When Sending A Hallmark Card Just Won’t Do.

AdWeek Special Report: 6 Tips to Help Creativity and Quarantine Co-Exist

 

In times like these I find it particularly important to share news and helpful information wherever and whenever I come across it. Such is the case with this blog post. Thanks to Adweek and its contributor, Sara Spary for the article on which this blog is based.

In the creative world, we’re used to people getting together, face-to-face, to collaborate and exchange ideas, to, well, create that next great ad or TV commercial. So what does one do when quarantine is the order of the day for just about all the known universe?

Demands for making the abnormal as close to normal abound from clients and prospective ones. Business as usual it’s not. So, how is this all working out thus far?

The trade publication Adweek asked veteran creatives around the world to “share their experiences and advice on how to keep the creative juices flowing from home”—even when COVID-19 is knocking on the front door.

Think Face-to-Face

Since you’re already used to doing this, why stop now?

“We’ve made it a point to keep interactions face-to-face whenever possible. Every meeting, regroup, catch-up, brainstorm session—no matter how big or small—is done through Google Hangouts,” said Ryan Engelbert, creative director at We Are Social New York. “It’s forced us to be even more focused on each other and more accountable for the information and ideas that are being exchanged.”

This feels weird, not to mention a bit awkward

Engelbert’s creative partner and fellow creative director Casey De Pont recommends creatives embrace the occasional awkwardness that comes with video calls, since you never know where such moments may lead.

“Video chat still feels awkward to us as humans,” Du Pont said. “There’s a lot of pressure for maximum productivity and zero wasted time when you’re digitally staring each other down, but creative development doesn’t work that way.”

Not everybody may be used to video chat but not everybody is used to uninterrupted speech in a live conference room meeting either. Goof ups and unintended pauses work the same as if you were humanly in the same room with one another.

“You need the awkward pauses and the space between ideas to let things breathe and develop. The more we can be real people in the virtual space, the more comfortable we’ll become working there,” she said.

Be a Space Cadet

Spending time alone in quarantine gives you the time to quietly explore ideas and concepts without any critics jumping down your throat. You’ve got plenty of space to think out loud if you want.

Droga5 copywriter Gabe Santana like it this way. “I think the best part about working from home is that I can lie down on the floor and say bad ideas out loud without bothering anyone,” Santana said. “Except Germany, of course.”

That would be Germany Lancaster, Droga5 art director, Santana’s creative partner and self-proclaimed homebody. Lancaster prefers to brainstorm alone and mull it all down to a few good concepts “before meshing ideas” with Santana.

“Once I’ve got a couple ideas down, I like to either present them to my partner in a deck or chat through them in hopes that they springboard into something grand. Chatting through ideas always leads to lots of laughs, so that’s definitely a bonus,” Lancaster said.

Establish a Stronger Relationship

Working remotely can really strengthen that and those relationship(s).

For Ludovic Miege, copywriter at Havas Paris, working remotely hasn’t been too much of a problem so far because he and his creative partner, art director Jordan Molina, have worked together for six years.

“For us, working like this is not very complicated because we know how to work together and do not need to see each other to work,” he said. “We can call each other all day long using Facebook, Whatsapp, Gmail, Zoom. We have many ways to communicate and exchange our ideas.

“Because of our long relationship, we know how the other one understands things. You are more efficient when your partnership is strong.”

Have a Flexible Routine

Working remotely can feel odd and awkward to those not used to doing it. Don’t overdo the video conferences and calls just to prove something. Remember, too many conference calls can lead to less time for thinking.

But Madrid-based Javier Campopiano, who recently joined Grey as chief creative officer of Grey Europe and Global, warns this will only lead to burnout. He says keeping structure in your day is important.

“Right now, I try to keep a routine. My kids are not going to school so we don’t need to wake up as usual, but we’re trying to keep the same schedule. I try to exercise on the balcony, because I can’t go for a run—we can get a fine—so I exercise and then shower,” he told Adweek. “I dress up to work, maybe less formally than I usually do, and I sit in front of my computer in my little office here at home.”

So you work in your pajamas. So what?

Depending on what kind of routine one is used to doing, spending the day in your PJ’s may feel very normal. If not, that’s okay, too.

Mariana Albuquerque, a creative copywriter working in Ireland suggests “the main challenge is not being distracted by other people—or animals—in your home, and understanding the time to start working and finishing it,” she said. “Since I’ve been working from home for a week, I’ve created a routine for myself. I do wear comfy PJs, though. It doesn’t make me feel lazy at all. But I do comb my hair in case of a video call.”

Her creative partner and art director, Carina Caye Branco, urges the most important thing of all is open communication.

“Communication is key, and trying to organize our day and tasks. Be online all the time, or at least tell your partner if you need to go offline and how long,” she said. “And keep a record of everything you’re thinking/doing. [That has] been proving really helpful for us.”

Sara Spary is a freelance journalist based in London. She’s been a reporter for eight years, covering advertising and consumer brands.

This is one Whopper we pray will never find its way onto BK’s menu.

WARNING: If you’re squeamish, prepare yourself and, please, don’t throw up on your computer monitor!

burger-king-moldy-whopper-2020

        Burger King highlights “the beauty of no artificial preservatives” in its Moldy Whopper campaign.
Burger King

In a word, BLEAHHHHH!!!

Last week, according to Adweek, Burger King unveiled a global ad campaign  highlighting its commitment to dropping all artificial preservatives. Such campaigns, while laudable, come and go somewhat often without generating much more than passing interest.

This one is truly bizarre. It tests just how far Burger King can virtually thrust its product down its customers’ throats before they gag.

The Moldy Whopper campaign, created through a partnership between three agencies, features intriguingly high-resolution photography and video of a Whopper being consumed not by humans, but rather by the horribly incredible passage of time itself. In other words, we get to see a Whopper rotting. Lovely!

Adweek reports that each ad shows a Whopper whose ingredients are being engulfed in mold, alongside a date stamp letting you know how long the burger has been exposed to the elements (too long, but typically about a month). The tagline, are you ready for this, describes the images as “the beauty of no artificial preservatives.”

Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?

The work promotes the brand’s pledge to drop all artificial preservatives, which it has accomplished across much of Europe and 400 locations in the United States. By the end of the year, Burger King says it will have removed artificial preservatives from Whoppers in all U.S. locations. That’s nice and laudable.

I’m still feeling nauseous.

“At Burger King, we believe that real food tastes better,” (no kidding) said Fernando Machado, CMO for Burger King parent company Restaurant Brands International. “That’s why we are working hard to remove preservatives, colors and flavors from artificial sources from the food we serve in all countries around the world.”

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Burger King

I’m sorry but this just looks gross! It’s certainly not appealing at all. I get what they’re trying to convey but I wonder if BK ever considered giving out Tums, Alka Seltzer or nausea tablets with their meals.

In addressing reality, Adweek posits that the mold campaign might be challenging to common sense, but it was also a difficult one to accomplish in terms of craft and required months to achieve.

“We are very proud of crafting this idea,” said Björn Ståhl, executive creative director for Ingo, one of three agencies involved. “Mold grows in a very inconsistent way. We had to work for several months, with different samples, to be able to showcase the beauty of something which is usually considered undesirable.”

” . . . the beauty of something undesirable.” Really? Sort of sounds like a contradiction in terms. I’m still feeling nauseous.

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Burger King

So how will it go over? According to Adweek’s reporting, in the short term, the likely answer is: not great. Head-scratching advertising tends to generate quite a bit of short-term negative publicity, usually thanks to morning talk shows and late-night monologues.

And some within advertising will call the work “awards bait,” knowing that juries at Cannes Lions and other awards festivals tend to swoon over concepts that challenge every seemingly obvious but unwritten rule of advertising, such as “Don’t make your food look like it will literally kill people.”

But in the process of sparking debate and consternation, the campaign is also likely to resonate across the industry and encourage other brands to take similar moves, knowing that the ideas will be easier to sell when something so “off the wall” (that’s one way to put it) has already been sold to a major global corporation.

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Burger King

This campaign will indeed show something else:  How strong are BK’s customers’ stomachs? This is revolting no matter how “beautiful” the photography. Just because a global corporation has gone along with this hideous idea doesn’t make it one to copy. After all, how many global CEO’s have signed off on something that should never have come out of committee?

What will definitely be interesting to see will be the types of “toned down” ideas and executions coming forth that are based on the Moldy Whopper campaign.

In the meantime, BK needs to supply their restaurants with plenty of Tums and barf bags, just in case.

 

PS . . . Thanks to David Griner (@griner), creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek’s podcast, “Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad” for source material for this blog.

Colorfully Weird, “Speeding” Image Wins Hyundai Cannes Lion. Should it Have?

Winning an award in the advertising business is a big deal. The really big deals come annually during the sun-baked, beach-worshipping, booze-enhanced party in France known famously as the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. This year was no exception.

Except. One campaign that did win a Lion was done by MullenLowe/SSP3 for Hyundai called Speeding Emojis. As their brief explained, “Every day, more people are involved in car accidents for texting and driving. To make drivers aware of this issue, we decided to use one of the most common elements, when it comes to writing: emojis. But we wanted to use them in a different way. So, we decided to show how they would look at 69, 85, 43 and 76 km/h to prove that texting and driving at the same time just doesn’t make sense.”

Color Swirl Hyundai Ad

Colorful representation of an emoji used while texting when traveling at various high speeds. Note the vertical line of copy at left basically saying “don’t text at xy speed and drive.”

The explanation given in the brief by the agency obviously doesn’t appear in the ad, nor should it. Given this, how is one to know what the image is? While the single line of copy is pretty self-explanatory, the big-ass image of a color swirl is not.

The campaign also uses several different emoji varieties with accompanying swirls of different colors, tying in with that emoji.

Color Swirl Hyundai-green

Another in series of colorful swirls in Hyundai’s Don’t (emoji) and Drive campaign

Given that the image dominates the ad and the tag line is sort of lost, it sort of begs the question: What the Hell does the image represent and/or why isn’t that explained in some fashion? Given an art director’s or designer’s perspective, one might wonder, “How’d they do that?” or “What is that supposed to be?”

Well, this is where it gets even more interesting. According to a post on Twitter, a very “similar looking” image is available from Shutterstock. Now, it’s not unusual to use stock imagery in spec work or presentations but unless an agency is in partnership with a stock footage and imagery company like Shutterstock, this is highly unusual and probably not even kosher. There’s not even a credit given to Shutterstock in the ad nor to the designer who created the original artwork, Rik Oostenbroek.

Color Swirl Hyundai-large

Color swirl image via Shutterstock compared to image used in Hyundai ad campaign.

I’m surprised that, to my knowledge thus far, neither Shutterstock nor Rik Oostenbroek have contacted the agency or Hyundai about about this; of course, this assumes that approval was given beforehand. Even if it was, where’s the credit?

In reporting on the story, Adweek requested a response from MullenLowe who sent the following:

“In regards to this particular campaign, the images were identified as the most fitting way to illustrate the important ‘don’t text and drive’ message for our client. The appropriate rights for the four images were purchased through the correct channels and we acted legally within the terms of the licence. We have been in contact with the artist claiming credit for the work on social media, with a full explanation of the creative process and the surrounding legalities.

“D&AD investigated the entry and deemed it eligible on the evidence provided.”

But . . . where’s the originality? Some folks may not have a problem with using stock imagery in ads while I’m sure some do. Are we seeing some sort of trend in advertising? What’s the proper use of stock photography and when and where should it be used?

“If you literally copy and paste something and stick a line of copy on it, I don’t think it’s worthy of an award,” said Chris Garbutt, global CCO of TBWA\Worldwide and a frequent awards juror. “I don’t think it’s enough to do that anymore.”

I believe this ad and its campaign has a few issues. Feel free to write in the comments section of this blog and let me know your thoughts.

Personally, these images remind me of something caught in a time warp, but absolutely nothing concerning automobiles. The concept of “don’t text and drive” could apply to any cell phone provider’s message, for that matter.

The images do illicit one’s attention. However, their reaction may produce a “WTF?”

Go figure.