May 12, 2015

One and only

The award season is in full swing and it’s interesting to see what is winning festivals like ONE SHOW to get a glimpse of who will be grabbing the lions in just over a month. I’ve chosen a few of my favorite GOLD PENCIL winners which I think will definitely be picking up prizes at Cannes.

Interactive Gold Pencil

Under Armour – I will what I want
Droga 5

Let’s face it, Gisele Bundchen doesn’t need the money. So when you see her doing a campaign like this you know that it’s because she believes in it. I love the way she kicks ass while all the internet trolls try to bring her down. Really empowering stuff.

Interactive Gold Pencil

Honda – The Other Side
Wieden and Kennedy

Some projects are famous even before they hit the judges screens at award festivals. I remember this one doing the rounds and being amazed how seamless and brilliant it was. One button interaction! You can’t get more user-friendly than that.

Direct Gold + Best of Discipline

Sol de Janiero – Tattoo Skin Cancer Check
Ogilvy Brasil

This is a really smart idea. Young sun lovers are never going to get a skin check so how can we bring it to them? OK, so how about all the people who don’t get tattoos? I guess they are not cool so don’t deserve to be saved 🙂

Mobile Gold Pencil

TeatreNeu – Pay per laugh
The Cyranos//McCann

I love the case video as much as I like the campaign itself. Maybe even more. But it’s interesting to see how broad the mobile category is now. This is a really smart idea especially for a country where the economy is bad and people want value for money.

UX/UI Gold Pencil

SNCF – The most serious game ever
TBWA Paris

Nice to see the UX/UI discipline being recognized because it can mean success or failure for any project. The challenge for the agency would have been to really get inside of the mind of this super-smart target audience. Not an easy task to do for most people working in advertising. Sorry.

Check out all the winners here and see which ones you think everyone will be talking about this year.

September 13, 2013

AMCHAM Advertising After Party

Last night Nils Anderson, Y&R China’s Chief Creative Officer, and I jointly presented at a special event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. We wanted to share the winning campaigns from global advertising festivals like Cannes Lions to business leaders in China. I thought it would be interesting to share my own part of the presentation here.

While Nils focused on the Film category and spoke in depth about the craft that goes into winning work, I covered many of the other categories. I began by talking about the dramatic changes the advertising business has gone through since the Mad Men era. Just look at the picture below to see how quickly mobile devices have become the main way to create and consume media. Both show the announcement of a new Pope just 8 years apart.

Yet even with such amazing developments in technology, it is ideas that win not techniques or (dare I say it) gimmicks. In my presentation I began with a look at the category of DIRECT which is all about targeted communication with a clearly identifiable call-to-action or response mechanism. It’s all about having a measurable response.

This multi award-winning campaign from McCann Melbourne was based on real human insight. Take a serious message then make it fun and engaging. Make something that people want to share. Allow people to participate and own the campaign so the message gets magnified. The results speak for themselves. It didn’t just connect with people but changed behavior and demonstrates where our industry is going – harnessing the power of digital & social to seed the message.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals teamed up with MINI Cooper to teach dogs how to operate a car, in the hopes that it will draw attention to the talented and adorable dogs that were up for adoption. It shows the power of talk value in a campaign in order to capture attention.

When the laughs died down I then went on to talk about winners in the Cannes Cyber Lions. Very few people use the term “cyber” these days. It’s a throwback to the late 90s when the internet was still science fiction to many people. Now people talk about “digital” which is already sounding narrow and old fashioned. Maybe, after 5 years, I need to retire this blog if that’s the case.

The internet and social media as radically changed the advertising industry as much as other industries like music. But rather than being its death it breathed new life into what we do. Look at any great campaign now and see how it harnesses the power of digital to connect with consumers in ways not possible only 15 years ago.

Oreo’s 100th birthday mission was to help everyone around the world celebrate the child inside.  Draft FCB’s “Daily Twist” aimed to filter the world through the “playful imagination of Oreo.” It went way beyond a simple print campaign as it was designed to spark conversation and sharing on social platforms. On Facebook alone the population of fans grew to 27.7 million!

When an Adidas store is closed can you still allow people passing by to buy your clothes? That was the questions answered by agency TBWA Helsinki. It really shows how broad the category is.

It has been a long time coming but mobile marketing is now a force to be reckoned with. Today almost everyone carries smartphones and in many countries they are the primary access point to the internet. Mobile opens up lots of amazing opportunities to connect with consumers to deliver timely and relevant messages or to provide utility.

People love free wifi so Ogilvy Paris came up with an award-winning idea for their client Mattel by offering win free Wi-Fi minutes in places where there isn’t any. All you had to do was play Scrabble and your words became passwords to access the free Wi-Fi connection. You could stay connected as long as you are good at spelling words on Scrabble!

When everyone thinks of mobile they immediately think of high-end smartphones and sophisticated apps. But Philippines agency DM9 used a simple and low-tech solution to make a profound sustainable impact using the simplest phones. It shows how creative you can be with technology when it comes to solving problems

In the PROMO category it’s all about targeted online communication with a clearly identifiable call-to-action or response mechanism.

Sometimes the product becomes the campaign especially when you do something innovative. Coca Cola in with Ogilvy Paris and Singapore developed a can with a difference. One you could share without sharing germs.

How do you get more people to become organ donors? Ogilvy and Mather Brazil took real patients on organ-transplant waiting lists and created films directed at fans of the Sport Club Recife soccer team—telling them their hearts will keep beating for the team, even after they are gone, if they sign up to be an organ donor.

Like award ceremonies themselves I kept the best until last with the Titanium category from Cannes. Sometimes ideas are too big and multi-dimensional to fit into a single category. That’s why festivals like Cannes Lions created Titanium awards. The idea is everything, whether it’s for a car or toothpaste, telecommunications or charity, big budget or low budget.

“The Beauty Inside” by Pereira & O’Dell, which won major awards in digital, film and branded content categories, was born out of a powerful brand truth—just like an Intel processor, it’s what inside that counts. The campaign involved episodic films that followed the story of Alex, a man who wakes up looking like a different person every day. Apart from being “really social at its core” and “really beautiful” the smartest part was the integral role the brands played in the film. At Cannes it won grand prix in Cyber, Branded Content as well as Titanium.

Another Titanium winner came from Nike. When you are not sponsoring the Olympics how can your brand be heard? Nike tested the limits of the Olympic rules on ambush marketing with a global campaign by Wieden & Kennedy featuring everyday athletes and ordinary people enjoying sport in places around the world named London. Anybody could be their own champion no matter how great their achievement.

In fact, if there is one big trend recently in awards festivals it is the number of campaigns where brands are on a mission to do good. It’s not just about changing the world but helping people have a better outlook on life, to treat others and themselves with respect. Brands that are seen to do good are more attractive to consumers. Many of the cases I shared at the event reflect this. One of the Titanium Gold winners epitomized this trend.

Real Beauty Sketches is beautifully simple idea from Ogilvy Brazil centered on the insight that women often see themselves as being unattractive when in fact they are prettier than they think. The result is emotionally powerful and helped spark meaningful online conversations.

A saw a few tearful people in the audience so decided that I couldn’t leave them feeling down. I ended by demonstration that when a campaign is so successful you have to be prepared for one thing – to be parodied…

June 25, 2013

Creative collaboration

From all of the recent Cannes winners one project stood out for me that showed what can happen when a client and its agency truly collaborates. The IBM Boy and his Atom movie came about because Ogilvy creatives took the time to dig through all the incredible research projects IBM were working on and found out how they could move atoms individually. The agency thought “could we create animated images using atoms as pixels?” and then worked with the researchers to bring this to life. The results speak for themselves. This is going beyond the brief and literally delving into the inner workings of a client’s business at an atomic level. That’s when magic can happen.

November 17, 2010

Asia Pacific Winners

Last night I attended the Campaign Asia Digital Media Awards gala presentation in Beijing and there were some great winners from agencies across the region. One of the night’s big winners was Colenso BBDO / AIM Proximity of New Zealand who won the platinum award for best overall campaign for Yellow Chocolate. This amazing project for Yellow Pages also won a gold at Cannes and demonstrates a new way of thinking within agencies. These are the same people who brought us the Best Job in the World. Talking to the team afterwards they were telling me how that campaign and this one for Yellow Pages has completely transformed their agency. Now they approach projects in a completely new way compared to more traditional agencies. All the key people have an equal place at the table from the start where they develop the core idea that answers the client’s challenge. Then the campaign is built around the idea using whichever media is right for that audience. Sounds easy but few agencies work this way.

There must be something in the water in New Zealand (literally in this case) as there were other great winners such Tribal DDB with Live Rescue. To demonstrate the huge task the NZ Coastguard has finding vessels lost at sea, they capsized a boat, stranded 4 people in the ocean, and challenged New Zealand to find them, and save them, in a live-rescue event. Real-time ads drove people online to a search plane simulator to the race against the clock to find the missing boaties. GPS on the boat fed its location into the simulator, which also updated according to current weather conditions and the fading light. Volunteers soon realised they were faced with a hopeless situation, a feeling all too familiar to the Coastguard.

Moving a little further north we had a gold winner from Leo Burnett Sydney for best use of social media. Canon Photochains was developed to promote the Canon EOS DSLR camera range. It won a handful of awards at Cannes International Advertising Festival. The campaign used national television, print and online advertising to invite photographers of all skill levels to upload photographs to a chain started by Canon on the World of EOS website. Once online, people could also start their own photochains, or join those created by others.

OgilvyOne/Neo@Ogilvy Singapore won gold in the retail category for their Nike Trackball concept. Their brief was to “create something as unique and original as the new Nike CTR360 football boot that was to hit the shelves”. They created an interactive in-store experience where ball control and product knowledge of the Nike CTR360 was “both seamless and seductive”.

A special mention has to go to Amanda King, president of Tribal DDB Asia-Pacific, who was named Digital Agency Head of the Year.

Check out the full list of winners here.

September 25, 2010

Should advertising be abolished?

So here we are, the final chapter of David Ogilvy’s book “Confessions of an Advertising Man”. The book that inspired this blog finishes with this dramatic question – Should advertising be abolished? Ogilvy quotes Churchill who said “Advertising nourishes the consuming power of men. It sets up before a man the goal of a better home, better clothing, better food for himself and his family”. A rather patronising view but spot on in a post-war era when the economy needed to grow. Yet at the time of writing the book (the early 60s) the debate was raging about the value of advertising.

Fast forward forty years and in the digital world we now live in the debate continues… but today the backlash against advertising comes from consumers who now have personal control to ban advertising themselves. From ad skipping Tivo to pop-up blockers through to spam filters – people have multiple ways to avoid being advertised to. Now we are facing a situation where our audience is no longer captive but rather it is brands that are held hostage by consumers who demand more than being told that they should buy a product to have a better life. Marketers are now forced to find new ways to reach the people who potentially could buy the product. When any negative experiences with a product can be posted online brands are being held accountable more than ever before.

Interestingly David Ogilvy showed in his book how advertising has always been a force for sustaining standards of quality and service. When his agency started advertising KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as “punctual” and “reliable”, their top management told their staff that they had to live up to the promise of their advertising. Today we see campaigns like the Domino Pizza Turnaround that allow consumers a window into their operations and shout their new values from the computer screen. Power to the people.

Ogilvy believed that TV was the most potent advertising medium ever devised but he would pay for the privilege of watching it without “commercial interruptions”. Times have changed but they stay the same. Online people enjoy free media with online news and entertainment content but hate animated ads that cover the page they are looking at. No doubt David Ogilvy would have loved Tivo allowing him to skip all the ads. Online advertisers have learned quickly that consumers will ignore their messages so have developed more engaging ways to attract attention. Branded content rewards people for their time. iAds promise to deliver a richer experience. Advergames entertain you hoping that next time you want to buy a bag of chips that you’ll choose their brand. When you want to launch a new movie a trailer just isn’t enough any more. You need to draw people into the world of the movie through transmedia “experiences”  like the multi-screen campaign that was executed for the Avatar movie across Xbox and MSN.

Ogilvy finishes by saying that advertising should not be abolished (of course) but it must be reformed. No doubt he’d be alarmed and fascinated by the digital world of today where reform is being enforced by consumer behavior. Truth and lies about brands and products are revealed by the verbal few and received by the masses on social networks, blogs and Twitter. Ultimately commerce needs communication. Brands need fans that act rather than just “like” (as pointed out in this article by Simon Mainwaring). Digital spells the end of advertising as we know it. Ads that talk at you are definitely banned. Campaigns that connect with customers in a meaningful way, that bring people together with a common brand affiliation and ultimately result in sales… that’s the kind of advertising that rings in a new way of thinking.

So I come to the end of Ogilvy’s book and as I close it I’m also on the verge of a new chapter myself. At the end of October I leave Ogilvy to take up an exciting new challenge in China where I hope to continue the digital adventure in a market where online and mobile brand communication is still relatively new. I’ll be posting my future confessions of a digital adman from a totally different perspective. It’s going to be a blast.

August 23, 2010

How to make good (digital) campaigns…

In David Ogilvy’s book “Confessions of an Advertising Man” he points out that there are real specific factors to consider when it comes to advertising in certain categories. Online, things are no different. You can’t apply a cookie cutter approach to any product but need to understand the category and what people might expect from that kind of product in the digital space. Is it a high or low involvement product? Is the target audience of that product web savvy enough for complex campaigns? As part of my series updating Ogilvy’s book for the 21st century let’s take a look at the 3 categories he covered…


David Ogilvy’s tips were specific for print and TV, with suggestions for art direction and copywriting to bring out the best aspects of the product. In digital it is much more about building a preference for the product by enhancing the brand with useful or entertaining content, real facts that answer people’s burning questions or simply bring the product personality to life.

The recent Domino Pizza turnaround campaign was a great example of answering the questions people were asking. Questions about product quality & taste and responding the negativity around the infamous YouTube video of Domino staff messing with the food. Of course it is risky being so open as you will see on their campaign page. Not every customer comment coming in via Twitter is positive. They get quickly deleted of course.

At the other end of the spectrum you’ve got the pure branded entertainment of Doritos and the Asylum626 campaign. After the succes of the Hotel 626 campaign, Doritos continued the experience with the Asylum 626. Created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and produced by B-Reel, the new website was just as scary and was divided into stages where you had goals to meet and puzzles to unravel. You could interact via microphones and webcams to live the experience more realistically and the integration with Facebook and Twitter was a good addition. With scenes that had horror movie-style quick cuts the game managed to scare even the toughest players.


In “Confessions of an Advertising Man”, Ogilvy says that ads for tourism should “convert dreams into action – transforming potential energy into kinetic energy”. This is still true in digital with the best online tourism campaigns truly engaging with the viewer so they already become virtually involved with the destination… a first step towards actually going there. The Queensland Tourism “Best job in the world” campaign is the obvious example of how successful you can be in this category online. But let’s look at some less well-known examples:

The Webby Award winner Snapshots of Provence is an experimental website for the local tourist board which you can navigate two ways. Pick pictures on the left to visit by regions which includes small video clips or use the wheel on the right for an alternate navigation. This comprehensive sound and visual experience is an excerpt from the travel book of photographer Thomas Duval and sound designer Tacteel and produced by UZIK. An immersive experience like this really can talk to the dreamer in everyone and make them want to start planning a trip.

This next example may not be a tourist destination but it’s more about how you get there. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class was promoted online with this amusing Cannes award winning campaign that played on people’s fear of flying. Travelers on other airlines may suffer from a fear of flying, but someone who has flown Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class and experienced their unprecedented level of pampering may suffer from something much worse: The fear of not flying Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class.

Check out one of the banners here.


When it comes to advertising pharmaceutical products Ogilvy was spot on when he wrote that it must be serious, authoritative and educational. This first example ticks all those boxes. A People’s Choice Webby Award winner by RAPP, this website promoted the first FDA-approved, over-the-counter weight-loss pill. The agency designed a site for people interested in understanding how to use the new drug, called ‘alli.’ Information and tools were provided to offer patients an alternative to current over-the-counter weight-loss options. Content/tools on the consumer sites included a BMI calculator and a readiness quiz. A ‘Commitment Letter’ feature enabled people to share past diet experiences. More than 1.5 million unique visitors logged on during the first four months.

Of course there are always times when you want to turn conventions upside down. You can be serious about incontinence or make fun of it by getting Whoopi Goldberg to be the front woman. As part of a large print and television advertising campaign for Poise, the adult diapers produced by Kimberly-Clark, Goldberg played the parts of several historical and mythical women, suggesting that light bladder leakage may have been a problem for Mona Lisa, the Statue of Liberty, Eve, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy etc. The films, a montage of which featured during the 2010 Oscars, also formed the heart of a dedicated website which provided a platform for women to learn about the problem and not to feel so alone.

So maybe there are no fixed rules today for advertising online. As long as you understand whom you are talking to and find an idea that connects with them then you’ve got a great chance of your campaign making a difference.

June 9, 2010

Best of Bastholm

Well, the rumours were true. Lars Bastholm, Chief Digital Creative Officer of Ogilvy North American has been appointed overall Chief Creative Officer. You can read the full story on Adweek here but essentially it’s an amazing move for an agency like Ogilvy, putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to the importance of digital.

Visual by Diego Zambrano

To mark this occasion (and to do a little hero worshipping) I am starting a series profiling some of the industry’s great digital creatives… starting with Lars.

I met Lars back in 2001 when we were both judges at the Cannes Cyber Lions. He came across as quietly spoken, intelligent and extremely likeable. Not something you could say for all the jury members. By 2001 Lars already had a number of Cannes Lions under his belt from his years at Framfab. Projects like Nike Women and Nike Freestyle really were ahead of their time in terms of production values and technical innovation.

After winning 3 Cannes Grand Prix and many other awards, in 2004 Lars left Framfab to set up the New York office of AKQA. His work included pitching for and winning accounts like Coke, Smirnoff and Motorola globally. He continued to lead projects for Nike including innovative mobile apps like Nike PhotoID.


Here is a video interview from Lars while at AKQA. His comments from 2007 showed how digital advertising/marketing would evolve in the coming years. AKQA were already doing a lot of the things many brands are only today starting to explore. This interview (also from 2007) for the FWA gives us further insight into his thinking….

Where could Lars go from here? The surprise came when it was announced that he would join Ogilvy New York. Not only were Ogilvy looking to hire a true digital leader but they were impressed with his approach to brand communication no matter what the medium. For example, here are 6 tips from Lars about mastering the art of social storytelling and inviting consumers into the conversation:

  • Look at any marketing effort as the beginning of a conversation.
  • Closely monitor the conversation and be ready to respond to consumers.
  • Provide consumers with tools that help them carry on the conversation for you.
  • Leave room for consumers to interact. Make sure your creative universe is big enough that there are unexplored areas.
  • The conversation is over when the consumers say it is, not when the media plan (or the budget) says it is.
  • Listen and learn from the feedback loop.

Asked why he chose to join Ogilvy Lars said:

“It is becoming obvious that marketing shouldn’t live in silos. Consumers don’t distinguish between what’s in which channel, when they shape their perception of a brand. Nor should they,” said Lars Bastholm. “My reason for joining Ogilvy is to get a seat at the table with clients who make the 360 degree brand decisions and to work on the campaigns that will help define what integrated, multi-channel advertising can look like in the future.”

    Not long after joining Ogilvy, Lars was the Cannes Cyber Lions jury president. In this video he explains why the Grand Prix winners deserved their awards.

    If you follow Lars on Twitter you’ll discover a few things about the man. He loves food and was recently in a BBQ coma during the SXSW conference. He’s always on the move and he can be found anywhere from Puerto Rica to Copenhagen. He’s a real film buff and has a movie review website he runs with a friend called Thursdays Without Zada.

    But above all he loves digital. Nothing is impossible, nothing ever good enough and no idea too big. Lars, I can’t wait to see what you will do at Ogilvy.

    June 7, 2010

    Tipping point?

    The unconfirmed (as of 7th June) that Lars Bastholm (chief digital creative officer of Ogilvy North America) is to be named the overall chief creative officer for the agency has many tongues wagging. The comments on AdAge have been fascinating. Here are just a few…

    By digschulman | NEW YORK, NY
    Having been on both sides of this (as an ECD on both the Traditional then Digital agency side), I think we’re making too much of the DNA experience and not enough of the truly hybrid awareness one now needs to be a catalyst for great work in today’s multiplatform creative world.

    Net net, we need to stop looking at this thru the digital native versus digital immigrant lens where we choose between:

    Group A : Big agency traditional ECDs with their massive egos, shoot budgets and director relationships, who see their digital counterparts as the geeks required to extend their big ideas and TV narratives into digital “stuff” that they insist fewer people will see, but is necessary to check all the client boxes of a modern day creative ecosystem (digital word)….errr…right…campaign (traditional word).


    Group B: Digital ECDs – steeped in User Experience/, Web Development, Direct Response, Social Applications, Flash vs HTML5 and database know-how, who see their above the line counterparts as overpaid, old school linear story-tellers (as opposed to digital ones) clinging to the holy grail of the Big Brand Idea – as if no one on the digital side could ever come up with such a thing.

    Whose line is it anyway? It’s the marketer’s line!

    The truth is, there are too few ECDs out there who are intuitively hybrids – and know it’s not just a bigger toolbox of channels to create for, but requires different narrative skillsets required to create for them.

    The ones like Lars who do, know what a big brand platform idea is and whether it has the teeth to generate cultural currency or not. They respect the craft of the :30 spot and how hard it is to write, sell and execute a memorable one or pool of them. They get that creating a great social application or twitter visualizer or print ad or radio spot or world cup widget or whatever… are all powerful tools to help expand messaging and engagement around a brand – just as a TV spot is.

    No matter the DNA, any ECD worth their salary these days recognizes that linear and non-linear storytelling skills, digital design prowess and technology are all pre-requisites for creating and executing big brand building programs in today’s multi-channel, multi-platform ad world.

    But digital native or not, it’s being a catalyst for big ideas and broader thinking that results in great work that will always win.

    By afinkelman | Boca Raton, FL
    Looking at the reality of consumer experience we see increasing integration of digital technology in daily life. Digital is no longer a channel option, but rather, has become central to how people interact with each other, and the world.

    Looking to the future, at some point putting the word digital in front of marketing will become meaningless as most marketing will have a digital component as all of our daily experience will be augmented by technology.

    Consumers have embraced their digital empowerment and this trend will only increase as Gen Y, born to the digital age, comes of age and flexes their economic muscles.

    Whether the creative hires discussed in the article are truly forward thinking attempts to evolve agency thinking, or merely a cosmetic approach to positioning the agencies as digital leaders, may not ultimately matter. These new creative leaders will have the opportunity to innovate an ensure the ongoing relevancy of their agencies. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

    By Iga | Chicago, IL
    I enjoy reading all your comments, especially digschulman. Seems like we are all on the same page as far as our assessment of interactive impact. Digschulman however, made an interesting delineation between two groups: one led by a ‘traditional’ ECD and the other one let by a ‘digital’ guy. Here is my take on that.

    I also have background in traditional (print) media and several years ago transitioned into interactive. Over a period of a few years I freelanced at several digital shops and that gave me a unique perspective on this subject, as I could see how agencies are run. Now, I am one of the creative leaders working in e-commerce.
    First of all, it is not so much about who leads the thinking in the agency but how. Although- I want to make a point right here, that a CD who has only print, or only broadcast experience is irrelevant and obsolete. Hybrids are the most sought-after skill set right now. Now, let’s go back to the ‘how’ point.

    The basic mistake pretty much all big digital agencies make is that they adapt the old-school, traditional-shop, waterfall process and way of working. That leads to a lot of inefficiency and confusion. What works for print and broadcast doesn’t work for digital.
    The creative leader needs to understand that digital is not only different channel or medium but a different product as well. Here, you are creating an environment, a setup for content consumption, vs brand messaging interruption. It needs to carry a value for the user, not just fill the periphery of the web page with flashy stuff, or creating mini sites that are neither informative or entertaining. The digital process is much more involved and complicated, so the traditional top-down, waterfall method doesn’t work. This requires ECD’s to be involved, almost hands-on in every aspect of creation and production. Some call it agile way of working, some call it iterative – where the team consisting of several disciplines: visual design, copy, UX architects, developers, IT (backend), analytics, content creators, project management. etc – is brainstorming together.
    The traditional model (first creative, then production)is too segmented and disconnected.

    Putting digital people at the top of the ladder without overhauling the entire approach won’t change the outcome. It’s just a matter of time before the clients will see through that.
    I am on the client side now, and the trend is to do away with most of the agencies that we’ve had. Instead, we set up an internal agency to handle most of our needs, hiring top talent from best digital shops. Our competitors are doing the same.

    When the news is confirmed no doubt the opinions will be flying around like hot fat spitting from the frying pan. This kind of move has been on the cards for some time and could finally be the tipping point for many agencies that have been considering this kind of move. Watch this space…
    May 31, 2010

    Art direction and digital

    Following on from my series on the David Ogilvy book “Confession of an Advertising Man”, I should be covering the chapter How to write potent copy. But I am skipping to the one after that while waiting for a copywriter colleague who is helping me put something meaningful together. So we will be covering How to illustrate Advertisements and Posters.

    David Ogilvy devoted a whole chapter to creating illustrations/images for advertising. He believed that they “should work as hard to sell the product” as copy and headlines. In the book he states that the subject of the illustration is more important than the technique. That they must “arouse the reader’s curiosity”. He refers to “story appeal” and talks about the eye patch that he put on the star of the Hathaway campaign – one of Ogilvy’s classic success stories.

    What would he make of art direction in the digital age? Perhaps he would be horrified by the motion graphics and rule-breaking nature of online communication. Or maybe he would love the instant results of digital campaigns and would forgive their flashy visual nature. Let’s look at what kind of art direction works well today…

    The first challenge is how to define digital art direction. With more campaigns using the same visual assets on and offline it is becoming harder to isolate specific examples of pure digital art direction. Then you have multiple disciplines within digital art direction such as interface design, animation, motion graphics and more. Probably the best place to start are the D&AD Awards that champion art direction above the idea behind the piece itself.

    In terms of Interface and Navigation there are many projects that forgo the rules of simple usability for a more experimental and experiential approach. One of the 2009 winners was 12 CAMS, CREATE YOUR RAINBOW for the band Radiohead. By integrating video footage and a clever interface they created a way for users to interact extensively with both media. Every user’s action was recorded as a piece of a rainbow. At the end, the resulting rainbow containing everyone’s feelings into one piece of art.

    This style of art direction relies heavily on the data-centric nature of the web and uses data visualization as its main design theme. Even the video footage was extremely pixelated that adds to the glitchy nature of Radiohead’s music.

    Good design online should make people want to explore. Take this award winning campaign site from Poke London for Orange which brings to life the advertising concept that good things should never end. Many people believe that the best websites should never make people scroll. This one scrolls forever. Along the way you will learn things about the product and be entertained too.

    Uniqlo have continued to build an instantly identifiable brand image partly thanks to the work they’ve done online. They have created their own unique language that goes from the style of typography through to the videos that mix seamlessly in their websites. Not only is the design a masterclass in simplicity but the thinking that goes into their digital work really makes them stand apart.

    When it comes to graphic design, one big trend in digital is the Apple school of art direction featuring white spaces, highly polished images and (of course) reflective surfaces. Take the Heinz “Talk to the plant” project from Daddy. Every pixel is polished to perfection. The 3D animation of the plants is beautifully rendered. It makes you want to lick the screen.

    Another trend is non-design. When design is reduced to a minimum to take down any barriers between people and what they are looking for… it creates a whole new approach to art direction. How more minimalistic can Google’s homepage get? Now they even have navigation hidden on first load then it slowly appears. A great example of non-design is the Modernista website. Or rather a floating navigation that guides you to content about the agency wherever it may be online. There is no actual website. Try selling that to a client.

    So unlike David Ogilvy’s book there are no real rules any more when it comes to art direction. But it has to be noticed by the audience and be true to the brand. Designers, you have more freedom than every before. Use it wisely.

    January 18, 2010

    Ogilvy on Twitter

    Sim Li Fen is a third-year undergraduate majoring in Communication Studies at NTU Singapore. I came across her blog post “What if we apply Ogilvy’s principles on Tweeting?” and thought it was worth sharing. Her tips on “how to write tweets that work” – based on thoughts from Ogilvy on Advertising – include topics like Do your homework, Positioning and What’s the big idea?

    Read it here on >