Ad of the Day – August 1 (Milan)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Com.unico
  • Location: Milan
  • Client: Swatch
  • Name: Scuba Libre
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Occasionally a tvc can succeed by the sheer strength of its execution. A visual hook, a special effect, a film treatment, a particular production value – all employed with originality and flair, to capture the imagination. This Swatch ad takes a child’s daydream and brings it to life with stunning beauty, conveying both the serenity and the excitement of the ocean, juxtaposed to dramatic effect with our everyday world. On execution alone this ad has enough merits to stand out…you could plug just about anything at the end and it would get noticed. But…when the reveal comes and it’s for an under-water watch, delightfully named “scuba libre”, by a brand known for its whimsy and color…then it really all comes together. The strategy, the creative idea, the expression, the role of the product…It all explodes in a moment of clarity and you’re left with an “aha” moment that gets you not only noticed…but also liked and remembered. That’s the ticket, and it’s lovingly brought to life in this effort from Milan.

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Ad of the Day – July 31 (Minneapolis)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Fallon
  • Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Client: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (casino)
  • Name: Misfit right in
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Let’s say you’re sitting on a couch watching tv and this comes in the middle of the commercial break. Your first reaction as it ends is to think “…wtf was that?” Your second action is maybe to reach for your remote, and rewind it so you can see it once  more. Upon second viewing you once again think “…wtf???”, but you do make a mental note that it’s for Cosmopolitan Casino. Maybe you watch it a third time. Or maybe you decide you hate it. Or certainly the next time you catch it you nudge your friend and say “…this is the one! Check it out! wtf, right?!”. Weeks later, when your friends mention a Las Vegas trip, the first think you think is “Cosmopolitan Casino”. Mission…accomplished. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I really doubt it would pass quantitative ad research…but this ad has a point of view. It has something interesting to say, and it does so differently, without relying on cliches. It doesn’t talk down to the viewer. It dares to alienate, even as it aspires to be pop video art. It takes a chance, and just for that fact it’s a rare breed among its “peers” in the commercial break. And best of all, this is no accident: this client and agency have been pushing the envelope for a couple of years now. Good on them for daring to stand apart. More, please.

Bonus Content: More from these folks: a previous Ad of the Day, and for Queen fans

Ad of the Day – July 30 (London)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Spreading Jam
  • Location: London
  • Client: Internet Explorer
  • Name: Eddie the Inventor
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Normally the work shared here has some observable “thing” that helps to make it great (either within the idea, the execution or if they’re lucky, both.) To that you add  a bit of invisible “magic dust” element…normally it has to do with courageous decisions, or sheer talent…things that are harder to spot but are definitely felt and seen in the final results. This web video for Internet Explorer is unusual because it has no big “technical” achievement, so I can’t easily tell why I love it…but I find it hilarious. Imagine the script on paper, 90% of the time it would come out as not-funny, another 9% as merely amusing, and this 1% (to me) made me laugh out loud. I reckon this film is made up almost entirely by the courage to go for it, plus the unique comedic talents of the protagonist and the writers…all stuff that’s difficult to measure, or even perceive…and probably quite niche in its output…but boy does it work. Going for it and trusting the talented people is sadly not a common-enough approach…(probably because even that is no guarantee..!) so it’s refreshing to see such a naked example of it for a major brand.

Ad of the Day – July 25 (San Francisco)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Google Creative Labs
  • Location: San Francisco
  • Client: Google Chrome
  • Name: For Bigger Fun
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: “Oh, cool! I want it!” Isn’t that the desired objective for most advertising…the best case scenario? That’s how this one worked on me. There are two halves to the equation: first you have a product that is actually cool and desirable – solving a need, offering a new way to do things, etc. Often you don’t have this, so you do your best to create some sort of relevance and desire. But when it already comes pre-baked into the actual product, as it is here, it’s a beautiful thing. (This is the kind of edge that Apple, Google and others normally bank on for their advertising.) The second half is to touch people emotionally. To make the message feel special, close, human. The casting, the situations, and the minute reactions and interactions that make up this film are all so natural and relatable that you can’t help but be engaged, to feel a part of it. Once the film concludes, your head wants the product, and your heart feels good about wanting the product. A powerful combination!

Ad of the Day – July 24 (Austin)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: GSD&M
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Client: Pacifico beer
  • Name: Spin the bottle
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: Upon first viewing, this lovely beer spot has it all. A relaxed summer feel (largely in part to its fabulous music track), a joyful sense of group bonding and adventure, and the beer at the very core of the action through the clever “spin the bottle” device. It really grabs you and gets Pacifico into your brain even as you start daydreaming of warm summer nights. Digging a little deeper, it’s interesting to see what the brand isn’t – it’s not for “bros”, it’s not for bars, it’s not for night, it’s not for sports, it’s not for action…all cliches of a crowded category. It’s about freedom, discovery, close friends…with the brand as the gentle instigator, as lovingly captured in the tagline “Do you take Pacifico places…or is it the other way around?” Count me in – where to next?

Ad of the Day – July 23 (Madrid)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

01_aotw03_aotw02_aotwToday’s pick:

  • Agency: China
  • Location: Madrid
  • Client: Schweppes
  • Name: Iggy
  • Category: Print

Why I like it: Great print ad! It might be liked or hated, but it won’t be ignored. I’m sure it was tough to pull off (it always is…), but it’s tempting to picture this one as an example of when everything just “clicks” in advertising: we start with a product that is meaningfully different (more tart/bitter)…An interesting strategy (maybe we overdid it!..this is not for everyone!) A great creative idea with the brand at the core (Maybe too Schweppes?)…brought to life through great copywriting (“the Schweppiest Lemon Schweppes”,)…elevated and amplified by a masterful celebrity casting (if it’s too hardcore for Iggy, that’s saying a LOT, and also the fact that he’s one of the most wrinkly, visually distinctive celebs out there)…and executed with flair (the photography and art direction are superb). Everything just works, from product, to brief, to strategy, idea and execution. Wish it were always so easy! In the end, you’re left with an arresting visual that communicates an interesting product truth in a unique and memorable manner. That’s not too Schweppes, it’s just right!

Bonus content: If you’re a fan of Iggy (or Schweppes) check out the TVC.

Ad of the Day – July 22 (Johannesburg)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: OwenKessel
  • Location: Johannesburg
  • Client: Amstel lager
  • Name: Chef
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: There is much about this that seems like a formulaic story of overcoming adversity, holding on to your dream, etc….and yet, it totally worked for me. There is something different about the way this is put together that makes the film immediately interesting, even inspiring. That “something” is hard to pin down: is it the great music track, that builds and flows with the story without overpowering the piece? Is it the choice to have both the original VO and the English version overlapping each other, adding a genuine feel and bringing us closer to the protagonist’s story? Or is it the great casting and tight editing, which gives depth and human interest to the kitchen crew and makes us care about them during their celebration? It’s all that and much more – who said this stuff was easy? Skeptics may say that there is not enough branding, or that the brand message is similar to others in the category, or even that people will walk away thinking it’s an ad for the ubiquitous Amstel Light, and not for Amstel Lager- and they’d probably be right, too. But on the other hand, this film got noticed, got shared , and made us aware that there is such a thing as Amstel Lager. In this category, that’s called an auspicious start.

Bonus content: check out the other film in this series. Really nice too, with a slightly different structure and energy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJFVjotVtxQ

Ad of the Day – July 5 (Dusseldorf)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Dusseldorf/Frankfurt
  • Client: Kontor Records
  • Name: Back to vinyl
  • Category: Direct Mail

Why I like it: It’s rare these days to feature a piece of direct mail, but this one really stands out for its innovation…so unexpected, and hence quite delightful. The DM medium is beleaguered these days, but even the most tech-obsessed person watches this case video and says “wow…awesome!” The ease of interaction (no app downloads!), the transformation of a paper illustration into a “live” turntable, the blending of the old-world analog vinyl with the new-era digital playback, the fun interactivity (being able to move the needle is a key touch), and the pleasant subject matter (who doesn’t like to hear some tunes in the office?)…all just right, in a most charming way. Now, interestingly, what stands out here is the innovation (how they did it) much more than the idea itself. Yet, this is still clearly creative. Which begs the question, is technical innovation another form of creativity? I believe so. And the industry is increasingly recognizing it as a separate achievement/category. Perhaps the nuance is that innovation does not necessarily come pre-packaged with a soul…so it can be quite cold. The most powerful combination is when innovation is wrapped around an idea (ie, the soul), when the innovation elevates a strong idea. This is when things really start to shine. It’s the topic for a much broader discussion:)

Cannes Gold Lion winner (two of them)

Ad of the Day – July 4 (New York)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: W+K
  • Location: New York
  • Client: Southern Comfort (bourbon)
  • Name: Shampoo
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: This campaign is a gem, it shines bright for its courage and its flair. This is the second ad in the series, and it sustains the momentum and the “wtf?” fascination of the first ad (if you haven’t seen the classic, Gold lion-winning first ad, click here.) The flair is in the little details: the way he just goes ahead and checks the woman out…the old-fashioned shape of his glasses…his snakeskin boots…the real-world sexiness of the woman…her subtle smile of acknowledgement…his retro ring and bracelet…all of these details set off fireworks of secondary thoughts in your brain, and add depth and story to a narrative where seemingly not much is happening. But let’s talk about the courage, because as I watch this ad I have an ongoing thought of “wtf? this…is oddly awesome…I don’t know how to feel about this but I’m drawn to it. How did they ever pull this off?” Ask a FMCG client or account person about the ideal process to get out an ad and they might say something like: 1. concept testing/validation, 2. write-up a tight, specific brief, 3. develop creative that addresses all the nuances of the brief, 4. qualitative testing to make sure consumers get it, 5. quantitative testing to hopefully have statistical validation/guarantee of the breakthrough, comprehension, and forecasted efficacy of ad, 5. Hire director to “shoot the animatic”, without much deviation from what has been validated. We may talk about creative excellence, but really the driving factor here is to minimize RISK, to get it as close to zero as possible. This has a side effect: it eliminates the need for courage. It makes sense, after all there is big money at stake, careers, etc. So that’s fine. But let’s be clear: without risk, without courage at some point, there is no chance at all for great creativity. There. just. isn’t. In the example above, I’m sure they went through steps 1,2,3 and had a nice little strategy and brief. And then…they went off-road. How do you even present an ad like this? What is it even about? An oddly-semi-cool guy getting his hair washed? Imagine the leap of faith required! Going with this campaign takes courage, it assumes risk, it gives a feeling of mild discomfort, dread, and excitement. I doubt they tested it for validation. And I bet that they hired a talented director that added a thick layer of opinion on how the idea comes to life. And that…is how you get to great creativity. It’s messy, often risky, and requires courage and guts along the way. It’s a simple recipe to jot down, but a very hard dish to cook.