Without the normal process, two students produce an inspiring Johnnie Walker ad

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

johnnie-walker-dear-brother-hed-2015Not only was the work free, but it was free of the traditional Advertising process that is now broken. 

While this ad is very inspiring, it should frighten or frustrate some of you. I hope it makes you say “why can’t we make ads like that?” What is your answer?

As people watch it, clients will be thinking “see what happens if I didn’t have an agency in the way” and agencies will be thinking “see what happens if I didn’t have a client in the way”. The real challenge should make you think “how can we get that type of work?”.

Or the bigger question: “what is wrong?”  

The ad agency world appears nearly broken. We see the world’s biggest agencies re-structuring and re-shuffling of the deck chairs. We see traditional agencies buying boutique agencies trying to gain their expertise and then failing again when they don’t listen to the people from the agency they bought. We see clients bringing creative development in-house. We see clients putting their business up for bid. Agencies show up with the best of the best, smiles on their face, win the business and we never see those people again. Then 6 months later, they still can’t deliver great work.

This ad was made by two film students. No Agency. No client. 

This spot lacked the process of constant re-writing of the creative brief, there was no endless series of creative presentations, no emails summarizing the feedback from 11 client representatives, no backroom deals between senior executives, no big quote for a big production, no focus groups or quantitative testing and no internal approvals where everyone provides their unique input.

So ask yourself one question: What is wrong with our current way of getting advertising?

Agency Model is broken for clients. Agencies need to make the brand leaders life easier, by being smarter, faster, more responsive to consumers and cost effective.

  • Disjointed work: Nothing lines up behind a big idea. Confusing. Brand Leaders used to have one “go to” agency that did everything. Now the Brand Manager has to bring agencies together, normally stressful and unsuccessful.

  • Client frustration: Agency too slow, expensive, unresponsive. Traditional agencies remain slow, expensive and political. Media world has changed and agencies must change with the changing media world.

  • Bad Execution: Lack of expert skill leads to poor marketing. Brand Leader have lost the art of being a generalist that doesn’t do anything. They have been put front and center, forced to begin making program choices, creative executional moves and media decisions.

Here’s my message for agencies:

  1. Your client needs help!!! Clients need help building every part of the marketing plan around a big idea, no matter the medium. Make them feel smarter at every stage. Don’t let your client ever feel dumb.
  2. Focus your client.  Clients need help focusing their resources on one target and focusing one message, with the right strategy for where the brand sits to tighten the bond. Don’t ask for strategic room or tear apart the brief and make various creative options when really you are making new strategic options. Help focus the brief. 
  3. Inspire your client and make them part of your team. Clients need help to bring out their passion providing better execution, with great work that is faster, more consumer responsive and cost-effective to deliver a return on investment. Don’t make your client feel like an outsider.

Here’s my message for clients:

  1. Focus focus focus!!! The smaller the strategy, the better the work. How tight is your Brief? Do you narrow the Target and add engaging insights? Do you focus on the desired consumer response before deciding what your brand should say? Do you focus on One Benefit and One Message?  Creative options are fine. Strategic options means you’re not doing your job.
  2. Be a creative leader. Meet the creative team before the first creative meeting to connect, align them with your vision and inspire them to push for great work. At creative meetings, stay big picture, avoid getting into details? When giving direction, avoid giving your own solutions and but rather try to create a “new box” for the creative team to figure out the solutions.
  3. Knock down all the resistors to great work. Challenge yourself to take creative risks, and are you willing to be different to stand out. Manage your boss at every stag by selling them on the vision what you want. Be willing to fight for great work.
  4. Have  you ever thought about being one of your Agency’s favorite clients   Do they “want to” or do they “have to” work on your business? Would this make you get better work?

BBI ads for 2015.011


Below is a presentation of a workshop training that we run for clients on how to get better advertising:


We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911


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