Cannes: The message of multinational advertising agency Crispin Porter+Bogusky is simple: in a world smitten with digital platforms and technologies, the great idea is still king. And there are others that agree with this.
Its “Whopper Freakout” campaign for Burger King Holdings Inc. is testament to this. The ad campaign, a fictional discontinuation of the chain’s signature product “Whopper” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sandwich, had customers reacting in dismay, anger or indignation. The gamut of emotions was captured real-time by surveillance cameras which became part of the advertising.
Curtain call: The Cannes Festival Palace where the Cannes Lions 2008 advertising festival was held
“Technology definitely makes it easier to ignore you, but also to fall in love with you,’’ said the agency’s co-chairman Chuck Porter. Technology helps storytelling like never before, he said, adding that indelible characters make for great stories, as do surprise endings and practical jokes.
Crispin+Porter also did a memorable ad for Coke Zero, Coca-Cola Co.’s low-cal coke targeted at men. It shot videos of posing Coca-cola officials asking real lawyers if the firm can sue Coke Zero for taste infringement. The lawyers were completely bewildered, which was captured on video to make for another great ad.
Ultimately, no focus group in history has ever written a good story, Porter said.
Ajaz Ahmed, founder and chairman of independent Web design and interactive marketing agency AKQA Inc., said that contrary to what people think, digital is not about technology; it’s about great ideas.
“The whole idea is to form an emotional connection with the brand. It’s not about agencies putting a TV commercial online. We tell them a story in an informal non-linear way through our work,” he said.
Ahmed pointed at the “Lost Ring” campaign that AKQA was involved with. The Lost Ring is a global alternate reality adventure created jointly by fast-food firm McDonald’s Corp., AKQA and games designer Jane McGonigal. Designed in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee, the Lost Ring invites players from across the globe to join forces online and in the real world, as they investigate forgotten mysteries and urban legends of the ancient games.
“It is work that combines the virtual with the real, and I am overwhelmed with its success when I see youngsters in Central Park in New York looking for clues for the game,” Ahmed said.
Legendary director Joe Pytka, who has won more than 20 Lions at Cannes, said storytelling is an art form that some people can and some people can’t. Pytka was involved with the 1989 commercial “Make a Wish” for PepsiCo Inc. starring pop star Madonna.
The commercial opened on Madonna watching a home movie of her eighth birthday party. Suddenly there’s an image swap. The little girl from the TV sits in Madonna’s place and it is the adult Madonna in black and white up on the TV. The little girl watches the images on the screen—a vision of what she will become one day.
The commercial debuted her video “Like a Prayer,” where she was shown dancing in front of burning crosses and kissing a black priest. The commercial ran only once.
Pytka said, “Pepsi threw away $10 million on this one. However, I am told that in Italy, this commercial ran for a year-and-a-half (jokingly).’’
Pytka also cited the example of a Birmingham Budweiser Distributing Co. Inc. commercial named the “Budweiser Clydesdale Rocky Super Bowl Ad 2008” that talked about two horses—Thunder and Hank—competing at a race.
Hank doesn’t make it and his owner patted him on the head, saying “maybe next year Hank.” A Dalmatian was sitting there watching the disappointment in Hank’s eyes. The dog follows the horse home and starts to challenge him in activities to train him for the next year’s team.
Final cut: Hank makes it to the team and is leading a carriage. “Budweiser, The Great American Lager.” The ad was an example of a compelling story, depicted simple enough, said Pytka.