FRANCE, ITALY, SPAIN: The Art of Advertising

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 13 June 2003 12:00AM

Three creative directors from France, Italy and Spain single out their favourite advertisements from the past year, some of which may well be picking up a Cannes gold at the Palais des Festivals.

SPAIN: "AN EXERCISE IN BRILLIANCE"

Toni Segarra creative director, SCPF

Honesty. It can't be too common in Spanish advertising so I'm surprised to find it in these ads for McDonald's.

I would have paid to see the client's reaction when the people from Vitruvio Leo Burnett presented the campaign to them.

The brief would have been clear: yet another promotion among the many launched by the fast-food chain.

This time it was giving away a transparent glass, screen-printed with the Coca-Cola logo. You go to McDonald's and buy a set meal and they give you a glass. It's as simple as that. Just one thing should be mentioned: the promotion was not original. Some months before, it had already been launched by another brand. Burger King, to be specific.

Fancy that! McDonald's copying its main competitor's promotion.

It's not a bad idea at all - but a poisoned chalice? What do you do?

Do you pretend there's nothing amiss and launch the promotion as if there was nothing unusual about it?

Do you explain it away?

Do you try to persuade people it's not exactly the same promotion?

Or do you simply tell the truth?

Very few people would have chosen the last option, but the people at Vitruvio Leo Burnett did.

The campaign comprises several ads. All of them focus attention totally on the glass in question and the set meal you have to buy to get the glass.

I imagine the client's face would have shown great satisfaction up to this point.

An off-screen narrator tells us the truth of the matter.

In the first ad the narrator gives a totally natural explanation of how the promotion had already been run a few months before by a competitor and how McDonald's thought it was interesting and so decided to repeat it. The message is as clear as the free glass itself.

The second ad is based, with unusual honesty, on the mechanisms hidden behind any promotion: we don't get the glass for free but we get it at a good price because we buy in bulk. As we know that giving it away will attract more people to buy our set meals, the increase in sales more than justifies the investment in the give-away.

In another ad, the narrator's now-familiar voice feels the need to explain to viewers the real use of the gift and states that what is being given away is a Coca-Cola glass.

It is not necessarily to be used for Coca-Cola because the glass can just as well be filled with any other liquid.

I love simplicity.

I insist on honesty.

I envy intelligence.

No other Spanish campaign this year has managed to surprise me and excite me as much as this modest promotion, which is just one of the thousands that McDonald's launches every year. It is an exercise in brilliance that arose from a problem nobody would have ever considered to be a great opportunity.

A great lesson: there's nothing more surprising than telling the truth.

What a sad lesson it is.

ITALY: "A GOOD PORTRAYAL OF GENUINE DESIRE"

Maurizio Sala chief creative director, Armando Testa Group

For once, it is not difficult to choose the best Italian campaign of the year. The TV ad for the Peugeot 206 easily stands out as being the best.

The story of the young Indian guy who tries his hardest to transform his old banger into a Peugeot is a great example of simple advertising and a brilliant creative idea.

Rarely have I seen such a good portrayal of genuine desire for a product and the pleasure that its ownership brings. The likeable and ingenious protagonist connects well with the young target market.

This is definitely a campaign that works on an international level, and I pay it my compliments.

FRANCE: "WE ARE SURROUNDED BY IDEAS"

Benoit Schmider, creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Paris

For me a good ad is something that you want to put on the wall in your flat, and this TBWA/Paris ad for Sony PlayStation, "the headshop", would take pride of place.

As far as marketing is concerned, this is a fantastic way to express the selling point of Sony PlayStation: you can live many different lives as many different people. Also, being able to change your head at any time is one of my personal dreams. That's especially true when I play International Soccer which, after I've played it for one night, makes me look like a zombie.

As far as craft is concerned, I love the way that the photographer Dimitri Daniloff respected the creative ideas while adding so much detail in each execution. I recently worked with Dimitri and I think he's the next Gondry.

He seems to be able to do everything, and can create incredible compositions without letting it go to his head.

But going back to "the headshop", I just wish he had chosen to include the head of Thierry Henry, my favourite player.

The other French campaign I would highlight is Amnesty International, also from TBWA/Paris. It shows a very clever use of bars and railings, behind which is placed a photograph, giving the impression of imprisonment.

This campaign illustrates that we are surrounded by ideas. We just have to find them.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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