Talk about sentimental

Video

Of the many times I’ve seen this ad, it’s never failed to give me the feels. Maybe I’m “just being a girl” or that I’m generally on the emotional side, but the way this ad makes me feel is sure evidence that Wrigley’s Extra Gum and Energy BBDO fabricated a purely emotional architecture to represent a brand and its product.

I think it’s safe to say that it’s not often you can view a piece of advertisement and say, “wow that was good.” For me, this was downright beautiful and I don’t even chew gum.

It’s predictable from the start: two teens fall in love, get jobs, attempt long distance, fight, and ultimately get married. Sound about right? Whether you know that rare someone with this story or you’ve read it in a book, it’s what we commonly know as the “high school sweethearts.” Since we all know life is typically far from this fairytale, while the story fails to relate on a personal level with its viewers, it’s the familiarity of the story that sits with us.

It punches you right in the gut with a love story most could only dream of (if you’re into that kind of thing). It’s disgustingly cute. To top it all off, the captivating sound of Haley Reinhart’s cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” pulls it all together with sentimental vibes. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I would personally like to applaud Energy BBDO for this phenomenal piece of work. In continuation of the “Give Extra, get extra” campaign, the planning and creative teams pieced together, yet again, another compelling story for the world to enjoy. They seamlessly placed the insight behind the campaign at the forefront by telling a story instead of selling a product. “Sometimes the little things last the longest” – a tagline allowing each viewer to designate their own meaning, unique to themselves. What’s funny when you take 10 steps back, is that the tagline taken quite literally, refers to a simple piece of gum with long-lasting flavor – I haven’t forgotten, but maybe you have. This is precisely what I love about advertising.

Creative insights don’t happen over night. As a new student to Planning, I envision the research process behind this campaign warranted a deeper understanding of pure human emotions. Asking the basics: Why do people chew gum in the first place? Then figuring out the behaviors attached to the act of chewing gum and ultimately the emotions tied to that action. Taking seemingly simple information and attempting to present it in a truly compelling way.

It doesn’t scream advertising. What resonates isn’t even the product itself but the wrappers, the doodles, and most importantly, the final scene where each memory combines in that single notable moment of every couple’s life. That’s the punch. That’s what’s memorable. They discovered the small, the unique, the silly and used it to tell a story. It’s the little things that resonate.

What resonates with me most, is the fact that something as mundane as gum can be transformed into a compelling love story that even I will admit would be the most precious proposal ever.

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Briefly

If you’re interested in planning or are simply curious in how ideas become tangible results, you should watch this brief documentary on Vimeo.

What I loved most about this documentary is not only its short length, but that it reaches beyond creative briefs within advertising agencies. There are book illustrators, architectural designers, and creators of all kinds that are receivers of creative briefs. I didn’t actually realize briefs were applicable beyond ad agencies.

The creative brief has a number of important duties, the most important of which is inspiring the people who have been tasked with solving the problem. A brief should be a thought-starter. It should be concise and constrained to a particular fixed medium, while simultaneously providing breathing space for Creatives. “A brief has to leave a lot of room. You have to be given a lot of runway, a lot of runway so you can take off,” President at GX John C Jay explained. This truly highlights the role of the brief as something that will continue to change as time goes on. The more brainstorming that is done and the more conversations that are had, the more the brief will transform. The reality is, creative briefs are meant to be challenged and changed.

I was particularly intrigued by Illustrator Maira Kalman’s take on the creative brief as something that has somewhat of a dual identity. “The nice thing about the brief in my world is that it’s both extremely pragmatic and concrete […] and then the brief is fantastically elusive and completely romantic,” she said. It is both a limitation and an invitation.

One thing that stuck with me from this documentary is that the term “Creative Brief” is in a sense contradictory of what a brief truly is. A brief is the establishment of a relationship between creators and clients, and this relationship is one that is intended to be far from brief. Relationships build trust and confidence, which in turn gets things going the right direction. Briefs don’t serve the purpose of ordering Creatives what to do and how to do it. Rather, they explore where clients want to go, what they dream of, and what their vision is – that goes much deeper than a request for an ad. “We say no to clients that come to us wanting a campaign. We say yes to the ones that are really great, have exciting problems and opportunities, and want a long term relationship,” CEO of 72andSunny John Boiler said. No matter how much this concept of building relationships is drilled into my head, I will always believe it makes the process that much more enjoyable, meaningful, and efficient.

On a final note, I learned a great deal from the discussion on the role of truth. Not every creative brief hits a home run on solving the problem. As Jay explained, if it’s not true then just stop. “You always have to be protected by truth. You’re naked without the truth; there’s nothing left. Cut the marketing bullshit and get to the truth, and then we can go from there,” he said. A brief forces you to question everything and to ask why you are being asked to do anything at all. “It starts with why and it just keeps why-ing the hell out of you endlessly,” Frank Gehry, founder of Gehry Partner said. It requires a deeper understanding of how people live with their products and what role culture has in the life of the consumer. It’s “letting the process of being alive inform what I’m going to do,” Kalman noted.

So with all of this in mind… I will proceed to make my first creative brief for a project next Monday. Wish me luck.