Kicking off our new series, Wish I’d Done That, which asks somebody from the advertising industry about campaigns they wish they had worked on or admire, Shane O’Brien, BBDO Dublin’s executive creative director writes about two campaigns that he wished he worked on.
Traditionally, creatives aren’t great at complimenting each other’s work. There’s always been a fine line between admiration and professional jealousy. A brilliant campaign could just as easily delight you as send you in a pit of despair. But either way, we’ve all said “I wish I made that” dozens of times throughout our careers.
There is a lot of other people’s work I wish I’d made over the years—and being honest, a few bits of my own I wish I hadn’t—so trying to narrow it down to just two pieces for this article was always going to be a challenge. Ask me to pick two campaigns I’d wish I’d made on a different day and I could give you a completely different answer.
The approach I settled on in the end was to choose something that amazed and inspired me at the beginning of my career, when I was still wide-eyed and optimistic. Then I chose something had the same effect 15 years later, now that I’m a cynical, jaded hack. They’re two wildly different pieces of work and probably serve to demonstrate just how much the industry has changed in the last decade.
In any case, either would sit proudly on page one of my portfolio.
Trumpet – Simplifying Summer
There’s an age-old contract in advertising: Entertain me and I will listen to your brand message. But if you fail to, or worse still bore me, I’m tuning out. The best campaigns are ones you want to watch over and over again, whose lines become part of the lexicon. This ad for Trumpet ice cream by Colenso BBDO in New Zealand is one of those campaigns.
It came out when I was in was still in college and I knew instantly that it was exactly the type of work I wanted to make. The script is based on a really simple but hilarious observation that is taken to the extreme. The casting is quirky but understated. The choice to keep the voiceover straight is inspired. It’s a great gag that became a perfect TV spot. Years later, I still go back to it regularly and it still feels as original, memorable and undeniably funny as it was back then.
Last year I ended up in a meeting with Levi Slavin , the creative responsible, and I was honestly a bit star struck. He has made dozens of internationally famous campaigns since and gone on to become one of the world’s most awarded creatives, but all I could think to myself was, “This guy wrote the undies ad.”
It’s one of my favourite campaigns. I wish I’d made it.
Burger King – The Stevenage Challenge
I love campaigns where the brand hacks the medium. Where the idea is so smart and compelling that it sustains itself, and works independently of media support. The audience take ownership of the idea and it becomes something much bigger that you could ever hope or plan for. The Stevenage Challenge is one of those brilliant ideas.
Burger King found a way for the world’s biggest footballers to endorse them without having to pay for it. They realised that if they sponsored a team in the English fourth division of English football, then their sponsorship of that team would appear in FIFA 20 too. And so they approached Stevenage FC, languishing in the fourth division, and slapped a big Burger King logo on their shirt.
Then the brand then launched the #StevenageChallenge, inviting gamers to play with Stevenage on FIFA and pick the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar to play for them. In exchange for rewards on the Burger King app, thousands of gamers began sharing user-generated content of these superstars scoring 30 yard screamers while wearing a big Burger King logo on their chest.
I’m not a gamer. I don’t even like football, so by rights this idea shouldn’t appeal to me at all. However, I love it. I love how clever it is. Whoever created it is an evil genius. Again, I wish I’d made it.
Shane O’Brien is executive creative director, BBDO Dublin