Ad of the Day – September 16 (Chicago)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Energy BBDO
  • Location: Chicago
  • Client: Extra Gum
  • Name: Origami
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Wow, this one really sneaks up and delivers! You think it’s going to be a standard, semi-cheesy ad, a cliché picture of family bliss…and yet, the end reveal is surprisingly powerful. It forces an emotional response from even the most cynical. If you’re a parent, I’m betting this one will “get” you. And yet, as an advertising guy, what I marvel at the most on this one is the flawless integration of the brand/product into the story. One of the holy grails that we seek is an emotional, story-and-character driven ad that also credibly weaves the brand/product into the story (ideally as a catalyst of the action.) It’s so damn hard to do, because quite often the two are in direct conflict – the brand/product breaks the spell of the emotional narrative…and the emotional story gets in the way of us remembering the brand/product. So it’s a joy to watch on this one, from a technical point of view, how the gum is a credible, even integral part of the story. The multiple (!) product shots feel unforced, and even the wrapper is the object around which the entire emotional construct revolves around! Even the wonderful tagline “Give Extra, get Extra” manages to pull off the “emotional and branded” trick. This is all extremely hard and quite rare, so my hat is off to Dan and the team at EnergyBBDO Chicago for this mini-masterclass in emotional advertising. 

Ad of the Day – July 2 (Mumbai)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Taproot
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Mumbai Mirror (newspaper)
  • Name: “I am Mumbai”
Note:  (The quality is not great, but it’s the only one I could find with subtitles. Please watch it in full-screen format. And put the volume up loud, or wear headphones. You’ll get the full effect that way. Trust me.)
  • Why I like it: Of all the work I saw at Cannes this year this one was the one that got the loudest, most admiring spontaneous applause. Of the whole festival. This was shown during a talk given by BBDO on “craft”, where 3 ECDs dissected a favorite piece of recent work and showed us the attention to detail that went into it. This made it all the richer for me, but even upon first viewing I found this…just stunning. And the hundreds of people that broke out into awed applause were on the same wavelength. What emotional power! What gripping cinematics! What a haunting, building score! What immersive storytelling that draws you in with curiosity and keeps you guessing! What a deeper, touching message that stays with you long after the viewing! I mean, just awesome. To think that this is what advertising can be at its best…that’s inspiring. And what of the linkage to the product being advertised?(if not it would just be a short film, right?)The way it’s handled through the slates introducing each sequence, and then through the train shot at the end with the building score – masterful. This one goes right to the pantheon of the greats. Un-surprisingly, it won a Gold lion in the “film craft category”.


Ad of the Day – February 14 (Toronto)

Your daily dose of advertising awesomeness from around the world!

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Cossette
  • Location: Toronto
  • Client: McDonald’s
  • Name: “Flashback”

Why I like it: I just loved every teensy bit of this ad! Fom the casting, to the acting, to the stories, to the setting, to the subtle showcasing of the product, to the great nostalgic soundtrack. Just a real gem that totally surprised me and stayed with me. A few things are also at play which I find very interesting: a) Some brands are truly woven into the fabric of our lives, both from a cultural and historical standpoint, yet this can often be taken for granted. So when a brand makes a bold statement and shows that “they are us”, it can really resonate. A recent example of course is the Budweiser “Eternal Optimism” ad from the Superbowl. b) Some industries take a constant PR beating, fast food being on of the main victims. But instead of hunkering down and retreating in shame, McDonald’s is turning it around on us, as if saying “you know what? You love us. Deep inside you really love us”. And it’s true. We do. c) This ad would probably be completely void of impact to anyone under 30, because they just don’t have the life perspective to appreciate it. But it resonates heavily with people my age, who are looking at “old” down the road, but yet still very much remember and feel “young”. It’s interesting for McDonald’s to aim a little higher in their targeting than normal, and I totally loved them for it. A really inspired piece by Canadian agency Cossette (that’s 2 Canada related Ads of the Day this week so far! Can they keep up the streak?)

The “Zapruder” technique in advertising. A powerful shortcut to your gut!

As most of you will know, the Zapruder film is a hand-held film footage of the Kennedy assassination which, once shown to the public in 1975, became ingrained in the mind of everyone who was exposed to it. For those old enough, a whole slew of memories come flooding back at the very sight of these seconds of silent 8mm film.

Why do I bring up this sad piece of history? Because it reminds me of how certain historical images, footage and even sounds have such high emotional content that they act as time machines, bringing us back, immersing us, grabbing our attention. Many of them are sad (JFK), some are proud (man on the moon), and others are downright uplifting (fall of the Berlin wall, big national sporting wins, etc.) If we are seeking to touch people emotionally, these are a very powerful and effective shortcut to the place where emotion lies.

Now, it’s easy to decide to use these “shortcuts to the id”. It’s what you do when you get there that counts. Here are two different examples that I think work well in different ways. Both use sports memories as their flashback.

Peru: Bringing you in…and flipping it on its head – This was going to be an “Ad of the Day”, but there was more that needed to be said so it became the springboard for the whole post.

Now, to instantly get this example, you need to be a Peruvian male over 30, ok?

If you happen not to be…then know that Peru is a small but passionate soccer country. Their appearance in the 1978 world cup was the highlight of their history, and the very apex was a lovely free-kick goal in a victory against Scotland by “Nene” Cubillas. Watch the goal below carefully.

Remember, this is branded onto the brain of Peruvians. This is the most important goal in their history. Now watch the ad below: it was created at the government’s behest in response to a recent wave of violence which resulted in a death in a Peruvian stadium. It features the national hero Nene Cubillas reliving this historic moment, and it’s in Spanish, so for a version with subtitles click here.

Isn’t that just awesome? They tap into the emotion, they take you to that place. You’ve seen it 1,000 times before and know how it’s going to play out and are filling your lungs with pride…and then they switch it on you! History is changed! And it’s done to deliver a very powerful anti-violence message. Fantastic!

Argentina – an uncannily faithful recreation of a great moment – Back to soccer (I wrote earlier that sports were a powerful force in tapping emotions, didn’t I?) All Argentines remember Maradona’s second goal against England in the 86 world cup. It’s said by many (including myself) to be the greatest goal ever. If you need a refresher, have a look at it below. (an aside: below is also one of the best narrations of a goal you’ll ever hear)

Now watch this Coke ad. It’s in Spanish, but here’s the gist of it: Kid in the blue shirt gets into a pick-up game. Someone makes a hard foul and a guy goes “cool it, this is not the world cup here, we’re playing for a Coke”. “We’re playing for a Coke?” thinks our blue shirted hero…and then…

I loved everything about this ad from the first moment I saw it. Already the color of the shirt and the way he was dressed (short shorts!) made me think something was up. But then, from the very first dribble in mid-field on second 26 (seen in the still above), I knew exactly what this was about. It’s indelibly burned into my brain. The whole thing was fantastically executed. And thus, in one quick second, a tv borrows a treasure trove of good feeling from all consumers, and rides it out into a well delivered, feel-good message about coke. Seems simply in retrospect, but the magic is in the doing!

In summary, this so-called “Zapruder technique” (I just made that up, but the way, it’s not a real term!) is something that I think is a tremendously powerful shortcut into the world of emotions.

I’m surprised we don’t see it more often, because the rewards are tempting. But then again, this is not easy to pull off:

  1. You have to select the right shortcut. (The JFK one is probably not a good one…)
  2. You have to execute it properly to trigger the emotional shortcut.
  3. And most importantly, it’s what you do when you get there that counts: your brand and its message must be credibly and inextricably linked to the emotion and the moment you tapped into.

Creatives, who is up for it? I want to see more of this!

Readers, who can share a better example than the ones above?

I look forward to hearing from you, and as always, thank you for reading!