29 September 2012

Why Great Ads Aren't Written for the Client

There's an ugly, inevitable moment when I pitch a campaign to a new client. It's when I tell her:  "I didn't write this for you."

Music to the ears, it ain't.  Ad campaigns are a gamble:  they risk a lot of money, and sometimes their careers- on campaigns which, by my count, fall short of their goals 8 times out of 10.

Great retail campaigns aren't written for clients.  They're written for the end user- the client's client.

Witness this spot- "Candidates," created for FedEx by BBDO New York.

A reasonably keen eye will notice the number of FedEx Office services demonstrated in the ad:  brochures, posters, copies, Photoshop, mugs & signs.

That's advertising.

Look a little deeper:  it's topical- running in the thick of the US Election campaigns.  There are times it will likely run beside the very attack ads it's ridiculing.  Rather than wallow in platitudes and promises, (the last 4 seconds notwithstanding), it entertains, by tapping the mind of the viewer.  It says "we get that you're annoyed with nasty political attacks:  so let's have some fun.  It says "we understand you."  It ingratiates by entertaining.

That's branding.

An all-time great spot?  No.  A clever combination of advertising and branding?  Definitely.

Want to serve your client?  Serve your client's client.

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I can't give any nod to FedEx without reviving this:  a favourite from a past Super Bowl:

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