When a repentant Cannes Advertising Festival awarded BMW Films a Titanium Lion a year after it was originally entered, something changed. The award shifted the center of gravity of the advertising industry from the creative department and put it into the hands of media visionaries.
Now it is easy to confuse the statement above and think that it is media planners who are calling the shots just now. Media is not about which channel, what time and the likes, but about the distribution (across an extremely fragmented world of touch points), relevance and timing of a marketing message, as it is about the creative idea and execution.
In the case of BMW Films, while the execution, idea and everything “typically creative” about the work was superlative, the fact that the idea put branded entertainment at the centre stage and gambled with the web as a no cost distribution model that makes any new piece of web enabled, long format film making a BMW Films clone.
Media as creative has spawned a new breed of advertising thinker, the communications or transmedia planner. His job is not to take the existing creative idea and find ways to put them out in as many places as possible. But to help the creative and the client find new expressions of the brand’s POV and spread these views.
One of the most interesting examples of media as creative thinking came from Adidas in the form of the Adicolor sneaker. Even the product was conceived to tell a story. The all white shoe originally released in 1983 was re-released in 2006 in a kit that included the original plain white shoes, paints, brushes and a wooden palette. The ensuing campaign was a masterpiece in new age storytelling. Simple interactive billboards that had a white sheet pasted it, inviting scrawlers and graffiti artists. A few days later a layer would be added to the board to reveal the shoe with custom created graffiti under each one of them. The idea was taken into film where film makers explored different colours, with little or no reference to the product and its benefits.
One of the problems with using a media idea as the creative itself is that once a brand uses a format successfully, it becomes very difficult for some other brand to use a similar format and do it well. While there are many examples of using YouTube as a TV channel to create a miniseries, LonelyGirl15 will always be the benchmark that will be difficult to beat.
At a time when consumer attention to advertising is flagging and technology is spawning new ideas there is a need for a bunch of thinkers who can understand the possibilities of science and the needs of brands to help create ideas that will solve marketing problems.