In the most anticipated session of Goafest 2011, delegates flocked to the seminar hall to listen to Sir John Hegarty, worldwide creative director, BBH, talk about the technological storm that has hit the industry in the last ten years. Calling his presentation ‘Super Bowl to Super Social’, Hegarty began by saying, “Many describe this as a creative destruction – technology destroyed one industry and created others. The thing with technology and creative people is that they get nervous. They don’t understand technology is an aid to creative. Without technology like the electric guitar, we’d all be singing folk songs and wearing open toed sandals,” he said.
Watch the Levi’s Flat Eric TVC (story continues below, along with the other BBH work in Hegarty’s showcase)
In the new market, brands move up and down the demand pyramid, versus just aspiring to move up to the exclusivity club. “For the fashion industry, people can go to GAP to buy a t-shirt, and pair it with a Hermes scarf these days,” he said.
The other common statement made in the same breath (or a few slides later in the presentation) whenever someone talks about digital, is that it gives the consumer full control. Hegarty argued, “But the consumer has always been in control. They had the money, and didn’t spend it on anything they didn’t like. What has changed now is that they can switch you off.”
Hence, in the digital landscape, the power of fame becomes more important. “Fame is a fantastic force in this marketplace,” said Hegarty. “The reasons being because it protects margins, resists competitive pressure and shorthands the decision making process.”
He added, “Brands are built not just by the people who buy it, but also by the people who know about it. So unless you’re broadcasting your message, you aren’t building your brand.”
Hegarty says the digital fog is now lifting. “Digital has huge potential as long as you get it in context. You have to give value to your client and get them return on investment,” he stated.
Hegarty then cut to seven pieces of work from BBH that explained BBH’s digital philosophy.
The first was the Levi’s ‘Flat Eric’ TVC featured above. “We had created something odd, and wanted to seed the idea on the Internet, so people would get used to the new Levi’s hero. It became an internet phenomenon,” he said.
The second piece of work was for the launch of the Xbox in Europe.
To the cheers of the audience, Hegarty said, “The client was absolutely against it. We told him we’d make it a viral, and if it gets handed around, we’ll take it into broadcast. It got 15 million hits around the world.”
Next was this ad for Barclay’s credit card.
“It was very obvious that it was a very long ad. But more importantly it was entertaining, and that’s something that’s fundamentally important and the client must be reminded of,” he said.
Fourth was the ad for Barnardo’s.
“It was the most complained about ad on British television, but the authorities decided it should keep running. And it started as a web banner,” he recalled.
Hegarty introduced the next ad with the words, “There is no such thing as a brief without potential.” The audience was hooting even before it started to play, when they realised what it was.
He said, “In this case the client asked us to make a corporate video for journalists and other people who came to their office. The creative guys thought they could do something wonderful by which they could explain the corporate culture within the brand values of ‘Keep Walking’.”
Sixth was this American ad for Axe.
“Do something amazing and daring and something that’ll cut through and get the kind of response you want,” encouraged Hegarty.
Last up was this ad for Yeo Valley. One of their communication objectives was to get people to pronounce the name right.
“We played it in the first break of X Factor. For 14 hours, it out-tweeted the show,” said Hegarty. “So do something we believe in at BBH – be bold in one media, it’ll be picked up in something else.”