If you’re a sentient human being over the age of ten, you remember the “Mac Versus PC” campaign. The idea is simplicity itself: PCs are fussy and nerdy, difficult to use and needlessly complicated, as embodied here in America by John Hodgman. (In Britain, the great comedy team of David Mitchell and Robert Webb played PC and Mac, respectively.) Macs, as embodied by Justin Long, are simple and cool. Two men, white set, minimal propping. A super low-tech approach to a high-tech product.
Now, that is bold advertising for a bold client. Those spots are so simple, yet so effective at communicating, in a powerful, emotional way, the differences between Macs and PCs.
Not coincidentally, every other client I talked with for a couple of years wanted to rip off those spots.
I mean, they wouldn’t cost much, right? All you need is a couple of actors and a white cyc, and you’re in business. Right?
Right. In the business of creating a lame rip-off.
It’s amazing how often clients want to do something cool once someone else has made it cool. It’s amazing how often clients want to do provocative creative work once it’s not really provocative anymore.
It’s also amazing how many agencies are willing to produce those rip-offs.
The same thing happened back in the ’80s with Fallon McElligott’s wonderful “Perception/Reality” magazine ad campaign for Rolling Stone. All of a sudden, everyone wanted to copy it.
Because it works. Because it makes its point clearly and powerfully. And because the risk of doing something new and different has been eliminated.
ARE YOU A BOLD CLIENT? Take this quiz.
At Well Done, we talk about wanting to work for bold clients. And sometimes people ask me what that means. Here’s what that means:
Being a bold client means not doing work that blends in with everybody else’s (because that seems like a huge waste of money). Is that you?
It means not aping somebody else’s innovative campaign. Is that you?
It means not just recognizing, but demanding distinctive, provocative creative work that stands on its own. You?
It means being willing to take chances—with creative, with strategy, with media, with the whole idea of advertising. Eh?
It means not being so afraid the boss won’t like it that you won’t present it. It means trusting and challenging your agency to be great. Can you do those things?
Do you believe—honestly believe—that your product or service actually makes people’s lives better in some way?
Because lots of clients say they want to be great. But their actions speak louder.
Do you really want to be great? Do you really want to do something that will make people sit up and take notice? Take action? Are you willing be the one who takes the risk?
If so, you are a bold client. We’d love to talk about working for you.