PERSPECTIVE: Small clients think big when it comes to creative output

’OK, so the client’s sitting in a big leather armchair and the voiceover goes: ’We’re not going to give you a regular commercial, instead we’re going to stuff gerbils into a cannon and shoot them through the ’o’ in a giant mock-up of the company logo.’ Then in the second spot, we’re going to tattoo the client’s name on children’s foreheads in a playgroup. And in the third, we’re going to let loose a pack of hungry wolves on a high school band as it marches around in the shape of the company logo.’

’OK, so the client’s sitting in a big leather armchair and the

voiceover goes: ’We’re not going to give you a regular commercial,

instead we’re going to stuff gerbils into a cannon and shoot them

through the ’o’ in a giant mock-up of the company logo.’ Then in the

second spot, we’re going to tattoo the client’s name on children’s

foreheads in a playgroup. And in the third, we’re going to let loose a

pack of hungry wolves on a high school band as it marches around in the

shape of the company logo.’



Hilarious they may be, but these are the kind of scripts that would have

Uisdean Maclean and his colleagues at the BACC reaching for the smelling

salts quicker than you could say ’among the 150 other BACC rules these

films flout, they contravene the regulations on the treatment of animals

in close proximity to humans’.



The ads were created by the New York agency, Cliff Freeman & Partners,

for outpost.com, the Internet-only store owned by Connecticut-based

Cyberian Outpost which sells branded computer products at

www.outpost.com. The point is they won two yellow pencils (for 30-second

ads and TV campaigns) at the D&AD awards last week and they’ve got

people talking.



The little Englanders are slagging them off for ’not getting past the

British censors so why should they figure in our pet awards scheme’

while the rest of the industry is heartily applauding the creative

thinking. My tuppence worth is to point out that of course they wouldn’t

pass the BACC test - even at its most inconsistent - but they certainly

serve as a wake-up call to those who think that great copy and simple

effective ideas start and stop with London agencies.



Not anymore they don’t.



It’s also become fashionable these days to express cynicism about

advertising that is produced on behalf of small clients like

outpost.com. The US agencies are great at this sort of work but you hear

lots of people suggest that such work isn’t ’real advertising’ on a par

with cars or beers or detergents. But if that were true, then all of the

ads out there for small clients would be great ads, which they’re not.

So I take a different view. Small-client advertising helps to maintain

the creative energy level at an agency, helping boost the work on other

accounts. Small-client advertising shows that agencies can do the craft

- that they can have big ideas, write well, art direct well and execute

well.



So the cynics - and the one thing I’ll grant them is that small clients

might be easier to sell an idea to - should reserve their scepticism for

outrageous ads with no commercial purpose, or ads for make-believe

clients, or ads entered into awards shows that never ran.



Finally, eagle-eyed readers will notice that, as of this week, you can

respond to the columns in Campaign without all that messy stamps and

phones stuff.



caroline.marshall@haynet.com.



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