EDITORIAL: Past inspires when radical is the norm

Simon Marquis, Zenith UK's chief executive and this year's chairman

of the Campaign Media Awards jury, strikes a worrying note with his

assertion that the "wow" factor was conspicuously absent from a large

proportion of this year's entrants.



Too many compositions that were no more than workmanlike and skillful -

too few of them really swung was his general verdict.



One of the Media Awards' jurors, CIA's David Fletcher, said that a great

media campaign is like a terrific piece of jazz. While rock is built in

layers with everyone in the group doing their own thing, jazz is most

effective when instruments bounce a theme from one to the other.



Why then was there a noticeable lack of great ensemble sounds from this

year's entrants?



One reason is that it's becoming harder by the day to devise a media

campaign which is truely innovative. Five years ago there was much that

was radical for its time. TV inflation and the determination to be free

of advertising clutter began turning convention on its head. Beer

manufacturers defied unwritten laws by launching new products in print;

carmakers opted for bus sides.



Today, radical has become the norm. Innovation has too often given way

to the obtuse quirkiness. It's been forgotten that great media

strategies are the ones that quietly seduce you rather than beat you

about the head.



Ironically, the effects of all this may be to turn the clock back a

decade.



Revisit the great media campaigns of the time and all had a single

distinguishing feature - their seamlessness. They were effective because

it was almost impossible to see the joins between creative and

media.



Judged on that criteria, Naked's Tokyo Life initiative for Selfridges is

a worthy winner of the Best Media Campaign of the Year accolade with

every piece of media activity seeming to be in harmony. The same can be

said of Starcom Motive's work for Johnnie Walker whisky, a fine example

of a well-articulated and simple idea which extends the "Keep walking"

idea into TV vignettes.



However, therein lies the fundamental problem in these days of

convergence and integration. If the best campaigns are a fusion of media

and creative, how is advertising to be properly judged? That's a

question that may not be resolved for some time. The more immediate task

is to ensure awards are not only fun and grown-up but have the added

benefit of engaging clients' interest.



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