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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Canucks, Clios & Clients

Canucks, Clios & Clients

Posted on July 31, 2004 and read 5,477 times

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Back in late September, I was one of the many in attendance at Grip Limited’s end-of-summer party. While there, I was chatting with one of Canada’s most awarded copywriters. We got around to talking about ihaveanidea and the Clio screening they were soon to be hosting. The writer jokingly asked “who the hell is going to wanna pay a hundred bucks to hear Dan Pawych speak?”

Apparently quite a few people, it seems.

Fast forward to October 14th, at the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto’s Little Italy district. After months of planning, the ihaveanidea 2004 Clio Awards screening was about to begin. For those who didn’t know about the event, it was Ignacio Oreamuno’s idea to make this night a little different from the typical awards show screenings that go on in the ad business. Sure, the night would be have the usual creatives in the audience, oohing and ahhing over award winning spots they wished their clients would let them do. For this event however, Ignacio made one request to the dozens of agencies planning on attending. He asked the ad people to bring their clients along for the ride. And so, agencies and clients alike filled the Mod Club for an evening of great advertising.

But why bring the clients? As the lights dimmed over the audience, Ignacio stepped to the podium and explained his reasons for inviting both sides of the business together that evening. “The advertising industry I want to work in doesn’t exist right now,” he began. “Agencies are seen as suppliers not partners. It was important to bring the people who ultimately pay for the entries to the award shows to come and not just watch award winning ads, but to hear objective arguments from both sides of the table on what great advertising means.”

To help drive that idea home, ihaveanidea assembled a group of speakers from both agency and client sides to demonstrate the importance of forming the kind of relationship that fosters award winning creative work. The presenters for the evening included Mike Welling, consultant and former VP, Unilever; Dan Pawych, Creative Director, Downtown Partners; and Rick Seifeddine, VP Corp & Marketing Communications, Telus Mobility. Unfortunately, Bob Scarpelli, Chairman &Chief Creative Officer, DDB Chicago, was unable to attend, but he sent a most notable replacement: Mark Gross, VP, Group Creative Director, Chicago DDB, and the CD behind the popular (and heavily awarded) “Real Men of Genius” spots for Anheuser-Busch.

As the capacity audience listened attentively, each speaker discussed not only the importance of entertaining, relevant creative, but also how agencies and clients can form the relationships that allow creativity to flourish. Using Telus Mobility’s longstanding relationship with its AOR Taxi as an example, Seifeddine stated how traditional agency/client models, with multiple layers of decision making and approvals, need to change to allow those directly involved to make brilliant, effective advertising. There was a smattering of applause when Seifeddine stated that Telus didn’t rely on exhaustive focus groups to tell them how effective their campaigns would be.

Welling, straight off his run on The Bold and the Beautiful (you had to be there) referred to the well known Gunn Report, informing his fellow marketers that 85% of the most awarded campaigns met or exceeded sales expectations. He also stated that no matter how friendly and chummy clients and their agencies become, their relationship is first and foremost a business partnership, and decisions should be made in the best interests of both parties.

Pawych, a guy with more than a few trophies on the mantle, talked about successful and award winning advertising (not necessarily the same thing.) He mentioned that award shows are not the perfect measure of creativity, and gave examples of how ads in one arena may be considered incredible, and in other arenas fall flat. For instance, Lowe Roche’s “Raymond” spot for Mercedes-Benz won a pile of awards in Canada, including Best of Show at the Bessies, but made zero impact on the international scene. He also touched on a pair of campaigns often debated by the Canadian’s in ihaveanidea’s forum: the silhouetted dancers in Taxi’s ads for the radio station FLOW 93.5 and the award winning campaign from TBWA for the Apple iPod. After being shown the almost identical print and TV for these campaigns in a side-by-side comparison, and as a Torontonian knowing the FLOW ads came out at least a year before the iPod ones, I felt a little down. Great minds think alike, but they don’t always give awards alike.

Gross talked about the ever-increasing need for clients to take risks in order to capture the attention of an audience who is more selective with what they watch. “I believe we’re coming to a time when clients will have little choice but to go with more arresting, entertaining, relevant advertising,” says Gross. He cites statistics claiming many targets are spending as much time surfing the Internet as they do watching television. When they do watch TV, consumers are skipping past all but the most attention getting ads with devices such as TiVo. “The new technologies will force clients to want more creative work, and for agencies to produce more creative work.”

Each presentation was separated by sections of the 2004 Clios reel. We were treated to some of the best advertising the world has to offer. Admittedly, we in the advertising community have seen many of the ads before. Hell, a few of them we saw earlier in the evening as part of a speaker’s presentation. Nevertheless, wonderful advertising takes a very long time to get boring. Even the Grand Clio, Wieden + Kennedy London’s incredible “Cog” spot for the Honda Accord, which is over a year old, still drew its share of applause.

One ad that stood out in my mind (and in the minds of many I spoke to) was a spot by BETC Euro RSCG, Paris for Evian. Entitled “Waterboy”, the ad was… well, just that. An animated figure made of water marching from left to right, freezing, condensing, melting, reproducing, urinating out fires etc. all to a cover of “We Will Rock You.” Pretty impressive stuff and I still see the ad replaying in my head today.

So after all the incredible work, after all the presentations showing everybody that award winning advertising starts with strong client/agency relationships, after the smoke cleared, was this a successful evening? Did Ignacio accomplish what he set out to do? He seems to think so. “We took over 200 of our country’s top marketing directors, creative directors and heads of production companies and put them under one roof to talk about a very simple thing: great advertising. Before this point, these three groups had their own personal definition of what great advertising means, whether it’s awards, sales effectiveness or production value. After tonight we’ve begun to establish a new level understanding, in terms of what we are all doing as an industry.”

After the show, many people stuck around, mingling at the open bar and sharing what they thought of the event. One of them was my copywriter friend from the Grip party, the guy who wasn’t expecting this big of a turnout. I reminded him of what he said, he laughed and admitted it was a great event and that he had a wonderful time…especially listening to Pawych speak.

Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer




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