Client: 20th Century Fox Chasing Mavericks (a surfing movie)
Name: “Surfing NYC”
Category: Ambient/viral video
Why I like it: Orange skies at dawn. Quiet stillness all around as two surfers go through their preparation rituals, they gently glide onto their trusted boards and paddle into position as they become one with the undulating…streets of Manhattan(!) What do I like most about this web video? That they really went for it. This is in support of a surfing movie premiering this weekend in the US and it’s an interesting concept. But think how easy it would have been for them to go at it half-way. They could have used skateboards. Or the hills of Central Park, or done something on the East River. Or used many other shortcuts and visual metaphors to sell the same idea. But no, they set out to “surf” the streets of Manhattan and they sure did it, in every way except for the water. Everything about the clip, from the mellow soundtrack to their wetsuits, to their placid movements on the boards said “surfing”…and against the urban backdrop the result was…pretty unique. Surely this is a pretty niche action, and if you don’t already know about the movie they didn’t do a good job of linking it or telling you a little more – so it may not be perfect by any means. But it made me think of surfing, it gave me a nice little moment of urban NYC daydreaming, and it put the movie on my mental map. Mission accomplished!
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Location: Los Angeles
Client: Rainforest Alliance
Name: “Follow the Frog”
Category: Film/viral video
Why I like it: The humor and executional style made me want to watch it again. It made me feel good towards the brand/message being “sold”. And it made me want to share it with others. What more can one ask for?! Let’s say your client has a message, some production money and no media budget. They come to you and ask you to create and produce content that will help spread the message. Here’s what you’re not going to do: You’re not going to mention the word “viral” at any time before the job is a success (it’s only viral once it becomes viral, until then it’s just content!). You’re not going to treat this as a tv commercial (a tvc is backed by millions in media to get seen, yours is only backed by the quality of the content!). You’re not going to rely on social media to “make it huge” (you have to push it and nudge it, social media is a channel not a guarantee of amplification!). What you are going to do is create the very best content you’ve ever done – content that has replayability, brandability, and sharability. If you do that, and do it very well, maybe you can call it a viral video someday!
Why I like it: The “torture test” ad is as old as creativity itself, and it continues to be used reliably in all types of ads (cars, detergents, technology, services, apparel, home improvement…you name it). Why? Because it has a very simple structure: an exaggerated creative hook (the “torture test”) that gets your attention and at the same time dramatizes the benefit. Note that this connection between the interesting part of the ad and the product benefit is key. Here I think they check all the boxes, and the result is a real attention-getter for a travel booking service. As always, big credit goes to having an idea that is daring, and then actually managing to get it done. How many times during the process did the thought “yeah, that would be really great, but we can’t really pull it off. How can we make it just as interesting but a little bit more viable?” go through the mind of the account person/producer/brand manager? Ideas are only “real” if they get produced. Thankfully this one did.
Bonus: Here is the first ad in the series. Just as cool:)