LINDA KRIGE writes…The latest global trends in brand communication were revealed at the Loerie Awards Seminar held at The Campus in Bryanston, Johannesburg, in July.
International chairmen of the Loeries Judging Panels, Andre Laurentino, Garrick Hamm and Adrian Miller shared their insights on breaking convention, being different and “interestingness’ at the seminar, which was attended by brand communication agencies and their clients and kicked off Loeries judging week.
Brave teams, brave clients
“Some things have evolved over time, like the telephone and the car key, but not the umbrella even though it’s not very efficient. Let’s not be the umbrella,’ urged Laurentino, a Brazilian-born sitcom writer, novelist and executive creative director of TBWA \ London at the recent Loeries Seminar.
Laurentino, also known as Dede, is head of the TV & Radio Communication category. He spoke of TBWA’s commitment to break with convention and urged seminar attendees not to hold on to established marketing norms during a time of “revolutionary change’ in the industry.
He mentioned the example of Dick Fosbury who revolutionised the sport of high jumping by going over the bar back first; a technique that was ridiculed at first, but is now used by practically all high jumpers and called the “Fosbury Flop’. In the same way, according to Laurentino, marketers need to look beyond traditional methods including TV, radio and print campaigns and do things differently.
Laurentino is also interested in the research on time and perception by US neuroscientist David Eagleman, showing that the more detailed a memory is, the longer a moment seems to last. Therefore the more familiar the world becomes, the quicker time seems to pass. “This is a way to turn a 30-second ad into something much longer,’ said Laurentino. “When something is done differently our brains notice much more detail. You also learn much more from such an ad than when it is done in the same way.’
A campaign for the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Akatu and innovative campaigns for Skittles and Gatorade were used as examples where TBWA broke conventions with great success.
However, Laurentino warned that innovative advertising needs brave clients and brave teams. “Part of the Skittles campaign was to “drown’ a guy with Skittles in a glass container, adding Skittles for every “like’ on Facebook. We didn’t know we would be spending the whole night fighting, crying and opening small packets of Skittles. It wasn’t easy.’
Garrick Hamm, head of the Loeries Communication Design category, is creative partner at the London based design consultancy Williams Murray Hamm (WMH) and executive president of the D&AD. He shared 20 lessons learned from his two decades of working in design for brands including Heineken, McVities Jaffa Cakes, Hovis Bread and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s food and kitchen shop Recipease.
Among his lessons were “if you really want to succeed, you have to put in the time’, “never trust a focus group’ and “every brief is an opportunity’.
Hamm said he also learned interesting things about where not to find creativity. “To get creative ideas you need to have your mind half freewheeling, like when you’re staring out the window of a train, which is a great place to get ideas,’ said Hamm. “I need to be out and about, not in front of a layout pad.’
He also believes in the importance of “creating difference’, or “zigging when the world zags’. He said that when you look at brands, they all look the same. “Do something different, but not for the sake of being different, it has to speak to the story of the brand,’ urged Hamm.
Something that Hamm does not believe is that good ideas can’t come from clients. “I don’t care where the great ideas come from, I really don’t. As long as it’s based on a truth, the consumer will see the truth and buy the product.’
South African born Adrian Miller is chair of the Loeries Print Communication category, and is chief creative officer of JWT Delhi and member of the JWT worldwide creative board.
He spoke about the importance of “interestingness’ to the industry, reflecting on his experience working in India. “We might think there are more important things than interestingness, like consistency or day after recall,’ said Miller, “but brands are like people. How often do you meet a girl and say she was really consistent and on-message?’
However, he said that being interesting is not the same as being entertaining. “The work we do needs to respect people’s brains, leave gaps for them to fill in and leave room for thoughts. Too much explanation deters interestingness,’ said Miller.
Advertising competes with all pop culture for the attention of people, emphasised Miller, quoting advertising legend Howard Gossage: “The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.’
He believes that brands need to go viral and spark conversation, even if they are divisive. “Communication doesn’t build brands, conversation builds brands, and conversations happen when things are interesting,’ said Miller.
The Loeries are South Africa’s premiere brand communication awards and take place from 16 to 18 September in Cape Town. US in autumn and in South Africa in October.