The Glue Society’s Jonathan Kneebone on 2018: The year when some creatives had time to master the new media, by using the old techniques
Life’s a pitch and then you die.
Unless you win the account of course. Then the undying stress of trying desperately not to lose the business begins.
Pitches are like life. The emotion and the drama. The anticipation and the joy. The disappointment and – perhaps – the relief.
Maybe pitch results should be delivered live via some sort of collective Facetime conference call. Just so everyone can see the losers’ faces like in the Oscars broadcast. And the winners can pretend to be surprised that their last minute decision to halve their mark up swung it for them.
Perched a little outside the agency world, on a tree looking through the window, it felt like most of the Australian advertising business was in pitch mode for the entire year. And I’m not just talking about the Tourism Australia one, which lasted for most of it.
The thing about pitching is that it feels like you are capable of doing anything. And doing it well. It’s only when you win the account that it suddenly feels like that this level of idealism is absolutely unrealistic.
But in amongst all the late night pizzas and 11th hour strategy changes, some people in the rest of the world were actually making work for existing, long-standing clients. And some were being stupid enough to be idealistic, taking the time to finally get to grips with the opportunities that the new media offer.
They had a bit of time, because this was the year that the technologists had other bigger issues to deal with as opposed to inventing the next big thing.
The Facebookers, Googlers and Twitterers were spending their days justifying that the big things they’d already invented weren’t corrupted or corruptible, damaging to our collective mental health or indeed giving voice to illegal agendas, swinging election results or causing entire countries to reach a state of ‘Mayday!’.
And that meant it became possible for some creative folk worth their salt to work out how to use the various platforms to create something newsworthy of their own.
An Instagram post, for example.
Over a black and white image of Colin Kaepernick, Wieden and Kennedy wrote a headline. ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.’
Every bit as good as an old fashioned billboard.
Yet it had global impact because the medium allowed it to travel way beyond the confines of an out of home site.
It worked so well, Nike is now doing the same thing with Raheem Stirling.
This is a brand using its core values to restate its reason for existing in the simplest possible terms across the broadest possible platforms.
A YouTube phenomenon.
An Oscar winner, Spike Jonze, directs a four minute surreal film featuring FKA Twigs to promote the Apple Homepod.
Every bit as good as an old fashioned music video.
But it had global impact because it wasn’t restricted to a TV station. And the brand was smart enough to get out of the way and let the creativity do the talking.
A PR apology.
With Mother’s help, KFC apologised for not having any chicken in their stores with a three letter headline. FCK.
Every bit as good as an old fashioned print ad.
Because this indeed was a single page print ad in two tabloid newspapers.
But because it was circulated on Facebook, it caused more positive feedback for a brand that was in crisis than most brands can dream of in good times.
The best work this year took traditional, brave simplicity to new places. And used the idea and the execution to create more than double the impact.
An artistic installation.
CALM’s work by Adam & Eve/DDB where 84 sculptures of men with hoods over the faces stand ominously on top the ITV tower in the UK helped record a 34% increase in the number of people reaching out for help with their mental health.
Every bit as good as an old fashioned poster.
But better because it was an event, an invitation to experience something and share that with others.
In one dramatic moment, this powerful, provocative, eye-catching, installation demonstrated how powerfully art can deliver meaning.
Kim Gehrig’s wonderfully celebratory film ‘Viva la Vulva’ for Libresse via AMV BBDO is about as brave as you can get in this day and age.
Constantly surprising, modern film-making and creatively entertaining, inspiring and rewarding.
And we should add Wieden & Kennedy’s Tom Bender and Tom Corcoran’s for Nike ‘Londoner’ and Three ‘Phones are Good’.
These are every bit as good as old fashioned cinema ads. But now taken to a wider audience thanks to the power of social sharing.
A Superbowl stunt.
‘It’s A Tide Ad’ may not be the most groundbreaking of work to earn itself a D&AD black pencil (it’s not a patch on Graham) but it’s certainly worthy of praise for bringing humour back to an otherwise emotionally drained audience.
And it’s every bit as good as an old-fashioned TV campaign.
And the very best work of 2018 includes other examples of advertising pure and simple taken to wider audiences through smart media choices and opportunism afforded by the new tech.
This wasn’t a year of the medium being the message. It was a year of the message exploiting the medium.
And for at least the foreseeable future, audiences might be allowed to be more interested in the work, than the way they consume the work.
Which rather annoyingly doesn’t bring me back to the first sentence of the article.
Ah well. Life’s a bitch.
Happy new year.