CRAFT: COLUMN; An original idea is worth more than a big budget

Jan van Meel explains why his agency won the film Grand Prix at Cannes this year. The winning Rolo ad, called ‘elephant’, is a simple, low- budget film. It starts with a small boy at the zoo teasing a baby elephant with his last Rolo. Years later, the elephant recognises his tormentor in the crowd at a circus parade, and vengefully lashes out with his trunk at the now grown man.

Jan van Meel explains why his agency won the film Grand Prix at Cannes

this year. The winning Rolo ad, called ‘elephant’, is a simple, low-

budget film. It starts with a small boy at the zoo teasing a baby

elephant with his last Rolo. Years later, the elephant recognises his

tormentor in the crowd at a circus parade, and vengefully lashes out

with his trunk at the now grown man.



The idea behind the Rolo campaign can be understood by everyone,

regardless of race, religion, sex or age. The hero is a bad guy, but the

childish appeal of the gag is universal.



The ad’s strength lies in the simplicity of the message, which comes out

of the proposition - be careful what you do with your last Rolo - that

we communicated as powerfully as we possibly could.



The film was made on a limited budget, but we didn’t let this affect the

quality of the work, and the fact that Rolo won the Grand Prix shows

that the jury valued the power of the idea over the power of a budget.

We’re all for it.



A good idea tells more than a thousand pictures. Good advertising

revolves around simple, relevant and original ideas, and it is possible

to find advertising professionals and clients all over the world who

realise this. If you don’t have a big budget to draw people’s attention,

you need to catch their eye in a different way. You have to spend more

time working on the idea and less time discussing it in meetings.



Some people are better at building cars, and others are better at

selling them. Clients who know this, and trust their agencies, get

prize-winning and effective advertising. These clients make Nissin

Noodles, Volvo, SAS, Diesel, OLW peanuts, Volkswagen, Energizer and so

on.



The point is: there aren’t many of them. In the past, good clients and

agencies were found only in countries with a history of advertising,

such as the US, the UK and Japan.



However, this is no longer the case, and, just as advertising is now

important in virtually all countries, so good agencies can be found all

over the world.



Agencies have to make conspicuous, attention-grabbing advertising for

their clients while ensuring that it is also capable of selling the

products. There is only one way to achieve this - by distinguishing

oneself through ever fresher and more original ideas.



Logically, it is these forward-looking agencies that threaten the ‘big

boys’ of the UK and US. It’s a very healthy development.



Jan van Meel is a joint creative director at Ammirati Puris Lintas,

Amsterdam



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