What makes great creative for multi-channel campaigns?
I wrote this for this month’s mediaPro magazine. They asked for a page or two. I gave them three… So much to say and I had to cut loads out too. Anyway, if you have a spare 20 minutes, I think it’s worth the read. Some great examples in here too.
Someone recently said that most things called ‘viral’ these days are simply TV ads with no media budget. Upload to YouTube, tell a few mates and hope that they’ll tell their mates and so on. Unless it’s a) really offensive, b) really rude, c) really blasphemous, or d) really really funny (and bare in mind, everyone’s definition of funny is different), it doesn’t stand a chance. However, there is one way to give a film a good chance of success without media spend: ‘make it awesome’. If, as Leif Abraham and Christian Behrendt say, the response is ‘Holy sh*t! They really did this!?’, then you’re on to a winner. In fact, this applies to any campaign, any media.
Leif and Christian are co-authors of a brilliant ebook called ‘Oh my god what happened and what should I do?’ – free to download at www.ohmygodwhathappened.com. I thoroughly recommend reading it to anyone who works in advertising and marketing. It is what your job will be, if it isn’t already. That is, if you are not interactive right now, you soon will be or you’ll be stacking shelves.
This one’s a killer too: bit.ly/9NZuOh – social media stats that will blow you away. With over 500 million registered users on Facebook now and LinkedIn being any networker’s dream, no one can ignore this media’s potential for reaching audiences that are exactly right for any client’s product or service.
Putting my money where my mouth is, earlier this year as an experiment, I personally ran a campaign using Facebook advertising for a one-off event. It cost around £300 and the results were amazing. Of the 6,000 people who signed up in just 3 weeks, over 1,200 said they were coming to the event. However, less than 30 turned up – and that included friends of mine. Over 100 people clicked ‘attending’ while the party was taking place, some even after it had finished, but they never showed. Bizarre.
I have spoken to many people subsequently who all agree that there is a huge disconnect between the virtual and the real world. If all you people to do is click, great (and that includes click to purchase). If you have to do something for real (go somewhere, take part in something with other people, meet human beings in the flesh), it’s a whole different story. My theory is that you can be anyone you want to be online; fulfill every fantasy, have thousands of friends, be the coolest kid on the block, join in everything. But it’s not real. It’s all pretend. The important bit for advertisers is how to harness this state of mind.
These days, it is not enough to get noticed – you have to be spoken about. The best campaigns know this and no agency worth its salt simply churns out TV ads any more. They’re part of multi-layered, multi-media onslaughts – and all the better for it.
Everyone now has a say. Advertising that preaches no longer has a place. Imagine someone who spends all his or her time telling you all about themselves and how wonderful they are. You’d soon get bored. The more you involve the audience rather than simply talking at them as passive non-contributors, the more they feel engaged and important.
‘Watch your own heart attack’ (www.2minutes.org.uk) was one particularly powerful press and poster headline which drove you online to see a short film for the British Heart Foundation. It shows a disturbing yet unforgettable and highly informative 2 minute long film. Imagine how much it would have cost to air that on TV.
I still believe the best creative work is that which dramatises the benefit to the consumer. Take The Best Job in the World by Queensland Tourist Board. Tiny little B&W press ads placed in newspapers across the globe announcing a truly fantastic job vacancy which anyone can apply for. And nearly 35,000 did. From every country in the world. In just a few weeks. Those on the shortlist were given their own PR agent in their respective countries to gather more votes. A lucky few were shipped to The Great Barrier Reef and one was chosen after they’d completed various tasks. All the while, the campaign showed off how amazing this part of Australia is and had the whole world talking about it – allegedly $500m PR coverage. And there was an hour long BBC documentary about it.
‘There is a place for a certain advertising that is much more conversational and transparent. Not all advertising has to be stealth.’ Dave Droga, Droga5
Only a few years ago, Droga5 launched with an outrageously audacious stunt for Marc Ecko, graffiti artist, who tagged Air Force One, the President’s plane. ‘Still free’ was spray-canned on the side. The fact that this was filmed at night on a camcorder allowed the agency to get away with mocking the whole thing up – it never really happened. Massive exposure worldwide from one simple idea – although a very costly one to execute. It was dropped anonymously onto 20 websites and caused a huge storm, even the Pentagon was forced to deny the authenticity three times. The estimated audience was 15 million. And not a penny spent on media…
Check out Droga5’s www.thegreatschlep.com and bit.ly/4CtFKH. A great strategic insight, this work highlighted the benefits to Jewish parents and grandparents (via their children) for voting Obama. And in its own small way, maybe it helped influence the outcome.
In this country, the TV licensing people tell us they know where we live and they’ll come and get us if we haven’t paid. In this stunning film, bit.ly/d6ZcBO (which you
can personalise easily and forward to a friend), you are called a hero for paying the fee. One attacks the negative, one celebrates the positive. I know which I prefer. (By the way, the link is now the sequel to the first film – not as good but still enthralling.)
If you haven’t had the treat of watching the simply jaw-dropping new Old Spice campaign, do yourself a favour and see it now: Old Spice (almost 21m views and counting.) This is TV at its best. And YouTube. And Twitter. And PR. This absolute gem has caused a frenzy of outright joy online with sheer media strategy brilliance added to outstanding creative. Celebrity Tweeters have been targeted with bespoke short films/ads sent to the direct via Twitter mentioning them by name. These are instantly shared with the millions that follow each of these ego-fuelled names. The only problem with this campaign from Weiden & Kennedy Portland is that it might actually encourage men to wear Old Spice – imagine smelling like your dad or grandad…
‘Instead of filling the gaps in between the entertainment that people watch, brands have the opportunity to create the entertainment itself. If we can tell genuinely entertaining stories that are authentic to the brand’s core values, then it’s good news for everyone – brands and audience, and that audience is entertained.’ Robert Saville, Mother
For the past couple of years, I’ve been banging on about what I call Participation Advertising. Think T-Mobile’s 13,500 singing karaoke in Trafalgar Square, Cadbury’s Wispa Gold outdoor campaign, Walker’s search of a new crisp flavour (Builder’s Breakfast won). All of these involve the general public and each of them incentivises its audience. The first two promise a slice of fame (you get seen in the TV commercials and on poster sites), the last one also comes with a cheque and royalties!
I read everywhere and everyone tells me that the future of advertising is digital and digital only. Forget TV – people record the programmes they want to watch so that they can see them later and fast forward through the ads. Forget press ads – there won’t be any more newspapers soon, all news content will be online. Forget direct mail – it’s too expensive, destroys forests for the paper and no one reads it anyway. Forget posters – no one remembers them and who actually reads them? Forget radio – as soon as the music stops so does the attention. Forget everything apart from banners, emails, microsites, Tweets, blog posts, Facebook ads, in fact, anything you can do online is good, anything you do offline is bad. The mere mention of any other media these days is done apologetically. It’s like we assume the whole world has a screen in front of their face 24/7 and doesn’t acknowledge anything else.
This is nonsense. Important as digital is, interactive is the most important direction all of our work is heading. Whether you interact on a PC/Mac, on your mobile, via a poster site, with your TV, by posting something or by actually turning up, there are multiple ways to get a response that is measurable. The worry I see these days though is that many clients simply cannot get their heads around any campaign that does not deliver instant sales. They need a demonstrable ROI to justify running any work. The fact that Samsung’s charming LED Sheep film – bit.ly/13wCQZ – has had nearly 12.5m doesn’t necessarily show that anyone has actually bought a TV. But that’s one hell of an audience choosing to tune in.
Nike have produced numerous some outstanding interactive work that genuinely and relentlessly reinvents the connection between consumer and brand. The Chain campaign was literally kicked off by Ronaldinho who kicked a football out of the camera frame. Viewers were invited to film the following link in the chain. The ball had to enter from the left and exit to the right. Over 40,000 films were submitted, 2,000 were selected and they made a 2 hour long film called The Chain which has been viewed by more than 20 million people.
Chalkbot was another Nike beauty where you could submit a message online and a robot would spray that message on the road for everyone to read. When I say everyone, I mean the entire audience of the Tour De France. You see, the messages were sprayed in yellow on the road the cyclists rode along. Messages of support. Messages of personal grief. Messages of hope. Pure interaction with the brand. You watch every part of the race to see if your message is shown. You tell everyone you know to watch to. Tweeting and blogging all the while. Genuis.
‘The principles haven’t changed at all, you now just need different places to find those consumers – sometimes they’re in longer form pieces of film, sometimes they’re in digital spaces, sometimes they are on TV, sometimes they are in print, sometimes they’re on the street.’ Robert Saville, Mother
A particular favourite of mine recently is Orcon’s ‘Together Incredible’ campaign. ‘Play live with Iggy Pop’ said the TV ads, posters, Facebook ads and online banners. 9 New Zealand musicians were needed to work with Iggy Pop to produce a new version of his iconic ‘Passengers’ track. Iggy chose his band from the huge number of auditions and coached them live online on the day to produce a brand new arrangement. This content was then used to make the follow up TV commercials. And all this to promote Orcon’s broadband – the fastest in New Zealand. Brilliant. A real live product demonstration. One hell of a lot better than the stomach-churning nonsense of Iggy’s Swiftcover car insurance ads.
‘There are more spaces to land your point of view now and more targeted places to put your idea. It’s still about the idea and how do we speak to them in, hopefully, a mass way.’ Richard Flinton, Fallon
Last year, 20:20 London won a Gold at the DMA Awards in the Mobile category, as well as in other categories for a campaign for the COI. I know because I judged it, and I loved it. How do you encourage teenagers to listen and engage with messages about sex education? Well, every one of them has a mobile phone. So why not create a mini drama that pans out over 26 weeks, one minute a week? You follow the teenage characters on blogs, watch them in the shows, and the storylines cover sex in an integral way, not overt.
For the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, I worked on a microsite and direct mail campaign last year. bit.ly/2C8oWb – You send in your favourite memory and we add it to a memory wall or just can key it in directly. In the mailer, we enclosed 10 Post-Its so you could encourage friends to add their memories too. Everyone can forward to friends online. Everyone gets asked for a donation. We grow the database. And everyone’s memories get saved f
‘If you look at advertising agencies traditionally, there was a kind of mystery around them, with the production of commercials or the production of print, with photographers or illustrators… But now it is so democratic, everybody is a graphic designer, everybody’s a photographer, everybody’s a filmmaker… That’s changed it a lot.’ Erik Kessels, KesselsKramer
Email is cheap media
Gap’s 30% off vouchers are emailed around for a three day special weekend at the end of every season. Stuff that goes in the Sale a couple of weeks later anyway gets sold off to people who think they’re special for receiving money off and can forward the vouchers to their friends. So they get two hits – nearly a third off and happy friends. Perfect. Data capture has gone up 450% as a result.
But every email you get looks the same. The same typeface, the same colour, the same few words trying to get your attention to open it. Even if it escapes your spam filter, it relies on you knowing the brand name, being interested in the offer or preferably both. But they work, they’re trackable instantly, and with the addition of personalised short films (such as Vismails), they can be really impressive.
Open minded clients
I believe what we do now is start conversations. For most of our clients, these conversations need to end in a sale. Getting people talking and doing in such a measurable way has never been more exciting with so many ways to motivate consumers and join them in the brand. For me, the less we have to spend on media, the more we get to spend on idea. Outsmart rather than outspend. But we must have clients who understand this and are willing to try something new. I have a portfolio stuffed with alternative media or interactive campaigns that have been received with adulation only to fall at the first hurdle: ‘But will it sell more products?’ I explain that people buy more from brands they like, brands they feel like them, know them and they are part of. Some take the plunge and are amazed and hooked. Most don’t. Yet.
The thing is, just as agencies are trying to keep up with all the opportunities to advertise, clients are no different.
The issue still lies with the fact that clients separate out their agencies into different boxes. Brand, direct, digital, PR, experiential, interactive, etc. And every agency is busy trying to proclaim their integrated offering. I’ve felt the hard stare many times when I’ve presented work that strays into the territory of one of the ‘other’ agencies. But it’s just so hard to live your creative life with blinkers on.
One last thought.
Until clients stop paying agencies for the deliverables and hours and start paying for ideas, unscrupulous agencies will continue to recommend media where they get the biggest kick-back, commission or mark-up. One of my previous agencies made ten times their creative fee through media commission. Pay for the idea and agencies will suggest what’s right for exposure rather than what’s right for a percentage.