Close-Up: An anatomy of the ads that made it to top Gunn

As the top dogs in this year's Gunn Report are unveiled, industry supremos explain why these ads have won so many awards.


- Damon Collins, executive creative director, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

The Crest campaign must be good. It's won awards at Cannes, the Clios and the One Show. What more proof of excellence could one ask for?

The commercials are a development of Crest's ongoing "healthy, beautiful smiles for life" campaign theme. They feature people who impart bad news while smiling, somehow managing to get away without being beaten up, divorced or shot for their admissions. Much of the humour appears to stem from the clever way their smiles are actually more worthy of a duffing-up than anything they say. The kind of smiles that make you long to hear the sound of broken teeth tinkling on a concrete floor. As with much advertising that wins at Cannes, what really deserves approbation is the masterful way the agency managed to sell such work to the client.

In this case, Saatchi & Saatchi New York instilled in Procter & Gamble the bravery to spend millions of dollars, in the US presumably tens of millions, on TV advertising that differs fundamentally from everything it has done in its 172-year history. No voiceover, no product benefit, no product demonstration and so on.

Here's hoping its change of tack not only tracked brilliantly but also helped sales soar. And here's hoping the ad they ran after this campaign aired - lots of smiling girls and a lengthy computer-generated demo, over which are voiced the words, "It's not love, it's new Crest Whitestrips premium, clinically proven to take off up to 14 years in only seven days. For a smile you'll love" - is only a small, tactical blip before they get back to running humorous, reductive, award-winning work again.


- Graham Fink, executive creative director, M&C Saatchi

I struggled to find 300 words to write about this ad. It's much easier writing about crap ones for some reason. With a great simple idea, you don't need to say anything. You just sit back and marvel, then you get all jealous and hate the creators for raising the benchmark even higher, then you marvel again and feel spurred on.

I'll have a go though. Beautiful, simple use of two colours, coming together to make a green-ish Jeep out of two symbols of hot and cold climes. No web address (it's easy enough to find Jeep info online, isn't it?). No add-nothing headline. No endline. It's lacking so much. Which is why it works so much.

It credits its audience with intelligence, giving them just the right amount of work to do. And Jeep comes out of it looking pretty smart, doesn't it?

A bad account person would argue that there's loads of information that could go in there that wouldn't detract from the brilliant visual idea. And he/she would be right, if the aim was good, not great. If you add a line to these ads, I reckon it would lessen the impact by about 68 per cent (although I admit that the official figures aren't in on this yet). A line would make it start to look like an ad. Well done, the creatives, for going anti-ad on this one.

And well done, the good account person, for going down to the client and selling an idea that has no words, yet says absolutely everything.


- Jon Burley, group executive creative director, Leo Burnett

Watching the Cannes entry for the Obama campaign, the first thing that strikes you is how excellent the Americans are at these awards films. Google "casemovies" and you'll see what I mean. I think it's down to the lack of embarrassment they experience when using terms such as "... for the very first time in human history ..." when referring to some pedestrian campaign for Turkey Twizzlers, and doing it without a single drop of shame trickling down their bum cracks.

But hyperbole aside, the Obama campaign was, to be sure, a powerful one. Social media is a horrifically clumsy and ugly tool when in the hands of the wrong people for the wrong brands, but I'd struggle to find a more appropriate purpose for it than an election campaign for Obama. Perfect brand, perfect channel fit. The modernity and "people's president"-ness of the man makes him as about as spot-on a poster-boy for digital as "new meeja" could hope for. Even "co-creation" - a ghastly term that normally makes me want to chew my own genitals off in a fit of marketing despair - in this case seems wonderfully inevitable, as opposed to lazy band-wagoning.

But should it have won at Cannes, that most creative of awards shows? I'm unconvinced, despite the slickness of the entry film.

For me, it is a lovely bit of channel strategy, and a superlative use of all the tools that technology can offer us. But creative? A leap of imagination that surprises, engages and convinces people to change their behaviour? I don't think so. It was the man and his supporters what won it, not the marketers.


- Dave Bedwood, creative partner, Lean Mean Fighting Machine

"Whopper sacrifice" is a bastard. I've seen it bring out the worst in judges on creative awards panels - the green-eyed monster.

Of course, some judges didn't like it. But from jealousy to feigned hatred, no-one can argue that it's become a defining example of this type of work, just like its older brother "subservient chicken" was for microsites.

Which is another reason why it's a bastard. Clients no longer want one of those "subservient chickeny"-type of things. Now they want one of those "Whopper sacrificey"-type of things.

It tickled the balls of all the buzzword merchants, social media gurus and digital creatives thirsting for the latest format trick. At the same time, it sated all the writers by actually being nothing more than a nicely written joke.

If you look at "Whopper sacrifice" again, it's nothing new at all. It's doing what great ads have done over the past 50 years, talk to people, charm them, be witty, be sharp, be challenging, be insightful - all the things technology and buzzwords can't provide.

Not to say I am not a complete sucker for the latest stuff. I love it. You just need to keep in mind that while our industry and technology changes at an incredible rate, what makes humans tick doesn't.


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