The big idea

Arnold brought a new meaning to “go big or go home” for their client, Carnival Cruise lines. Their concept was to create the world’s largest _____ (fill in the blank with a fun object). Arnold broke two world records: Largest Beach Ball, and Largest Pinata. This was a smart concept for multiple reasons. First, Carnival wants to own the word fun, and beyond that, exotic/vacation fun. Pinatas and Beach Balls are undoubtedly objects that would remind people of Mexico and beach vacations. Secondly, Arnold can get a lot out of this idea. Carnival gets PR impressions, footage for a commercial and semi-permanent exposure. Magazines ads live for a few weeks or months, TV for the length of the campaign, newspaper for a day, and world records for… until someone else breaks it. This non-traditional campaign was definitely unexpected and attention-grabbing.

Commercials were created to go along with the records, and I’d say they were produced well. People know they are for Carnival because of the same production characteristics – like the background music, the ending, and the same type of slow-motion excitement. I think this campaign was good work, and I’d say it works.


Advertising isn’t everything

Advertising. Although I love it, I know that it can’t work magic.

Let’s take a look at Arnold’s campaign for Amtrak:

When this campaign was created, Amtrak struggled with ridership. In 2003, Amtrak had 98% name awarness, but only 6% of adults rode Amtrak per year. Arnold found the key insight that people forget about the journey and only focus on the destination. After all, that’s one key benefit of taking the train. You don’t need to focus on driving and can see the sights, and there actually is a view (unlike planes).

I will use one of my friends to show that this insight works. A friend of mine was moving from Milwaukee to Seattle, and to get there, he chose Amtrak. Amongst other reasons, he chose the train because he could enjoy the scenery along the way. He was excited for the journey.

The ads in this campaign fit the insight perfectly. Each ad displays a different landscape, but because of the use of illustration, the scene is not tied down to one specific spot. It could be anywhere. This leaves room for imagination and for each person to think of their own journey.

While this advertising increased ridership over the span of 6 years, Amtrak still has a long way to go. For success, the product or service must follow up with the promise in the ads. How can someone enjoy the journey if the overall experience is bad? For example, my friend who moved to Seattle was stuck on the train an extra 24 hours because of a miscommunication that a track was closed. My one experience with Amtrak landed me 10 hours on the train with poor service, only to end up back home and out some money. As I mentioned Amtrak to my friends, conversation erupted about countless times that the train was late.

The idea of enjoying the journey is great, but the Amtrak needs to follow through with promises to truly build the brand. Otherwise, people will simply believe “you’re better off driving.”

I’d get hooked

Let’s talk Non-traditional. Looking at Arnold’s archive of work, I found an interactive aquarium for Carnival Cruise Ships.

Here’s the deal: Digital aquariums are posted outside in six large cities. Due to mobile technology, pedestrians can call a number, make funny noises to create a fish (each noise creates a different type of fish), and then control the fish with your phone’s key pad. Fish also have some life and react to the movement of pedestrians.

I love this idea. I know that if I was downtown with some of my friends, we would stop to play. It allows people to interact with the brand and equate Carnival with Fun. Not only that, but the connection between a cruse ship and tropical fish is obvious and makes sense. Even if consumers don’t actually participate, the aquariums make an impression because they’re sure to be noticed.

Not only were these aquariums posted outdoors, but Arnold integrated the campaign by creating one online. Therefore, not only was Carnival reaching pedestrians in the select cities, but they could reach everyone with internet access.

I’m a fan. I wish I knew when these aquariums were up! I would have been hooked.

Label Stories

Jack Daniel’s Label Stories: I love these ads. Perfectly executed. The voice used, the colors (or lack thereof), and the general graphical feel are perfect for Jack Daniel’s. And the creative is genius.

The Jack Daniel’s label is iconic. Everyone knows the label, but do they know what it means? Arnold’s Label Stories bring the label to life in a way that adds value.

Every detail of these ads were well thought out (Apparently just like the Jack Daniel’s Label). Every ad starts with the label, and ends with the bottle, coming full circle. The ads are completely in black and white like the label, and the swirls from the bottle are incorporated into the ads. The voice is of a man that you can imagine being very tough, rugged and knowledgable, going well with the Jack Daniel’s brand.

I’m not a whiskey drinker, but these ads still drew me in. I wanted to know more and learn more about the label. That’s powerful, and it’s amazing how much a few short commercials can impact your appreciation for a brand. Good job, Arnold. You’ve done it again.

One Slingshot Away

I found my first advertisement from Arnold that I’m disappointed in. For the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Arnold created these billboards:

Before I begin the negative criticism, let me highlight something I like. Arnold was targeting Florida residents. They state “Most Americans know The Bahamas are beautiful. What they don’t know is just how close they are.” Florida residents overlook the fact that the Bahamas are only 50 miles from Miami. It’s a powerful fact that Arnold was smart to capitalize on.

Now for the areas of improvement: The headline. First, the headline does not stick out and grab my attention. It’s a stereotypical tourism headline. Even Arnold called it a “standard message.” Secondly, the headline doesn’t go with the concept. Proximity is what Arnold tried to highlight, but “It’s Better In The Bahamas” doesn’t fit at all. Instead, another standard message  of “Just 50 miles away” is thrown into the subhead in an attempt to connect to their “one thing.”

The visual of the crystal clear water matches the headline, but once again, it’s a stereotypical image and has nothing to do with the concept of proximity.

What was the result of this work? Nothing. This billboard had little effect, so what did Arnold do? Add sculptures.

I think the sculptures were smart, if only the billboard was better. The sculptures feature people slingshotting or catapulting themselves to the Bahamas – a means of transportation that could only get you a short distance (Maybe 50 Miles). The sculptures are eye-catching and fit with the proximity concept, but they were only a band-aid to cover up a failing billboard. Still, the headline and visual do not match the proximity concept, but the sculptures do. It’s not cohesive and leads to confusion. Until I read Arnold’s explanation on their website, I had no idea what the sculptures were doing and why they were there.

Arnold missed some really good copywriting opportunities, but they went the wrong route. What did we learn from this? A good creative brief is important, and sticking to the “one thing” is critical.

“We should think about this, I think”

Want to some wonderfully executed “slice of life” ads? Click here Now, let’s think about them.

To promote Titleist’s new NXT golf balls, Arnold decided to shy away from the typical professional golfer vignette ads and use the image of typical consumers. Why did Arnold go this direction, and why are the ads effective? I would say it’s the realism.

The actors and the dialogue are believable.  The competition between the two characters is entertaining and will likely connect with consumers. The production also adds to the commercial. It’s shot with the hand-held camera style, similar the to TV show “The Office,” so you can truly imagine that this is simply a part of the characters’ everyday golf life.

While all of that is important, Arnold impressed me in a different way. Arnold’s greatest accomplishment with these commercials is that they manage to include the product features without losing their audience. Bravo, Arnold. This is one part where many commercials fail, but you pulled it off.

“Art & Copy” Review

I was hesitant. I didn’t think the documentary “Art & Copy” would be my thing, but I was proven wrong. I was captivated for an hour and a half by the opinions and stories of some of the greatest people in advertising.

The film reminded me of the amazing size of advertising. By size, I don’t mean sheer numbers in dollars spent, but just how much of an impact it has on the world. One of the first parts of the film that caught my interest was when a billboard poster was interviewed. The success of the advertising industry affects more than just the agencies and clients, but also people who produce the ads, put the ads out and even people who work with satellites since advertising has such an impact on TV.

Advertising also has a huge impact on consumers’ daily lives. It’s about sharing a message and connecting with people in a way that influences perceptions, opinions and beliefs. It can change the way people think and act. For example, brands are abstract and intangible, but can have such a strong emotional connection that people want to assign that brand to their own identity. Another example of strong advertising is with Nike. The short phrase “Just Do It” motivated people beyond athletics, but to quit holding back or procrastinating in their daily lives. The power of advertising is exactly why I got into the industry, but such powerful advertising does not come easy. “Art & Copy” made it clear that advertising is a difficult industry. The people in advertising have to be resilient and fearless. As Jeff Goodby said, “you have be able to talk to people that are not like you, and convince them to do things that are not like them.” That’s no small feat, and not a lot of people do it right. One of the hardest parts is that you don’t know where your ideas are going to come from, and you can never really know the results that your ideas will have.

Art & Copy gave me a few more perspectives that I found interesting. One of my favorite quotes from the film was when Rich Silverstein said “We’re trying to entertain society using clients’ products.” There is a lot of clutter out there, but the good advertising is the kind that people want to see. A few decades ago, advertising was entertainment, and people enjoyed it. Today, most consumers believe advertising is a nascence. If we entertain people and sell to them in a way they enjoy, they’ll pay closer attention.

Also, advertising is an art form. Since advertising can be a work of art, I was surprised to hear that art directors and copywriters did not always interact. As a result of integration, some amazing campaigns (like the VW Beetle campaign) emerged. I know that integration across departments of ad agencies is a hot topic today. The integration of art directors and copywriters gave birth to some amazing advertising, so the thought of making advertising a more collaborative effort excites me about future advertising.

Finally, my favorite theme of the movie is that Advertising is about truth. It’s about finding the truth in whatever you’re trying to sell, like the woman who “created the me generation” really just identified it, or the “got milk” campaign found truth in the fact that people don’t want to be without milk. It’s about finding the insight that connect with people, and that’s a challenge I’m looking forward to meeting.

Overall, “Art & Copy” is a good documentary with good themes and perspectives. It’s perfect for anyone in the industry. Watch it.