Dec 2012 03

I was thinking about the best Christmas commercials I’ve ever seen and one of the campaigns that came to mind was this one for Amazon from FCB.

It only looks like it’s way older than from 1999 and that was the whole joke. My mom had all these records for Mitch Miller and his ‘Gang’ when I was growing up. It was full albums of stuff like this from the 1950’s. I guess the idea was to get together, get smashed, and sing along.

In any case, it was a fun idea and a great campaign that really started to show that this crazy ‘internet’ might just be the next wave of great advertising opportunities for creative departments to sink their teeth into.

Still trying to dig up old info about this campaign but it seems to be the work of FCB and writer/CD Tom O’Keefe. More info if I find it. But classic…

Nov 2012 27

The “shop for someone or feel guilty” Christmas advertising rush is in full swing.

But if this spot for the UK’s department store John Lewis doesn’t put you in the giving mood or bring a little frosty tear to your eye, well I guess nothing will.

It’s not easy to pull off a genuine, emotional holiday ad. But DDB agency Adam & Eve and director Dougal Wilson do it well. This is a classic.

For examples of it done poorly, well, unfortunately you just have to turn on the TV. I for one will think twice before I kick a snowman this winter.

Nov 2012 22

A Creative Director friend always tells me, “Andrew, a song is not an idea.”

And he’s right. But sometimes, it can certainly hold things together. I guess a lot of songs could’ve ‘fit’ on this feel good TV spot, but this one feels right. And on American Thanksgiving, and a day when I hope the cease-fire in the Middle East holds up, it’s a good day to watch this and remember that we really can be nice to each other, if we choose to be.

Don’t worry… back to my usual, pessimistic, bitter spitting of bile next week!

Nov 2012 20

Well, everyone and their mother has watched this already. As I write this, it’s had 9 million views. But if you’ve been on an island, here it is. One of the best PSA messages I’ve ever seen.

A fun way to serve up a message. Every time I watch it, I see something new to laugh at. And all held together with an amazing track. Well done McCann Melbourne.

Executive Creative Director: John Mescall
Creative Team: John Mescall
Creative Team: Pat Baron
Animation: Julian Frost
Digital Team: Huey Groves
Digital Team: Christian Stocker
Senior Producer: Mark Bradley
Producer:Cinnamon Darvall
Composer/Producer:Oliver McGill

Have a tremendously satisfactory day
Nov 2012 15

A rather long-winded recanting of a story from my (not-so) illustrious career involving strange client demands. And cats.

Yesterday the Facebook status of a friend in advertising read: “Can you show light-hearted playfulness in her eyes?”. I assumed she was referring to some ‘feedback’ from a client and I remembered this true story from my long and (not so) illustrious career. And I thought I’d share it with my seven regular readers. Clients get a bad rap sometimes and it’s because of the odd one that is frankly just a wingnut. Most of them are actually just normal people who only want to do good advertising that their friends will talk about and they’ll feel good about too. Oh and of course, is effective so no one gets fired.

This is a ‘wingnut’ story.

Late 1990s and my Art Director partner and I are about a year into our first jobs in the business. We were put on what seemed like an easy project to develop our skills a bit — put a new ending onto an existing cat food commercial. The original spot was from the UK and the Canadian version of the product (with French on it, Mon Dieu!) needed to be shot and inserted into the 7 seconds at the end. So far, so good. My partner and I looked forward to a day on set with craft services free food (we were poor) and a couple of days in post-production where again we’d have a few free meals (really poor).

The only catch was that the product shot had to have a cat in it. The campaign ran around the world, and every country always had to reshoot the product with the same kind of cat next to it for the ending. Okay, still no problem. The producer just added one ‘cat wrangler’ to the budget.

After choosing a director, we got together with the client to present their storyboard before the shoot. The pre-pro. The storyboard was beautifully drawn. Lots of great details. About 4 panels. For those of you who aren’t in advertising (and why do you read my schlock if you’re not?), it’s a great way to get clients comfortable with spending a lot of money on a film shoot. It’s about $70,000 a day just to get a crew (with craft services) to show up. It’s also a way for everyone to visualize the final product — of seven seconds in this case. Our storyboard was basically four panels of a cat next to a can of cat food.

We present the storyboard, quite proudly I’ll add – we were good presenters – and at the end the main client looks very concerned. He’s quiet for awhile, thinking. He looks sternly at my partner and I and says quite measured: “Guys, I told you I wanted a look of tremendous satisfaction on the cat’s face. The cat in the storyboard does not have a look of tremendous satisfaction on its’ face”. I looked at the board, and it looks like… a cat. The way cats look. It was a very realistic interpretation I thought. We spent like $500 per frame on this storyboard.

The account person from our ad agency, our co-worker, looks over at us and she says “Guys, is that something we can address? It is in the brand objectives.”

My creative team partner and I look at each other, waiting for someone to say it’s a joke. But it’s not a joke. This wingnut client expects the drawing of the cat to show he/she is ‘tremendously satisfied’. Forget about how we are actually going to achieve this at the shoot, we’re suddenly on the hot seat for not delivering on a ‘brand objective’ – in a drawing. Crap, if we are removed from the project we will not get our free lunch for three days as we desperately need.

Brilliance strikes my Guatemalan Art Director partner who shall remain nameless. He takes our deck of the printed storyboard frames and on the final frame he draws a ‘happy face’ mouth on the cat, like you’d find on those stupid ‘have a nice day’ yellow happy faces. He slides it across the table and says “There is a look of tremendous satisfaction. Is that what you mean? I think we can achieve something like that at the shoot.”

The client, dead serious, says “Thank you, that is all I ask for.”