5 February 2022

The quest for creativity

Kat Jackson
Head of Client Services

The quest for creativity… and reinventing the wheel

The quest for creativity… and reinventing the wheel

If you’ve worked in the media and marketing industries for as long as we have, you start to spot certain issues and trends pop up again and again.
Hardy perennials include: effective measurement. The changing agency model (and new entrants who think they’ve cracked it). The changing agency-client dynamic. And of course, what the latest hot new channel means to transform the advertising space. This year, it’s metaverse. You can hardly move for the hot takes.

All the while, there are (slightly) quieter forces revolutionising things from within, and without. It’s been hard to miss, for example, the voice of Led by Donkeys (above) when it comes to deploying some of the tactics of adland to make their political criticism known.

Partnering with other internet influencers like Cassetteboy (below), casually dropping social media videobombs to call out what they see as hypocrisy, and of course, touring their own out-of-home campaigns either on a back-of-truck board or projected up the side of the House of Commons. Led by Donkeys have become past masters at using classic advertising tactics to drive awareness – and encourage the spread – of their views.

Another agitator using the tactics from adland from within? Deadpool. Well, Ryan Reynolds. When not taking a break from blockbusters and buying Wrexham FC, he has rapidly become one of adland’s most reliable and engaging content creators.
Rather than (solely) relying on his celebrity to flog product (most of them owned by him), his ad campaigns for Aviation Gin, Mint Mobile (below) and others carry the essence of his snarky/sarky onscreen persona while also often taking a sideways swipe at established creative tropes.
Specifically looking at a subject close to my own heart, you need only look at his two Peloton associated ads to see how. First, by employing the focal ‘wife’ character of Peloton’s much maligned 2019 Christmas ad (top left video) in his own Aviation Gin creative (video 2), and playing with the narrative around that backlash.
More recently, Reynolds gave the Peloton brand back a boost by turning a rapid response film around in two days flat (video 3), as a quick and tongue in cheek crisis response after the Sex and the City revival ‘And just like that…’ used the bike to ostensibly kill off a character.
Most brands want to steer clear of political activism; one way or another, you alienate a good percentage of an audience. And most brands also can’t rely on the wattage and wit of a Hollywood star to back their campaigns.
So, what lessons can they learn? Simply this – the wheel doesn’t always need reinvention. Sometimes all the existing tools can still do the job, they just need to be approached from a fresh perspective. It’s natural to get excited about new mediums and their potential, and it would be a poor show for a company not to be looking at the metaverse and assessing its’ brand potential.
But the metaverse is not the only option. It will take time for good practice to be refined here, and trailblazers will need to accept there will be some trial-and-error work before big returns come back.
It pays not to just think that is the only channel that can innovate. Tried and tested media can still deliver the goods – especially if competing brands’ attention is fixed elsewhere, and campaigns can find alternative and yes, brave approaches to connect with people.
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