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
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,