campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 24 October 2008 12:00AM
One word dominated discussion within the juries at the inaugural Campaign Big Awards: fresh. Judges were charged with finding fresh ideas; fresh in their product category and their medium.
On Wednesday, 1,000 guests turned up at the Grosvenor House hotel to see that brief brought to life as Campaign united four of its existing creative awards and introduced sections for television and radio.
Campaign Press and Posters were the pioneers in this magazine's awards history. Direct and Digital were added to the mix later. But by 2007, Campaign began to wonder if those schemes had fallen victim to the over-complexity that easily bedevils advertising awards - too many awards, too many categories split too many ways, too much emphasis on the medium over how entries were likely to work in the genuine competition of real business. And the logic of not including radio and TV or cinema began to look very flimsy.
The changes to the awards have been - so far - very well received. Campaign has created a new, multi-disciplinary competition that honours all media side-by-side. And in staging one big event each year Campaign has reduced future agency costs for entries and table bookings.
As for the work, the most important test - three TV golds from Boots, Cadbury and Skoda - proves that this was a very good year to add TV and cinema to the mix. Carling and Lynx offered a benchmark of excellence in the digital arena, and direct, outdoor and press also produced a gold each. Only radio disappointed by not hitting the gold standard - but there's always next year.
The gold awards are reviewed here. For a complete overview, see the Big Book where all ten golds, 55 silvers, five commendations and 122 finalists are featured and credited. Copies at £30 are available from email@example.com.
DIGITAL: Carling, iPint
Client: Coors Brewers
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
As if the iPhone wasn't desirable enough in the first place, Beattie McGuinness Bungay brewed up a storm this year by creating one of the most sought-after applications that can be downloaded free to the phone.
Developed in conjunction with Sweden's Illusion Labs, the iPint, which can be downloaded on to an iPhone from Apple's iTunes site, features an interactive game where players tilt their phone to help slide a pint of beer down a bar, avoiding obstacles along the way.
Once completed, the iPhone's screen fills with Carling as if it were a real pint glass. The virtual lager reacts just like real liquid, allowing you to swill it round the glass and "drink" it up by tipping the phone.
Carling says that consumers' reaction to the application was phenomenal. The iPint shot to the top of the iTunes free games application chart, and eventually became the most downloaded free application in the world.
"It basically became the definition of a viral piece, in the fact that if you're a bloke of a certain age then it's going to be an essential thing to have on your phone," Mark Cridge, the digital panel chair and the chief executive of glue London, says.
"The beauty of it is that it's a small, simple and focused idea that uses the medium fantastically well. It wasn't trying to do too much, it wasn't being clever just for the sake of being clever. It just worked."
Of course the campaign has run into a spot of bother recently, with BMB and Coors being hit with a £7.1 million lawsuit from the Nevada-based developer Hottrix, which claims that the agency ripped off its iBeer application. But the judges merely saw this issue as another example of BMB's ingenuity.
"We all recognised that it imitated an idea that was already out there," Cridge said. "But we just thought that it was a classic example of an agency finding something interesting, and recognising that by aligning it with a brand like Carling, then it could create an even bigger and better idea."
DIGITAL: Lynx, Get In There Mobile Tools
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
You'll have noticed by now that there were two gold awards in the Digital category. You will also have noticed that both were taken home by what you might call "traditional" agencies, not digital specialists.
So is this proof that traditional agencies' strategic capabilities will ultimately win through over the digital specialists? It's certainly proof that you don't need to have been born a digital agency to come up with first-class digital ideas, ideas that even the specialists have to applaud.
Mark Cridge, the Digital panel chair and chief executive of glue London, insists that the category was judged as a level playing field. "Even a panel of digital people wouldn't go out of its way to bar a traditional agency," he jokes. "Digital agencies won't naturally inherit the earth - we're all going to have to fight now."
He uses BBH's winning entry to show how well traditional agencies can get to grips with digital and mobile briefs by simplifying them and understanding the audience.
"It's hardly the most sophisticated application," he says, neither from a technical or user point of view - the tool makes noises such as an harmonica, a round of applause or a fit girl detector. "But it's genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and you can easily imagine blokes in the pub, or kids in the schoolyard, using it."
When pressed on whether he'd use the application himself, Cridge claimed he was "a bit out of the target market" and "too refined", if you believe that.
The application also stands out because of the waves created when BBH won the Lynx digital business from one of the hottest digital agencies around, Dare, which had been creating consistently good above-the-line work for the client for years. The challenge was sizeable; BBH met it head-on.
DIRECT: Flora, John Wayne
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
"Walking like John Wayne" is usually a euphemism for someone who has engaged in a night of sexual athletics, due to the bow-legged gait employed by Wayne, who spent most of his career playing cowboys (who spent most of their time riding horses).
However, for this Flora campaign, supporting the Flora London Marathon, BBH employed the thought in a viral to illustrate the way people look, feel and walk the day after the event.
The film was the final part of an integrated campaign designed to not only target runners in the annual London event, but to raise awareness of the importance of keeping fit and healthy - and how Flora can help achieve this through a balanced diet.
The viral part, which could be sent to friends, was sent on the Monday morning to everyone who had taken part in the race as a thank you.
But where's the paper? Isn't this the Direct category? Good questions both, but ones that are batted away by the Direct panel chair and vice-chairman at the Ogilvy Group, Rory Sutherland, with his usual eloquence.
"It doesn't have to be printed on paper to be targeted. And it wasn't because it was just some viral either. This went to everybody who ran in that race the day after. It was empathetic - I'm not a marathon runner, obviously, but I could fully understand the pain. It had perfect targeting and perfect timing. Every recipient would have received around 1,500 pieces of communication in the following week and none of the other 1,499 would have stuck in their minds like this one.
"It also managed to make sponsorship meaningful, which almost never happens."
OUTDOOR: The National Gallery, Grand Tour
Client: The National Gallery
Agency: The Partners
Let's face it, what you usually expect to find adorning the streets of central London is a whole host of Starbucks and people trying to offload a copy of thelondonpaper on you. But a Van Gogh or Botticelli masterpiece? Not likely.
However, that's what The Partners did to promote the National Gallery and its sponsor, HP.
For 12 weeks, 44 exact scale replicas of paintings that can be found in the National Gallery were hung around the streets of Soho, Piccadilly and Covent Garden, in sites that complemented or contrasted with the paintings.
"I think the National Gallery's problem beforehand was that people didn't realise that they liked art in the first place, so the campaign made the effort to bring the art to the people," Ewan Paterson, a judge in the outdoor category and the executive creative director of CHI & Partners, says.
"You then found the public being surprised that they actually liked the art that was being shown around London."
Each reproduction carried information about the painting, directing the public to the Gallery's Grand Tour website.
"The fact that they reproduced the paintings almost 'for real' in real frames and in the exact size they are in the gallery was what made it great," Paterson says. "Also, by putting the prints in places that you wouldn't expect worked well - the bigger the juxtaposition, the bigger the impact."
More than 28,000 people picked up a Grand Tour map from the gallery during the campaign and 26,000 people visited the specially created website. Five even broadcast a 50-minute TV programme dedicated to the project.
And Paterson agrees that the campaign's success was extremely well deserved: "Good work should leave you inspired to go out there and do great work of your own, and I think that's what this campaign did.
"It was a true way of using the outdoor medium, a very simple idea that builds the public's excitement by confronting them with something they wouldn't expect to see on the streets of London. It was a deserved winner."
PRESS: Harvey Nichols, Menswear
Client: Harvey Nichols
Agency: DDB London
"I love it!" Rosie Arnold, the Press panel chair and the deputy executive creative director at BBH, exclaims, when asked why DDB London's press campaign, "Menswear", for Harvey Nichols won a Big Award gold.
The campaign, which launched in The Sunday Times Style Magazine in May 2007, definitely intrigued and amused the judging panel.
The ad features images that trace the life stages of two very different lives - one a success, with good clothes, and the other more humble.
One of the judges, Suzanne Douglas, Heinz's outgoing marketing director, explains: "It stood out, particularly in the context of the retail category because a lot of retail ads can be fairly boring and this one wasn't. It made you think and brought a smile to your face. It was fresher and different from the other campaigns.
"It was a bit different for retail and it fitted well for the brand. It was thought-provoking in a way that wasn't too obvious."
From a creative standpoint, Arnold fell in love with the campaign because it worked on so many levels. "It's one of those ads that you really want to spend some time with," she says. "It makes you laugh and question your own life and it also makes you want to go out and buy a new wardrobe.
"There has been a tradition of doing a big visual piece with a logo. The freshness of this approach was outstanding. The fact that you could get an intellectual and philosophical debate going, which is fun, by looking at how different lives can be summed up in this way is wonderful.
"The idea that you get a better life with better clothes and the life stages along the way made us all laugh." And Arnold for one was pleased to see that the creative directors at DDB London had not partnered the man with a successful life with a younger beautiful woman. "It depicts a beautiful, loving, long relationship."
TV AND CINEMA: Cadbury, Gorilla
Agency: Fallon London
A man in a gorilla suit drumming along to Phil Collins is a far cry from a woman sat on the sofa in a silk dressing gown seductively sucking on a wedge of chocolate.
And if someone had said at the beginning of 2007 that this would form the narrative of one of the year's most popular advertising campaigns, not just for chocolate but for any product, you would have probably assumed they were mad, or high.
But it was this unprecedented simplicity and surrealism that made the Cadbury "gorilla" campaign for Dairy Milk surprising and engaging to consumers, and propelled it into the advertising hall of fame.
As Damon Collins, the executive creative director at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, and one of the TV category judges, explains: "It's a rare thing to be able to say so much by actually saying so little."
The ad was the first of Cadbury's "Glass and a Half Full" productions, which spawned the follow-up "trucks" as well as the creation of an entire production company-style department within Fallon devoted to the campaign.
The initial brief was simple: replicate the feeling consumers got when eating chocolate when they watched the campaign. And for some reason, a gorilla flexing his shoulders and taking a few pensive breaths through flared nostrils, before exploding into impassioned drumming, did the trick.
"I think it struck a chord with the public in the same way that the sneezing panda has got millions of hits on YouTube; it's sweet and funny. It's very difficult to deny that when something has had such popularity with such a broad spectrum of people that it's a great piece of work," Collins adds.
And it was shifting chocolate bars too. By October 2007, just one month after the ad launched, sales of Dairy Milk had shot up 7 per cent and weekly sales were up 9 per cent year on year during the period "gorilla" was on air.
Although the "Glass and a Half Full" story is marred by more recent figures from TNS, showing that Dairy Milk has actually lost market share in comparison with Galaxy (a proponent of ads of the aforementioned woman-sits-on-sofa variety), the original execution still managed to reverse the negative media maelstrom that engulfed Cadbury in 2006, and ultimately won over the judges.
Collins, adds: "There really wasn't much discussion about gorilla during our deliberations and that says it all really. There was silence because the decision was clear."
TV AND CINEMA: Boots, Here Come The Girls
With "here come the girls", Mother proved that retail advertising can stand up and take on the big sexy brands.
Oozing with sex appeal and excitement, Mother tapped into one of the most powerful truths about women and the annual Christmas party: it's all about how you look on the night rather than the actual party. With that in mind, Mother had a strong strategic platform to showcase Boots' product range.
Mother says the idea for the campaign was inspired by the insight that all women want to look their most gorgeous at the annual office party, and definitely place more importance on it than men do.
Taking the preparation as seriously as preparing for war, the women of all sizes and ages arm themselves with lipstick and hairdryers instead of guns and grenades. The office becomes one huge beauty parlour, as conference rooms and space in the toilets become the battlefield for gorgeousness.
One of the Big Awards' judges, Russ Lidstone, the chief strategy officer at Euro RSCG, explains: "For a retailer, it's a bold move to use the epic nature of this execution. Fundamentally, what is really good about this ad is the well-founded truth on the female ritual of preparation. This is done in an uplifting and sexy way without resorting to cliches.
"Strategically it is on a very strong platform. There is a seamless integration of the Boots products and a clear demonstration of the role they play in that ritual over Christmas. When you are trying to talk about a range of products it isn't easy, but by using the ritual of preparation Mother does it seamlessly. The main reason we liked it was the sense of excitement conveyed in the execution. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek but it is like a feel-good movie; it's an optimistic take on what Boots can offer women."
TV AND CINEMA: Skoda Fabia, Cake
Agency: Fallon London
In the late 80s and early 90s, if you had said Skoda was better than Audi, BMW, VW and Honda, people would have thought you were crazy.
Then, after the highlights of "cog" and "grrr", if you'd also said that an ad about baking would move car advertising up a gear, you'd have been committed. But here we are.
Fallon's "cake" has moved Skoda up into pole creative position and made people re-evaluate what can be done in the motor industry at the same time.
"It's fresh, innovative and engaging, like 'grrr' was in its time," Paul Silburn, the Saatchi & Saatchi creative partner and one of the TV and Cinema judges, says. "It moved car advertising forward. To get such brand recognition without actually seeing the car was brilliant."
For those of you who spent last year under a mixing bowl, the ad shows a bunch of bakers doing what they do best: baking cakes. However, as the ad progresses it becomes apparent that they are putting a cake car together.
"It was a lot of cake mix, wasn't it?" Silburn says. The extraordinary craft that went into creating what was one of the year's most beautiful ads is very clear.
"People loved to watch it again and again. And it's the little bits that get you, such as the wobbly jelly brake light and the Golden Syrup being poured in instead of oil."
And this is some of what actually went into making the cake car: 448 brick cakes, 12.5kg of raspberry jam, 180 fresh eggs, 20kg of raisins and 5kg of cocoa powder as well as specialist cake bakers, such as a marzipaner, four home economists, a cake fabricator and a logistic machine operator/car builder.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk