Newspaper Advertising - The Creative Potential: The Guardian - UK

BACKGROUND

Over the five years it ran, The Guardian's "Fresh" attained legendary status among UK press campaigns. There was a vast number of executions - a different press ad appeared each week during the campaign's busiest period.

"Fresh" has won a host of prizes, including Campaign Press and a D&AD yellow Pencil for best integrated campaign.

DDB London was briefed to bring The Guardian from the fringes of the mainstream without compromising its values. It did this by showcasing the newspaper's content in a tone of voice that was inspired by the editorial.

The aim was to subvert people's perceptions of The Guardian as boring, monotone and worthy.

The press ads, which ran mainly in The Guardian itself, were part of a multimedia campaign embracing print, ambient, online, TV and radio.

DDB produced as many radio ads as it did print executions.

Many people worked on the various ads over the course of the campaign, but the client, Marc Sands, who became the marketing director at The Guardian in 2000, saw it through from its inception.

The campaign ended last September, when the paper relaunched in the Berliner format. DDB's new campaign, called "Think", is a response to The Guardian's desire to be part of an upstream cultural force in the UK, encouraging people to engage and think for themselves rather than simply digest information passively.

DDB has a history of working with the paper. Although it has only held the account for five years this time around, it worked for The Guardian in the 80s on "Points Of View", one of the most acclaimed television commercials of all time.

The agency's press advertising has a world-class creative reputation.

DDB won the Cannes press Grand Prix in 2004 for its work for Volkswagen and has scooped Cannes golds and D&AD yellow Pencils for its work for Lurpak and Harvey Nichols.

This may be a reflection of the strength of the press in the UK, where there is a combined daily newspaper circulation of more than 17 million copies each day. Although some clients shy away from newspapers when looking to run brand campaigns, many advertisers have used the medium to great effect.

REVIEW - Dave Alberts chairman and executive creative director, Grey London

When asked to choose my favourite newspaper campaign of the past few years, the first thing that came into my head was The Guardian.

I should clarify that it was not because I thought they meant favourite newspaper campaign or the fact that I had a wonderfully designed piece of journalistic prose in my hand at the time. (If the new Guardian does not pick up every design award going, I will write a letter to the paper to complain.)

I chose The Guardian because it answers every challenge a creative brief could ever ask for and more. "Can you give me a campaign with unique/ownable look/feel?" "Can you create a flexible campaign that can communicate something new every time and talk to different target audiences every week?" (But please don't ignore the first point.) "Can you do something that reflects where we are and moves us forward?"

I have had many clients ask for an O2 the more intelligent ones ask for a Tesco. However, I more often find myself going back and saying: "Wouldn't you rather have a Guardian?"

Over the past three years, the campaign has continued to offer fresh executions. By the very nature of the category, the lead story changes yet the ads themselves have a similarly intelligent tone of voice.

"Camouflage", "Politics By The Sea", "Ants", "Frock" - the latest batch is as well-crafted as the original. They have a quiet, strong confidence that demands attention rather than says: "Look at me."

The small Guardian logo, unit, headline is so complete. It does not get in the way of the weekly subject; it endorses it.

As is the case with The Economist campaign, it demands an understanding of the brand (something I feel has been lost with Economist ads of late) and yet, like Tesco, it also demands a new execution that helps diversify the paper's offering.

As a creative, I would love to get the next Guardian brief. As a creative director, I would love the account.

I am always telling our clients: "Spend on executions, but please invest in campaigns." I would invest in the Guardian campaign.

I love and read the product and I love and read the ads. Now, excuse me while I get back to the paper.

CREDITS Titles: "Frock","Politics By The Sea", "Camouflage", "Ants" Client: The Guardian Agency: DDB London Writers: Adam Tucker, Andrew Fraser, Matt Lee Art directors: Justin Tindall, Peter Heyes, Grant Parker Creative director: Andrew Fraser Typographer: Peter Mould Photographers: Andy Cameron, Sara Morris, Giles Revell Illustrator: Peter Mould