BBH London and The Guardian newspaper recently launched a campaign called “Own the Weekend” promoting The Guardian and Observer weekend newspapers during what happens to be one of their toughest months. Using an extremely bold approach, the campaign positions the weekend newspapers as not only the most important component of a great weekend but as its owners too. In fact, they have essentially trade marked the weekend in the commercial:
Whether you find this commercial surprising, funny, excessive or brilliant you must agree that it is creative and different to any newspaper ad you have ever seen before. And in today’s competitive market, that means a lot.
David Kolbusz is the Deputy Executive Creative Director at BBH London and mastermind behind this campaign. With over 12 years experience in creative advertising, he has worked on many campaigns for leading brands such as AXE, Weetabix, Barclays, ASOS, Orange and Gold Spot, winning several awards along the way.
According to David, the “Own the Weekend” campaign brief was simple.
January is traditionally a terrible month for newspaper sales. There’s often a lot of post-Christmas drop off. We were charged with the task of combating this drain. Rather than do a simple promotion, we figured the louder we shouted the more attention we’d get. The Guardian isn’t particularly a shouty brand and so satirising big, promotional ads gave us the license to be as loud as we liked.”
In addition to the full length online commercial, shorter spots were aired in cinemas and VOD following outdoor, press and digital ads too.
“Own the Weekend” is not David’s only Guardian campaign. During 2012 he served as the Creative Director of the award-winning “Three Little Pigs” campaign:
The element of surprise is vivid in both campaigns, offering viewers something different, entertaining, something that sticks out from the rest and gets remembered. Owing to this, both ads are also of high viral value, attracted and viewed by millions online as well as shared across social media platforms.
BM: This led me to my second query – In such a competitive market, how do you manage to surprise and come up with new ideas that haven’t been done before, ideas that go viral?
David: “We never make a conscious effort to create ads that will “go viral”. Moreover, we try to make things that serve a business need but also entertain at the same time. And we’re our own harshest critics. If it’s not something we’d like to watch, we don’t do it. Once we’ve made something we like, we put it out into the world and pray that other people do too.”
Owing to the nature of the online, commercials today can be several minutes long, far more than the traditional 30 or 60 second TV spot. In fact, digital, social and viral advertising have freed advertisers of many restrictions they were once subordinated to, allowing content creation that is audacious and truly “out-of-the-box”. The two Guardian commercials are a great example of such – by content and duration.
BM: How do the ‘liberal’ attributes of digital advertising affect your creative thought process when planning a campaign?
David: “If there’s something made specifically for a digital channel, there’s always a temptation to luxuriate. Longer doesn’t necessarily mean better, though. We try and exercise the same discipline for work designed to live online as we do our television ads. We always knew ‘Three Little Pigs’ would air on TV, but knowing that we had the opportunity to make something longer length helped us relax and make the best film possible. At one stage we looked at a longer cut but two minutes felt just right. As for the ‘Own The Weekend’ campaign, the strength of the idea was in the gratuity of the execution, so three minutes felt appropriate. The important thing with that film was to make it modular so we could subtract or add scenes as we saw fit.”
BM: From your first Creative position at TBWA in Toronto to your current position at BBH London, you have an impressive portfolio. How do you get inspired for your creative ideas and what key ‘creative lessons’ have you learnt over the years based on your rich experience?
David: “Thank you. That’s a very kind thing to say. My inspiration comes from so many sources. I have a voracious appetite for the arts and take in as much visual art, film, music, theatre, literature, ballet, opera, design, architecture, and television as possible. Constantly engaging with other forms of creativity gets me excited and I channel that enthusiasm into my own work. As there are no tried and true tips or lessons for creativity, I’d just say that keeping yourself stimulated by other peoples’ work seems a good working practice. Be inspired, but never steal.”
BM: Looking back at the many campaigns you have managed, which campaign are you most proud of until this day and why?
David: “I don’t really play favourites. There are things I still love to this day dating back to my first job at TBWA in Toronto. I did a campaign there for a Mutual Fund company that had sponsored a film festival. The ads came out well, I thought, but what makes me happiest is that they still hold up to this day. I like all of my work to be as timeless as possible. Re-watchability is something I strive to achieve with every job I do.”
BM: There is no doubt that the advertising industry is constantly changing and re-inventing itself. As we are at the start of a new year, where do you think advertising is heading and what can we expect in 2013?
David: ”I’m hoping we can expect a return to great writing, great art direction, and great storytelling. Craft skills have been on the wane of late. We need to make work that sells, yes, but it needs to be entertaining and of a superior standard of quality.”
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