Category Archives: Creative Thinking

What is this fuckery called retargeting?… Is it effective?

Remember when you were in the market for a fresh pair of kicks or a new top to impress that not so special someone on your recently memorable for all the wrong reasons tinder date? You jumped onto ASOS and when overwhelmed with the choices thought “Fuck it I’ll look later.”. No? Well, facebook sure seems to think you did. Next thing you know your sitting in class, at work, on the train and you stumble your way online only to see banner ads from ASOS for the exact category you were perusing. Creepy. But hey no harm no foul you shrug it off right? And that weekend you’re out shopping with friends and low and behold find that perfect pair of shoes, tie, whatever, no need to keep looking but that’s not what Facebook thinks…next thing you know all you see for the next few weeks are ads for shoes over and over again to the point of irrational anger. Or is it rational?

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This is just one example of how technology is influencing advertisement and is more commonly known as ‘Adtech’. The example above highlights one of the most notorious forms of Adtech called retargeting where it roughly works like this; a website uses cookie-based technology that uses javascript code to follow those who visit the page around the rest of the web. This is done so anonymously and is done so in a way that the ad will only target those who have visited the said website. The purpose of this, of course, is so that even though Bob didn’t make it all the way to the ‘check out’, maybe he got distracted or something came up, brands and websites can subtly remind Bob about the new ultra shiny garden hose reel and other similar categorical items and hey, maybe Bob will complete the purchase at a later time and think fondly about that website.

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But is this ethical? Is Bob only buying that hose reel because he kept seeing images of it everywhere he went and now only bought it based on one initial passing thought, turned action off of subliminal advertising? More and more consumers are becoming irritated and fed up with the constant feed of adverts in their lives opting for web browser extensions that block all ads and it even caused big companies like Apple to start building these types of ad blockers into their own web browsers which have then been used as part of a selling point of their products. Innovations in technology have brought about a lot of new and amazing streams in which the advertising industry can play with but is the industry just being lazy?

The term ‘brand engagement’ is thrown around a lot these days where big brands want consumers to ‘engage’ with them but tactics like retargeting has had the exact opposite effect where consumers are actively trying to disengage with brands and ads so they can have a moment of peace from the bombardment of products and services shoved down their eyeballs. If you rely heavily on retargeting your potential consumers for your products and or services are you even offering anything of worth? Perhaps its time to think more creatively and do something that has consumers wanting to engage with your website and or brand.

Take a video… it will last longer!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… well then what’s a video worth?

Last year I snapped a picture of a little girl I met in India called Angel. On paper, her story is all kinds of tough. After sleeping with someone outside her cast, Angel’s mum tried to drown her as a newborn. Although only three days old, Angel put up a fight and her little heart refused to stop beating. After her failed attempt to murder her newborn child, Angel’s mum gave Angel to a local rescue home and has never seen her since.

Whilst reading about my sweet Angel you feel for her, but its just text on a page, you will probably never think about her again. However, after seeing a picture of her sweet smile, you feel a deeper level of connection and more emotions are evoked as the story grows on you… a picture is worth a thousand words.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? Videos are powerful and enable the viewer to transcend space and time. Whilst it brings me so much joy to gaze at Angel’s sweet face in her picture, I feel like I am back with her when I see a simple video of her. I have a video of Angel in her school uniform jumping up and down on her bed laughing and calling out to me, ‘Ukka Ukka,” which means big sister. The picture of Angel tells me a thousand words, of who she is, what she is like and who she will become; however, the video transports me back in time. Back to my Angel.

I can hear her voice and her laughter, I can see the excitement on her face and I can feel the love I felt for her right in that moment. The video is what I treasure. After months of not seeing Angel, her contagious laugh, which was once so loud in my ears slowly, softens, the memories of hours of jumping on the bed fade and hearing my name called over and over becomes a distant memory. Despite the time apart, it only takes one play of the video to make me feel like I am back with her. Maybe a video has the ability to make us feel those thousands of words in a picture.

Text can tell a powerful story, a picture is worth a thousand words but a video has the ability to transport us through time. Videos engage our minds like nothing else, they have the ability to unpack complex concepts quickly and evoke stronger emotions than any other medium. Videos have the ability to transport us through time and space and quench our mind’s thirst for information and interaction. Since video appeals to both sight and sound, it has the ability bring back our memories, beautiful memories of our journeys, memories like my Angel.

The Power of Art Direction

A picture is worth 1,000 words

As an art director, you’re in charge of the imagery and layout of an ad all together. You need to make sure that the message you want the audience to receive is portrayed correctly. A well-known fact related to advertising is the “6 second impact”, where you only have 6 seconds of attention from the audience while they’re going through their day. This relates especially to outdoor advertising. If a person is walking down a street and walks by a bus shelter with an ad on it, you only have 6 seconds of their attention. Therefore, you shouldn’t have lots of copy on it that the audience won’t have time to read in such a short amount of time. That’s where the saying “6 words, 6 seconds” comes from, or even better: no words at all.

The phrase “a picture is worth 1,000 words” is developed from an even older saying which is “one look is worth a thousand words.” It appeared in a 1913 newspaper advertisement for the Piqua Auto Supply House of Piqua, Ohio, but ironically uses only words, not images, to invite prospective customers to see its products in their store. The point of it being how instead of explaining all its features and printing photos of every angle, one look at it with your own eyes will say it all. I think both phrases are nice references to how we only have the audience’s attention for a short amount of time, and how that time can be well spent with viewing instead of reading.

Take these great Lego ads for example. All it needs is an image with a strong impact and the product’s logo. Never underestimate your audience’s ability to figuring things out on their own. They don’t need a few sentences explaining the joke. They could have had a clever tagline under the imagery saying something about how great children’s imagination is, but they chose not to, and it made the ad so much better. Without any words to read, you reach out to so many more people as we all have got the time to simply look at the image. It also helps that the logo is well recognizable. The ad also possesses bright, playful colors to catch their attention even more. The art director or creative person behind these posters is a genius in my eyes, I wish I had come up with this idea myself.

This ad for Scotch tape is another image dominant ad that I find very clever. It is so self-explanatory and it also consists of only an image and the logo for the product. There is also Scotch’s slogan underneath their logo which they don’t even needed to ad for us to understand their message.

A picture really is worth more than a thousand words in the advertising industry, and image dominant advertising creates the cleverest ideas and are easily remembered. Here are some more examples to prove my point:

By Charlotte Leite Hansen (Bachelor of Digital Media student)

David Droga’s Emotional Rallying Cry to the Ad Industry at Cannes Lions Centres on Caring

“There goes my facade of being a rock.”

David Droga choked up several times during a heartfelt and surprisingly emotional speech at Cannes Lions last month—in the end, it was one of the highlights of the festival—as he accepted the Lion of St. Mark award for creative excellence across his storied career.

The Droga5 founder used the moment to look back at his brilliant career so far and to thank the people who’ve helped make it happen—a long list of work colleagues, of course, but also, most prominently, his mother and his wife.

He also had words for the advertising industry, which he initially cast as advice for his four children in attendance—about the single most important thing, in his view, that helps make a person, and a career, successful.

“Wanting something—wanting a career, or wanting to make something—doesn’t really mean much. It’s about finding something you care about. Because caring is the only thing that really matters,” he said.

Caring leads to everything else, Droga suggested.

“I would put down everything in my career to the fact that I cared—about what I do, who I work with, what I make,” he said. “Caring makes you want to work harder. People can’t pay you to care. People can’t teach you to care. But when you find something that you care about, you give it everything you’ve got. You never settle. And you are always pushing to learn and be better and support those around you. All I’ve tried to do in my career is care.”

He added: “That’s all we need to do. More agencies need to give a shit, work hard and try to make beautiful and impactful things.”

See the full speech video on YouTube.

3 great ads I had nothing to do with!

In the tradition of the popular Thinkbox series of shorts that explore some of the greatest TV advertisements in the company of leading Creatives ‘who know a thing or two about making them’, I’ve decided to put forward my own three choices of great advertisements that I had nothing to do with. Now, I’m no Chief Creative Officer of a huge agency, but I feel like I still know a good ad from a bad one. So here goes.

In the age of digital television recorders, advertisement skipping, product placement, overlay ads, Google and pretty much the internet in general, making a TVC stand out above the rest has become tough. Attention spans have shortened, and the point now is to make a TVC that instantly grabs attention and is genuinely engaging. I’ve selected three TVCs that have recently inspired me in my journey through studying advertising; brilliant commercials, old and new, that I admire. (Oh and by the way, if you’ve never heard of it, check out advert.ge on Facebook – absolutely brilliant page constantly posting great TVC’s from around the globe.)

Ad #1: It’s now or never.

As the rest of the world runs for their lives and civilization crumbles around them, the bar-goers enjoy their last moments together and make the most of theirs. The bartender pours shots of Cuervo, a man plays Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never” on the jukebox and couples tango while destruction around them ensues, because as for these brave souls; ‘tomorrow is overrated’.

The coolness factor is stratospheric here. CP+B’s campaign, directed by Ringan Ledwidge, features stunning visuals and uses an end-of-days scenario in charming fashion as a metaphor for living in the moment. The Elvis ballad, which was the second best-selling single of his career, is conceptually perfect and cuts right through the mayhem. The end tagline, “Tomorrow Is Overrated,” is a fun way to highlight tequila’s reputation as a liquor that can lead to unparalleled nights of abandon – and a way to emphasize the primacy of now in times of uncertainty.

Ad #2: Only time.

Who would have thought that more than 85 million people would watch the Muscles from Brussels doing his signature split with two Volvo trucks moving in reverse on a highway, backed by Enya’s “Only Time”? Volvo knew.

Directed by Andreas Nilsson, Volvo filmed the short on a runway in Spain in one take after three days of rehearsals. The short was, at the time, the latest in a series of videos Volvo used to promote how easy it was, and is, to steer its new high-tech big rigs – others have featured a woman walking a tightrope between to moving trucks heading toward a tunnel and a hamster steering one up the edge of a cliff.

The series, and the Jean-Claude Van Damme video in particular, are an insanely clever way to get attention to a type of vehicle most consumers usually don’t care or even think about while proving to other brands that they can use short clips to generate a Super Bowl-sized audience for little money when upping the creativity level of their campaigns.

Ad #3: Satisfaction.

While they sleep, a man’s tongue crawls completely out of his mouth and embarks on a journey to a house party down the road, bringing back home a cold Tooheys Extra Dry.

Yes, another alcohol ad. But prove to me that this isn’t one of the greatest Australian ads ever. I distinctively remember always rushing to the TV whenever I could hear Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” playing. “The tongue beer ad is on!”, I would say. I was 12.

This Tooheys TVC, created by BMF in Sydney, drew dozens of complaints but ranks as one of the best television commercials in the world. The Advertising Standards Board rejected a deluge of complaints about the ad, while Tooheys claims it reinvigorated Australian beer advertising. The advertisement is deliberately distinctive to reflect the diverse and growing consumer appetite for the brand, with a particular focus on younger consumers. At the core of the ad, the tongue is a simple yet strategic device to highlight the importance of taste.

The overall theme of my three advertisements, it seems, is that they all effectively make use of one huge feature amongst the impact of the visuals; that of music. Each advertisement conveys a strong message, but through the added characteristic of music, and specifically popularised music, the ad becomes something else. It becomes engaging.

Rowan James Slade

It’s all about the Idea!

You could have the greatest production team, the best global agency, and an amazing client. But just remember this does not mean anything with a bad idea.

Let me give you an example of a simple idea that was a pure genius. Do you remember the power cut during the third quarter of Super Bowl 2013, which caused the lights to go out for 34 minutes? The sandwich cookies brand, Oreo was quick to think in this situation and posted on social media ‘‘Power out? No problem. You can always dunk in the dark’.

 It revealed a simple picture of an Oreo cookie in a dark room. You could argue how Oreo was a great success compared to the other brands that paid for a spot in the memorable, global game. However I disagree with this theory as great ideas also went into all of those other commercials even If they didn’t think of it in 10 minutes. For example the Budweiser commercial- brotherhood, it worked because of the idea behind it. It was a surprising advertisement away from the typical alcohol ad. It told a warm, hearing story between a man and his horse that were separated, yet three years later they were reunited. It engaged the audience from the start as we questioned what the advertisement was for as it had a cinematic feel to it.

According to SJ Insights the number of ads that adults are now exposed to across all five media (TV, radio, Internet, newspapers and magazines) is about 360 per day; of these, only 150-155 are even noted, and far fewer make a strong enough impact to be recalled, make an impression, and ultimately, make a sale. It is vital that there is a strong idea behind any campaign; if your ad is noticed out of those 360 per day then you are on your way to success. One campaign that has stood our for me this week as my bus goes past it everyday is a campaign that was advertising Mardi Gras. It was the simplicity that made me love the outdoor advertisement. Instead of using a billboard outside Westfield in Bondi Junction they have simply made a mural to advertise Mardi Gras using a colourful set of wings, which, people can stand next to and take photos. This always grabs my attention, as the advertisement looks different every time I look at it with different people laughing and smiling, whilst taking photos with the wings. It is memorable as it made me feel happy. You could spend fortunes on a TV commercial or a print ad but if the idea is not relatable or doesn’t make your audience feel an emotion then it gets lost in the world of advertising.

Just remember the greatest ideas are the simplest.

Chloe Alexandra Geggus

Digital Design Goes “Hands On” with Positive Education

Macleay College is the only Australian Higher Education institution running a Positive Education program. As well as teaching our students industry based skills and practical theory, we also address their personal development and mental health through positive psychology.

This holistic approach in learning, is aimed at enriching the student’s wellbeing and emotional intelligence through tailored individual support and encouragement.

It gives the student a better understanding of themselves, their passions, their strengths and their goals. It helps them to better manage their life, relationships and  future careers through a greater understanding and use of empathy, gratitude and other positive emotions.

In a nutshell, the program aims to increase the student’s confidence, sense of wellbeing and happiness.

As part of the program, Macleay College has installed PosEd Kits in many of the classrooms across our Sydney and Melbourne campuses and students in the Digital Design Unit have been putting them to good use in Term One of the Advertising & Digital Media course.

One of our tasks was to take the free VIA Character Strength Test. This is a short ten minute assessment that takes students through a series of questions to determine their top character strengths. Armed with this list, the students are then asked to step away from their iMacs and use their hands to construct or draw visual representations of their favourite strengths.

The PosEd Kits are full of great stuff to get them started like Play Doh, feathers, buttons, coloured fabric, wood and paper. There are also ample large rolls of paper and Sharpies.

To begin with, the students had a lot of questions and curious looks. As they started to move around the room and choose their materials the noise levels increased and they were off and running.  There were lots of comparing notes on each other’s different strengths with most agreeing that the VIA Test had done a good job.

As I moved around the group, there were some initial awkwardness with speaking about their strengths but they were encouraged to start thinking beyond that and  how their personal brand could be visualised into an abstract object or pictorial form.

There was a sense of enjoy in the room so I popped on some music and spent the next hour watching their creations unfold. The next part of the workshop was to take their physical objects and turn them into a digital piece of artwork. The students could take photos, load them up into Illustrator and use this as a template to create a kind of personal logo.

This was the first time I’ve been involved in a workshop like this so there  is some tweaking I’d still like to do but it was one of the most enjoyable sessions I’ve run. It was  one of those days when you get home, put your feet up and smile!

Jason Gemenis is Macleay’s Digital Ninja
lecturing in Digital Design, Advanced
Digital Design and Visualisation across Macleay’s
Dip Advertising & Media, Dip Digital Media,
BA Advertising & Media & BA Digital Media.