In our Trailblazing series, we’ve sought out people and agencies that are applying creativity in new and different ways. To create trailblazing work requires careful planning, a fount of creativity, a keen eye for reading local (or global) audiences and the skill to tailor your message appropriately.
Pereira & O’Dell, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Forsman & Bodenfors have all conjured up trailblazing campaigns. But what do they make of each other’s work? We have asked each agency to look through its own creative lens while examining one of the other’s recent campaigns.
AMV BBDO’s “You’re not you when you’re hungry” for Snickers, Pereira & O’Dell’s “What Lives Inside” for Intel/Dell and Forsman & Bodenfors’ “805 Million Names” for the United Nations World Food Programme are all very different pieces of work, produced by significantly diverse agencies.
Each has its own perspective — whether it’s the agency’s local focus, its culture or its creative direction.
We have asked them to explore how they would have approached each other’s projects from a creative standpoint — would they have done things differently or taken a similar approach? And how would their local audiences have responded to each other’s work?
AMV BBDO’s “you’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign for Snickers is one of those ideas that got so big it transcended advertising and became a regular joke among people all over the world.
For a while, I’ve wondered when they would bring this to the digital space and whether it could keep its charm in geekland. So screw you guys for leaving me jealous again. I particularly like the iVoice execution of a Siri-like artificial-intelligence assistant in a bad mood. So pointless, so unhelpful, so funny.
This extension shows how many digital examples of a goofy joke can be taken seriously and work again and again. I’m wondering, though: what if they had gone the other way?
With the slogan “You’re not you when you’re hungry”, it seems there is a massive opportunity for a slew of melodramatic characters that could take a content route and make the gag even longer.
If, instead of creating interactive gimmicks (that are funny exactly because they are nothing other than impractical gimmickry), they had moved to long-form content. There is so much potential to expand on this — and loads of creative expression from consumers that could be tapped too.
I don’t mean a 90-second commercial but an actual storyline — something that could go up to feature length or episodes, filled with dyspeptic characters that are hungry and not themselves. Maybe animated?
I’m sure this premise of the hungry alt-personality could make something funny. All it takes is thinking about this Hungry Joe or Captain Nom or…
OK, I may have to be hungry for suggesting that “all it takes” is for AMV BBDO to build a labyrinth of characters and plotlines around Snickers — which is anything but easy. But they already have one of the most difficult parts of content development: an interesting premise.
The irony for me is that, most of the time, brands overreach and try too hard to turn marketing into longer content.
It often leads to disaster because they haven’t been honest with themselves when asking the most important question: “Would anyone watch this?” For Snickers, with its simple, crazy shtick, the answer would likely be a yes.
Unless they tried it with their stomachs growling.
PJ Pereira, chief creative officer and co-founder, Pereira & O’Dell
One of the beauties of the “what lives inside” campaign is that it’s created with a combination of respect for the viewer and charm.
It’s entertainment at the highest Hollywood level with an inspiring story that is highly relevant to the product it is selling.
Pereira & O’Dell has realised that it is not competing with a 30-second spot in the ad break. It is competing against Despicable Me 2 and ten-minute compilations of cat videos on YouTube.
Describing how we would have done things differently is a very tough task. But if we start from the very foundation — geographic location — we can begin to see how we might approach this.
The local market in Sweden is limited in size (nine million people) and our whole economy is based on export — Ikea, Volvo and H&M are good examples. Most of the things we do in Sweden, we do with a global mindset.
Perhaps it’s in that perspective that we can find the difference in our approach. Perhaps “isolating” the campaign in the US on Hulu was a missed opportunity. The entertainment industry is global by design; the whole world is entertained by Hollywood.
The campaign is hugely relevant from a global perspective and our take on it (if any) would have been to involve the world and engage an even larger global audience — even if the market were defined as local.
It’s not likely that we would have landed with the exact same creative execution (we can only wish) but there’s every chance we would have approached it with the same mindset: to create content that people will love and find interesting enough to spend time watching.
News and stories travel the globe in seconds and people read and digest news, blogs and articles from all over the world. Sometimes, a simple message just needs to travel the world to land locally.
Tobias Nordstrom, head of planning and strategy, Forsman & Bodenfors
In England, we don’t like Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He refers to himself in the third person. He has silly hair. And he scores wonder goals against us. But you can’t ignore him — he is not like other footballers. He does the unexpected.
So it’s perhaps no surprise that now, thanks to Forsman & Bodenfors, he has allowed his finely sculpted physique to be turned into a living poster for world hunger.
It’s an approach to admire. It’s surprising. It’s famous. It lives up to the title of this feature — it is, no shadow of a doubt, trailblazing. But, rightly or wrongly, it’s not how we would have approached the problem at AMV BBDO.
Perhaps it’s the “trailblazing” thing. It’s just not something we ever think about. The only thing we think about is doing work that works. We take it for granted that an idea must be famous; it doesn’t matter how good it is if nobody sees it.
But it’s not enough for an idea just to be famous. A great idea needs to do more than that. It needs to move people. It needs to move them to do something, think something, create something or — heaven forbid — even buy something.
And this idea, much as we admire its boldness and ambition and execution, reminds us a bit of Zlatan himself. It’s an idea that’s showboating. There are lots of fancy step-overs and histrionics with very little end result. Because what does it want us to do?
We know there are millions and millions of nameless people starving in the world. (OK, maybe we didn’t know there were 805 million but the trouble with numbers is that, after a certain point, they’re just so large they almost become meaningless.)
And, of course, that is tragic and heart-breaking and unfair and unjust. But that, surely, is NOT news. To anyone.Even if someone as famous as Zlatan himself is pointing it out to us.
The point must be: how can an idea help tackle the problem of world hunger, rather than simply point out something that we already knew about? How can it mobilise people to do something?
That’s where we would have started.
Alex Grieve and Adrian Rossi, executive creative directors, AMV BBDO