Saturday, June 21, 2008

yesterday today and tomorrow

One of the highlights of Cannes for me has to the presentation by Crispin Porter + Bogusky on "all that really matters is the power of the story. " If you are focussed on anything else - you are wasting your time and resources". Today, this agency is considered the hottest agency to work for in the US. Known for their ground breaking work on Burger King (creators of the subservient chicken), the agency's Chief Strategist Chuck Porter took the stage at Cannes and invited Ajaz Ahmed founder and chairman of AKQA and the legendary Joe Pytka to share the platform. And what a great idea combining the talents of the today – Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the leaders of tomorrow - upcoming digital award winning agency AKQA and a creative doyen of yesterday Joe Pytka.

Chuck Porter set the scene:
So you have heard all week how the world is changing because of technology and how you are all so screwed! The fact is media has been fragmenting for years and all that technology is doing is giving the audience more tools to ignore you. Interrupting them is not going to work anymore, but the good news is that technology is enabling your audience to fall in love with you more rapidly and deeper than ever before. Today’s environment favours story tellers and the power of a story is more important than before. This is not new. Plato said “There’s no learning without emotion”. Today in any new technology environment a great story is the killer application.

He spelt out his agency's holy grail for creating great communications and showed examples which exemplified this thinking:

Surprise endings make for great stories! Ikea's Lamp commercial and Burger King’s sweet and sour burger subservient chicken commercial series

Involve people in a great story - Molson beer press advertising campaign. This was a controversial campaign to show, because the agency lost the account shortly after to Draft FCB US

Where ordinary people become heroes - Burger king's Texas double whopper

Shock value makes a good story - advertising Jetta's safety features. The commercial had to be flighted after 20h30 in the evening due to its shock value.

Practical jokes make good stories - Coke Zero's commercials ( and Burger King's Whopper (

AKQA's Ajaz Ahmed affirmed these statements staying digital is all about the idea not technology. It’s about content and saliency. He shared the latest digital communication from Mcdonalds; Mcdonalds Adventure where fans are asked to help solve the mystery of

Finally, the man with the long white hair, the larger than life Joe Pytka reminded us that No focus group has ever told a good story. He recounted the Madonna Pepsi ad which costs ten million dollars and only flighted once in the US. It was withdrawn because of an uproar from churches – confused with Madonna’s video playing at the same time where crosses were burned. However went on to play in Italy (the heart of the Vatican) and other countries unhinded. It was the first time a celebrity touched the bottle. The publicity around the banning of the ad in the US more than made up for the original production costs. Today that campaign would have become viral, because it was a great storyboard and of course it had Madonna in it too! We remembered Nike's Michael Jordan air commercial with Bugs Bunny which was so popular, a movie was launched off the back of it. Space Jam which generated seven billion dollars in revenue. Budweiser's horse + dog commercial which told the tale of the power to achieve anything; the NFL superhero ads where players got to tell their stories and the classic Barber and James. Story telling is a gift. not learned. These blockbusters were all pre Internet, but as Joe Pytka said, today they would in all likelihood make great campaigns and thrive in the digital world because fundamentally it's the art of story telling that wins the hearts and minds of the audience.

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