BY STAN BASHMASHNIKOV – SMB.COM
Vitality still exists in the creative industry. Yes, and more so than ever before – as proven last week. New York City hosted Creative Week from May 9th – 15th to celebrate the most ingenuous, innovative, and introspective minds in advertising, design, and digital media. The One Club, a non-profit organization that aims to propel the recognition and promotion of excellence in advertising served as chief host for what was a week filled with tremendous highlights.
Before acknowledging the present, humility still lies in appreciating the past. The awards have truly evolved throughout the years. In 1961, the Advertising Writers of New York first awarded “Gold Keys” to honor great copywriting. 15 years later, the Gold Key was aptly replaced by the Gold Pencil. Evidently, the times have changed. The keys on a typewriter and lead pencils are rarely used in modern day ad agencies. But the memory remains. The next generation of creative minds has never looked so promising.
The Gold Club organization was generous enough to provide me with a Creative Week Press Pass that granted coverage of the week-long events from an angle exclusive for most. I am both grateful and humbled by this. There was so much content to absorb. But one theme was clear: brands were extending beyond TV and branching out into the real world. What I mean is, brands such as Old Spice, Gatorade, and Nike – for example, had integrated the user-experience into their campaigns (which we will get into later). The games had definitely changed – and in my opinion, for the better.
The icing on the ad-cake was the The One Show – a who’s who awards gala comprised of modern day Mad Wo/Men from the advertising industry. The scene was elegant and classy. Top-shelf mixers were shaken, not stirred. Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center was flowing with cocktails, hors d’ourves, and the muffled sounds of creative conversations that one could only hope to catch a dose of. Of course, this is to be expected. I could tell after conversing with a few award recipients and their colleagues in attendance – I was in for an eye peeler. It didn’t end there. A celebrity showing had also made their mark. Isaiah Mustafa, better know as “The Old Spice Guy,” was the show host. Not to be outdone – house DJ ?uestlove of Grammy award-winning Philadelphia hip-hop band The Roots provided a great mix of musical ambiance in the theater. The power players were all in attendance: Oglivy, DDB, BBDO, Leo Burnett, Weiden+Kennedy, TBWA – among others. Curtains up.
It was extraordinary to finally be able to associate not only names, but faces, with creative campaigns. Ads from tv, print, and digital immediately became even more familiar. My eyes were telling my mind: “Are you seeing this?” More notably, Ogilvy’s Topsy (VIDEO) campaign resonated ever-so deeply with the audience. The project followed a woman living with AIDS for 90 days. The goal was to document her medical treatment that she previously didn’t have access to. The commercial, ingeniously, is played backwards from Day 90. You are introduced to a timid woman. By Day 1, you feel the hairs stand on the back of your neck. The words “miracle” and “hope” come to mind.
Best in Show – it seemed – was a lock for Old Spice. After all, their bread and butter was hosting the show. Not so fast, extremely eloquent and funny, Old Spice Guy. Nike’s Write The Future (VIDEO) took the grand prize. Such a commercial, done to this caliber, is fantastic in all sense of the word. If you are unfamiliar with it – Nike launched the campaign in June of 2010 to coincide with the World Cup. The effort was aimed to make up for the fact that they were not official sponsors. It did the trick. The 3-minute storybook sequence showcases superstar, I mean superheroes – in their respective countries – all on one field, and the “journey” they must take to win the cup. Coupled with a few cameos, the player’s personalities really get to shine. The message: you control your own destiny, or more aptly put: “Write The Future.”
The following night, the One Show Interactive awards were held at Terminal 5 - showcasing the best of the best in digital and online advertising. Essentially, this was the virally-inspired, new wave of advertising tactics that the industry has seen as of late. Kevin Swanepoel, President, puts it all into perspective: “Ten years ago, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube didn’t exist. Google had eight employees and was little more than a promising search engine. Facebook now has over 500 million users who spend 700 billion minutes per month on their site. Twitter users are sending out 55 million tweets a day. YouTube users are watching 2 million videos a day.” Retrospectively, these are powerful benchmarks to consider. And so, while some individuals grew weary and cautious of the times – the brave few marched on. He adds “This simple insight led our winners to use social networking in blog and innovative ways – to create wonderfully entertaining branded entertainment. Their adaptation and adjustment of their craft to the consumer marketplace are the reason they are being recognized.” Clearly, the rules are being re-written. We live in a society that is ever changing. Those part of the new media are the ones doing the writing.
Droga5′s Puma (VIDEO) Hardchorus campaign was a definite crowd-pleaser. Who doesn’t like English football? Who doesn’t like singing? Mix them together. A group of twenty plus English football fans, or “hooligans,” gather around a camera to sing Savage Garden’s “Truly,Madly, Deeply.” That sentence alone should be enough reason to see it. The comedic undertones and halfway-decent harmony is even more reason to enjoy this delightful ad. I love 90s music, and hate to admit that I knew the words to that song. But, evidently I’m not the only one. Nicely done, Droga5.
TBWA’s Gatorade Replay (VIDEO) campaign won multiple Gold, Silver, and Bronze pencils at both shows. The Replay campaign principle tugged at every athlete’s nostalgic recollection: the chance to replay a memorable game from their past. Limits had to be made. Gatorade selected various games – primarily along the criteria that the game ended in controversial or abrupt fashion. In one specific instance, two rival high-schools in Detroit took the ice eleven years after a 1999 hockey game almost cost a player his life. One can only imagine the overwhelming closure completing such a game can produce.
Creative Week reminded all that unwavering creative thought and a well-crafted idea can go a long, long way. Even to an award show. Even to have the idea be the host. It is remarkable – and again, a true testament to the minds behind the wheel. The medium for which the message is conveyed is limitless – more so than ever before. Television and print campaigns, once the pioneers of the industry, are now being complimented with a strong social media and digital marketing presence. Well rounded approaches lead to significant results. Having all of these tools in an organization’s arsenal is well – deadly.
Stan Bashmashnikov (@stanmichaelbash) runs stanmichaelbash.com, focusing on topics including online marketing, social media, and innovation. Please visit the Contact Me link at the bottom of the page for more info.