I Like My Advertising Edgy, But I Want You To Be Faithful

In the creative industry there is a strongly held belief that everyone is trying to balance on the razor edge of creativity. I once had an art director flat out refuse to put the brand on a poster because it made it look less cool. Needless to say he was in the wrong industry, it’s called advertising for a reason.

Without going to such extremes, there are a lot of clients who will join you in wanting a unique and memorable creative piece. The challenge is getting something that is new and different, to meld smoothly with all the past communications. Here are a couple of thoughts that might make that easier.

Be True
Unless you’ve been briefed to shake it up, stay true to the brand. There is nothing more frustrating for a client then receiving some really great ideas that don’t gel with their brands tone or image.

Here is a FedEx ad with a good idea and a big budget production. Historically, FedEx has been known for its reliability when the delivery is urgent. This ad has some awkward audio, at the beginning, about delivering heart tissue for an operation– followed by a very relaxed gentleman strolling along on his mission to deliver the heart parts, seemingly without a care in the world.

Where are the famous FedEx speed, concern and focus on delivery? When you do something unique and unusual, get someone to sense check that the DNA of the brand is still intact. It’s easy to get carried away with the quality of the execution and overlook the fact you’ve lost something critical. Personally, I’m not convinced the patient will survived this heart operation.

Its got to be you
Another thing that helps the client buy something edgy, is showing  why it’s only credible and ownable for their brand. There are some entertaining ads out there that could have any brand at the end, for me the Cadbury ads: Gorilla, Airport trucks and Eyebrows, fall in that bracket. If  your product can’t be replaced with someone else’s, because the story falls apart, you know you’re on to a winner.

I love this ad for The National Lottery in Spain. It’s funky and intriguing but most importantly the payoff fits perfectly with the brand. I’ve seen this style of work before but it’s usually signed off with a perfume package shot or jeans brand and not much relevance. This ends with the payoff being literally a payoff.

With a little care you can head into unchartered territory without leaving historical brand equity behind. If your ad makes it clear what the brand stands for, and it could only be theirs, you can climb right out on that creative edge.

At the end of the day, you and your clients want the same thing; an ad that makes people sit up on the sofa and shout to their flatmates to “quick, come see this.”

FedEx Hollywood, BBDO NY
National Lottery, Shackleton Madrid

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