“We have to be the ones to make the judgement (on the work that is put out). Those who adjudicate decision-making to pre-testing should find another vocation,” said Bruce McColl, CMO, Mars.
With agency partner BBDO’s global CCO David Lubars, McColl made a presentation themed ‘How to do terrible work’ at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016, on 24 June. The duo outlined what clients and their agencies should not do – and should – to create great work.
One of the slides in the presentation read 'Maliciously Obedient', referring to agencies that do not question the diktat of the client. Lubars quipped that agencies 'say yes and yes and yes', until they find themselves being shown the door because they don't add value.
"We have to be willing to be told that we are making the wrong decision," stated McColl, urging marketers to not 'imprison the agency' imposing an environment of fear, and 'free up the agency to do their best work'.
The speakers showcased some work from Mars brands born of their relationship. After showcasing work that was created to drive home every attribute of the product, the marketer revealed that it wasn’t received too well.
The ‘freedom brief’
Mars decided to give the agency a little rope – it gave them a ‘freedom brief’, he explained. The result was the following piece of work, which won a Cannes Lion this year.
Extra Gum – The Story of Sarah and Juan
“You need to take some gambles,” said McColl, adding that the biggest risk was in putting out ordinary work that doesn’t cut through creatively.
“Clients are trying to avoid risk. The thing to do is do the rigour to show that it is not a risk,” elaborated Lubars.
Showcasing work on Skittles, McColl underlined the importance of drawing on the agency’s talent, institutional knowledge and capabilities to navigate the digital environment.
Lubars cited work on Pedigree which manifested itself across mediums. At the core of it was the thought that pets bring out the best in people.
Strategy versus insight
“It’s very tempting to confuse strategy for an insight,” observed McColl, adding that once the wider strategy was arrived at, one must trust the creative to arrive at ‘that reductionist nugget’.
Lubars added, “The holy grail of all great campaigns you have done is the platform.” Insights lead to that platform, he said.
For Snickers, the platform was ‘Hungry’. The ‘holy grail’ was ‘You’re not yourself when you’re hungry’. The platform allowed the brand to try different things, explained Lubars.
While a new film built on the platform went on to air during SuperBowl, for the campaign’s launch in the UK, a Twitter activity saw celebrities like model Katie Pierce and footballer Rio Ferdinand tweeting out of character – Price tweeted on macro-economics, while Ferdinand tweeted about his new hobby, knitting. Here (below) is a new film on the same platform, created for the Superbowl 2016.
Urging conversation and trust in the client-agency relationship, McColl said, “You have to build an enduring relationship. It doesn’t have to be nice and friendly (all the time); you have to agree to disagree.”
It all starts, the duo surmised, with sharing the same ambition, and sharing the responsibility.