CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: ISSUE - Millennium campaigns. Are the party poopers missing out? Those who dodged the year 2000 bandwagon may now be kicking themselves

Fears about millennium apathy and the effects of the bug mean most advertisers are keeping a low profile for the year 2000 celebrations. But the few that have risen to the occasion with appropriate campaigns claim to be reaping the rewards of their commitment and vision. What’s more, since the predicted celebratory clutter has failed to materialise, those who have dared take up the theme are enjoying the spotlight on a relatively clear stage.

Fears about millennium apathy and the effects of the bug mean most

advertisers are keeping a low profile for the year 2000 celebrations.

But the few that have risen to the occasion with appropriate campaigns

claim to be reaping the rewards of their commitment and vision. What’s

more, since the predicted celebratory clutter has failed to materialise,

those who have dared take up the theme are enjoying the spotlight on a

relatively clear stage.



The best campaigns have taken a very human approach, employing themes of

warmth, celebration, humour and people’s awareness of this unique

historical milestone, and the theme has inspired many different

treatments. Ford has focused on the emotional links between

nationalities and cultures to make a global impact last month when it

launched a two-minute ’anthem to our customers’ throughout the

world.



The campaign, by J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, showed moving vignettes of

people saying hello and goodbye according to their customs, backed by an

evocative soundtrack sung by Charlotte Church.



’The warm response has been overwhelming,’ Michelle Cervantez, Ford’s

corporate advertising manager, says. ’It was a very appropriate gesture

for Ford to make.’



Procter & Gamble’s global Pringles ’conga’ commercial by Grey UK also

takes up the multi-cultural theme but creates a celebratory mood. Tim

Mellors, the creative director of Grey, explains: ’Pringles are really a

natural for millennium parties. We added the hook of this year’s biggest

international hit, Mambo Number Five, and produced an ad that’s

literally global.’



’Conga’ starts with surfers on a beach who start a conga to celebrate

the millennium. It’s taken up by Chelsea pensioners, African women, a

little Italian boy, a Chinese family and ends up at the Rio

carnival.



In New Zealand, the first country to enter the year 2000, there is a lot

of advertising and marketing activity around the date, but two of the

country’s biggest companies, TV One and Telecom NZ, have virtually

hijacked the event by creating the NZ Challenge, the largest

communications project ever held in the country.



Thought up by their mutual agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, Auckland, the

Challenge will video thousands of New Zealanders talking about their

thoughts and hopes for the new century. This, together with live

coverage of the New Year celebrations around the country, will be

broadcast for 24 hours at the New Year. ’The idea of creating this

unique archive of a nation’s feelings at the millennium has swept the

country,’ Geoff Vuleta, the chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi,

Auckland, says.



The appeal of being first to enter the new millennium was too much for

Euro RSCG to resist: it will be promoting itself with the first TV

commercial to be broadcast on the planet in the 21st century. The ad

will be shown in the Chatham Islands off New Zealand - the first

landmass to witness the millennium’s dawn - at 12.01 on 1 January, 2000,

and will feature famous firsts.



Other advertisers have sought a more personal note with which to inspire

and attract customers. The Metro department store in Singapore is

running a campaign through M&C Saatchi which encourages the

Singaporeans, who are notoriously rude, to be more polite to one

another. Huw Griffith, the chief executive of M&C Saatchi, Singapore,

says: ’It’s attracted a lot of attention and customers to the

store.’



De Beers diamonds and JWT Worldwide are making the most of the

once-in-a-1,000-years sales opportunity with a global marketing

programme featuring two ad campaigns targeting the East and the West

separately. Westerners will see a romantic, celebratory New Year

commercial, backed up by witty press ads. In the East, where diamonds

are valued as collectables, a TV campaign introduced a hallmarked ’2000’

range, with tiny diamonds as the zeros.



Given the marketing and advertising potential of the millennium, there

is now some surprise that more companies have not taken advantage of the

opportunity. ’There’s no doubt many consumers are suffering from

millennium apathy, and that in turn has permeated through to

advertisers,’ Charles Courtier, the managing director of Media Edge,

Young & Rubicam’s global media company, says. Fear, particularly on the

part of technology-based products and services like the

telecommunications, airlines and automotive sectors, is another factor.

Courtier adds: ’No matter how year 2000-compliant companies are, they

are still faced with consumer mistrust.’



Some advertisers, however, have felt confident enough to tackle the

issue head-on, resorting to that age-old human response to fear and

uncertainty - humour.



The Kia Motors America campaign by Goldberg Moser O’Neill of San

Francisco urges people not to panic, but to say Y2K - ’Yes to Kia’.



Toyota’s TV spot by Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, shows the lights

going out all over the city as midnight strikes. Then car headlights cut

through the darkness as the bug-free Corolla starts up. Scott Gilbert,

the chief executive of Saatchis’ LA agency, says: ’It was an opportunity

to showcase the Corolla’s reliability in a topical, fun way. It was very

relevant to the brand.’



According to Nike’s vice-president of US marketing, Mike Wilskey, the

millennium disaster hype was ’just asking to be lampooned’. Its

60-second ’morning after’ commercial by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland,

shows a runner getting up on 1 January with a millennium-sized hangover,

but still putting on the running gear and taking to the streets. Focused

on his daily workout, he is oblivious to the surrounding mayhem as the

world’s computer systems crash.



The end of the world may be nigh - but whatever disaster hits us in Y2K,

it’s not going to stop Nike from seeking higher sales.



Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).