it takes. In a crowded category, when others zig, you must zag. Follow the rule book, and you’ll have a perfectly solid, entirely forgettable result. Who dares, wins. Will you dare?

Ad of the Day – June 14 (Amsterdam)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: JWT
  • Location: Amsterdam
  • Client: Nationale Nederlanden (insurance)
  • Name: Do Re Mi
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: (watch the ad first) Take a song that is super-charged with nostalgia and emotional color (yet seldom if ever is heard in TV commercials). Bring it to life in a modern setting, with plenty of whimsy and wholesome family fun. Once you’ve got your audience in a very specific mental space…give them a surprising twist (without letting go of the good vibe!) and introduce your brand while the attention is at a peak. Nicely done! Now, to be fair, I think they don’t “connect the dots” to the brand/benefit clearly enough, it’s somewhat murky in the last 10 seconds….but the initial effect is so delightfully fresh (and the twist so unexpected) that the ad stays in your mind, and upon second viewing you’ll get it. More importantly, it gets people talking about your ad, which if you’re in the insurance business is quite a coup!

Ad of the Day – June 13 (Zurich)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!


Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Advico Y&R
  • Location: Zurich
  • Client: Total (detergent)
  • Name: “Penguins”
  • Category: Print

Why I like it: When absolutely all has been said and done, sometimes the way in which you execute can make a standard benefit feel fresh, even interesting. Every choice made in this print ad is well-taken, if simple – from the style of illustration, to the typography, to the snowflakes and subtle lens flare, and more. And best of all, they are in the service of clearly communicating the product benefit. It really doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this…

Ad of the Day – June 11 (Paris)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Smarter Cities OOH 3

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Paris
  • Client: IBM
  • Name: People for smarter cities
  • Category: OOH

Why I like it: Cannes can be such a lottery that making predictions is a fool’s game. But I’m going to be a fool right now and guarantee that this outdoor campaign will pick up at least one Lion next week. There’s too much that is awesome about it for it to go unnoticed…it’s exactly what I think judges will be looking for: A simple, “why didn’t I think of that before!” idea. Credible integration with the brand and its message. A great example of “show, don’t tell” (instead of just talking about IBM being useful to cities…these OOH boards are useful!). Use of media that transcends its normal limitations (this isn’t just a print ad made big.) A fetching case video. A sub-category that may likely has less competition than others. Fantastic work. Advance congratulations to my colleagues in Paris:)

Six client quotes that will kill great creativity (and bunnies)


eagles_bunny cropped

I haven’t seen truly great work get killed in one meeting, by one single thing said/done by client.

In my experience great ideas start getting killed on the outer edges – not in a frontal attack. That’s why it’s so hard to guard against this insipid threat. The all-too-common result is not the instant death of a great idea, but the slow, almost imperceptible degradation of “great” into “good”, or “ok”, or even “meh”. And then, months later, you and your client find yourselves asking “what the hell happened?”

Below are 6 quotes that clients (and account managers who channel clients!) should stay away from, if they’re serious about aspiring to greatness in creativity. Wherever these words are spoken, great ideas are in danger.

cat 11. “This is how we’ve always done it before” – Being afraid to be different is a killer, because almost all great creative work is different in at least some way. For every appeal to “not re-invent the wheel” and “leverage best practices” I can show you 10 car ads that look and feel exactly the same. What this gets you is work that your marketing VP will approve and feel comfortable with…and work that a consumer will completely ignore. Getting noticed is step zero. Repeating a formula (even a good formula) without adding any new wrinkle or innovative touch will eventually turn your great idea into something that nobody notices.

cat 22. “Our consumers are not that savvy, they won’t get it…this is not them” – Underestimating your consumer is so 1960’s. (Yet even back then David Ogilvy was saying “The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.”) Knowing consumers well is crucial, but underestimating them is all-too-common and can be deadly. It’s not just about reflecting reality, about giving them exactly what they ask for. It’s about having them ask for what you give them. Greatness comes from leading, from pointing the way forward that nobody even knew was there. Who in a 1999 focus group ever said they needed an iPod? Nobody did. A personal lack of bravery as a marketer is deadly to greatness (albeit completely understandable: everyone has a mortgage, a family to feed, etc.) But let’s not be so ready to blame consumers for it.

cat 33. “I need to bring some key stakeholders into this” – Greatness rarely (if ever) happens by committee. Each layer of review and adjustment is a layer of likely degradation, and extremely unlikely improvement. Get the stakeholders aligned before, have clarity on the “hard data” (marketing objective, claims, etc.), let the creative process happen, and then set up a review process that is driven by one person with clear authority and vision. Anything else is politics – politics in your company may be a reality, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that it can lead to great work.

cat 44. “Now, I’m not a creative, but let me throw some ideas on the table” – Next time, stop after the 5th word. Just stop. That phrase is exactly like saying “no offense, but…” and then saying something offensive. Dear client: Your role is to focus on the outcome, the agency’s role is to deliver the very best way to get to that outcome. If you’re not feeling good about the work, say so – but always talk about what you need to achieve, not how you need for it to be achieved. The first part is your domain, after all you do marketing for a living. The second is the domain of creative professionals, who after all do creativity for a living. Of course, this all assumes you trust your creative team. If you don’t trust your creative team, the problem is either with you or with them, but it’s a problem that needs to be worked out before you can aspire to great work. And, to be fair, there are clients that, through instinct or training, have acquired a finely tuned eye for creativity and the creative process. You’ll know you’re this type when the senior-most creative in the agency speaks to you as a peer, and you’ll see the respect in their eyes. Until then, you aren’t.

cat 55. “Sally why don’t you start, and then we’ll go around the table” – The practice of having the junior-most person start with their critique of the work and then onwards up the hierarchical ladder accomplishes the wrong thing. It might help as a training tool for young marketers to learn to speak up and have an opinion (I stress “might”… most likely it just trains them in the art of anticipating the boss’ thinking instead of their own, and in the notion of humility as their comments are invariably ignored once the attention finally moves to the big boss’ comments). What it will do almost for sure is kill or maim great work through an overabundance of “builds”, lack of clarity on what needs to be addressed, and lack of focus on the criteria for evaluating the work. It becomes an ego-pleasing theater that has little to do with protecting and strengthening the idea, and more to do with escaping the meeting with the idea as intact as possible. If one wants to do creative evaluation training, the agency will be delighted to help, and they’ll do it for free. But don’t use real (potentially great) work as a training material.

cat 66. “This is not about creativity, this is about driving the business” – Oh boy. Meeting over. Except it shouldn’t be. The link between superior creativity and strong business results has been proven quantitatively. We’ve always felt this in our gut, but there’s a whole book by James Hurman called “The Case for Creativity” which I urge you and your client to read together because it systematically proves the case that the two are completely intertwined (click here for the slideshare). My favorite quote in the book comes from BBH and says “Our objective is effectiveness. Our strategy is creativity.” Yes sir! Until your client understands this and believes in it, you will only arrive at truly great ideas by accident. Because client and you will both, in your hearts, be going after different things, and the ensuing struggle will tear the greatness to shreds. Only by understanding that we are after the same thing can we let go a bit, and give great ideas a chance.

Have any quotes to contribute? Let me know in the comments section!

Coming soon: Six quotes spoken inside of agencies which are a death sentence for great creativity.

Photo credit atop the page: A 2013 ad for the Eagle Print Awards, by King James, Capetown, South Africa.

Ad of the Day – June 10 (Moscow)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!


Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Moscow
  • Client: Philips
  • Name: “Before. After.”
  • Category: Print

Why I like it: One of those simple, “why didn’t anyone think of this before?” ideas that work so well. And I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about the way that this one is executed that forces the eye to linger even after you’ve gotten the message. Good idea, nice tagline, great execution…inspiring work by Ogilvy Moscow.

Ad of the Day – June 7 (Singapore)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: BBH
  • Location: Singapore
  • Client: Chupa Chups (lollipops)
  • Name: Lillipop street artist
  • Category: FIlm

Why I like it: There is a lot of finely calibrated balance at play in this web film. The most obvious is the “is this for real or is this an ad?” question – this question alone can be quite powerful (it has underpinned entire theatrical films) and here they play it very well…never entirely giving it away, and balancing in enough to keep you guessing. Also well balanced is the branding…subtle enough to be there, but not overt enough to every break the spell. And the  plot: a very unusual premise, yet built around recognizable themes like “tourist abroad”. Even the timing: a little longer and you lose the edge and focus. A little shorter and you decrease the rising tension. Just four of many dozens of choices that were made along the way and handled “just right”. The result has replayability, brandability, and sharability…three ingredients of a good web film that now has a chance to go viral!

Bonus content: Have a look at the follow-up “reveal” video, it’s great (click here). Notice how they re-calibrate very cleverly: they greatly ramp up the brand presence, in a way that is still subtle, even funny. They keep a little bit of the mystery. And they increase the humor throughout the video, leaving you with a smile and positive feelings towards the brand. Expertly managed: from high mystery, high interest, low branding…to high humor, high interest, high branding.

Ad of the Day – June 6 (Cairo)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: JWT
  • Location: Cairo
  • Client: Dolceca (ice cream)
  • Name: Aqua Mangos
  • Category: Web film

Why I like it: I love every second of this film. It’s the most ridiculous premise ever…but it’s carried out with such commitment, passion and attention to detail that it completely hooks you and wins you over with its irrepressible charm. The commitment and passion is shown by the characters (who play it straight, which makes them truly funny), and is evident because there is no corner-cutting in production: they went out and rented the boat, cast the crew, and actually filmed this silly story. A minor miracle, because one can imagine so many “yeah, but…:” moments along the way. And the attention to detail…most videos are happy to have one good gag, here they are gently scattered everywhere: from being told what to do with an extinct fish (“kill it”…”but, it’s extinct!”), to the hyper-combative Filipino crewman, to the oddly cross-eyed navigation officer, and more.  A real gem coming at us from Egypt!