old tv commercials by Jarofflies


									The Abba-Zappa campaign started as a small idea which grew large to
encompass all media. This process was facilitated through a client-
agency relationship built on openness and a willingness to explore new

The Observer
Integrated Advertising, Silver Award

200 years of mischief                  have changed the face of Sunday
    The Observer is Britain’s oldest   journalism, according to the editor,
Sunday paper, founded in 1791 by       Roger Alton.
one WS Bourne. A string of                 First was Sport Monthly. Then
proprietors followed though it         came Food Monthly. And now, on the
wasn’t until David Astor acquired      third Sunday of each month, there is
the paper after World War II that it   Music Monthly.
was detached from any political            Edited by Caspar Llewllyn-Smith,
allegiance. In the 1970s it was        OMM has to appeal to a broad
owned by an oil company, Atlantic      church of tastes but,
Richfield, and then by “Tiny”          unquestionably, it is doing well, with
Rowland’s Lonrho. His savage fight     major features such as Nick Hornby
with Mohammed al Fayed for the         interviewing The Boss, Bruce                 How is it a brief for some         and, when one did pop up, was able
ownership of Harrods in 1993 led to    Springsteen, and Simon Napier-Bell       ambient ideas ends up four months      to recognise it and nurture it.
a For Sale sign being posted over      reliving his touring days with Wham!     later in a 60-second TV and cinema         By way of background the
the newspaper once again. It was       in China.                                commercial?                            Sunday broadsheet market was in
purchased by The Scott Trust.                                                       Because slowly and, at first       decline. The Observer bucked this
    With no shareholders to force an   A small task, a big idea                 uncertainly, a big idea emerged, an    trend as it was able to differentiate
issue, nor a press baron to impose         There’s a Big Bang theory about      idea that could, and did, run across   itself from its competitors with the
his views, The Observer is free to     creativity, which goes something         all media from 1 col. x 7cm teeny-     invention of Observer Sport Monthly
continue “making mischief and          like this: you do a lot of research,     weeny press ads to beermats,           in 2000. This was a new kind of
poking its nose where it shouldn’t”    you write a brief, you put some very     tubecards, posters and an online       supplement that appealed to
as it has been for over 200 years.     clever people in a room together,        game. There was even a whole fence     armchair jocks through the quality of
    The market for Sunday              you brainstorm, you argue and then       built at Glastonbury with the little   its writing and photography.
broadsheets is highly competitive.     suddenly, kaboom. An idea of             rockers.                               Importantly, it did not just
In 2000, The Observer was selling      brilliance and power explodes on the         There were any number of           underscore the paper’s sports
just over 400,000 copies each          room.                                    different stages at which the idea     credentials but it attracted new
week. Today, it sells over 440,000         Disproving the theory entirely is    could have died – but didn’t.          readers too. Observer Food Monthly
copies and has an audited              Mother’s campaign for The Observer       Because this is a story of a client    soon followed and circulation figures
readership of 1,282,000 (NRS).         Music Monthly magazine, “From            who genuinely wanted big ideas,        continued to nudge up to around
    Its special-interest supplements   Abba to Zappa.”                          pushed the agency for big ideas        420,000.
    “Then it became a case of what     but the chemistry felt right. These   “They were good. But not great.”       mistakes. Because the newspaper
next?” remembers Marc Sands,           were people he could work with.           For the record, though, “Rapper”   business is so fast-moving, though,
Marketing Director at The Guardian         Mother is distinguished as an     was accepted for entry in the Best     there is little time to dwell on what
and Observer. We researched            agency by having appeared to cut      Copy section of D&AD in 2002, the      went wrong because immediate
lifestyles, we looked at love and      out an entire department, one which   first time a TV commercial had been    needs are always pressing.
then thought about music. Music        other agencies cannot function        so recognised.                            They have a confidence often
appealed to a smaller audience, but    without: Account management.
they were hardcore, dedicated fans.    Instead, creative people are
Observer Music Monthly helped us       expected to work closely with their           The campaign has brought The Observer
reach these people. They               clients, taking and responding to
represented a completely new and       the briefs, presenting the work and
                                                                                     a new kind of reader – which has in turn
younger audience for us, and they      negotiating its development. There               brought new advertisers on board
brought with them completely new       are no intermediaries to get in the
advertisers as well.”                  way.
    Music Monthly was launched             Now around 100-strong, Mother     Free to make mistakes                  lacking in marketing departments.
with two TV commercials created by     is not only one of the most lauded        Sales went well, so it was         This is born of relationships with
ad agency Mother.                      agencies in the UK, with a D&AD       decided to approach an even wider      both the sales and editorial teams
    Founded in 1996 to help launch     Gold for Britart.com in 2001 and      audience. Karen Byrne, Marketing       that are based on mutual respect
Channel 5, Mother was invited to       Silvers for Emap’s QTV and            Manager, thought that ambient          and trust. One might imagine that
pitch for The Observer account by      Batchelor’s Super Noodles – it is     media might help stimulate both        all newspapers would be cultures in
Sands in 2002. He remembers that       also one of the most profitable.      awareness and trial and the agency     which ideas flourish but that isn’t
the work the agency showed that            Of the first TV ads. the agency   was duly briefed. The intention was    the case. There is often a stifling
day was not particularly impressive,   produced for OMM, Sands says,         for music lovers to come across        hierarchy that sees editorial look
                                                                             OMM on their way to and on their       down on marketing who look down
                                                                             way back from a gig.                   on sales.
                                                                                 It is a truism that big ideas          Perhaps The Observer and
                                                                             change everything. As the “Abba to     Guardian get consistently visible
                                                                             Zappa” campaign developed, so it       and effective advertising because
                                                                             changed the marketing team’s           they provide an environment in
                                                                             thinking – not just about Music        which the ideas are bought by the
                                                                             Monthly but how to advertise the       people best suited to evaluate
                                                                             other supplements.                     them?
                                                                                 “We realised we’d got it wrong         Perhaps the brand’s unique
                                                                             with our initial TV launch,” admits    values of intelligent liberalism
                                                                             Sands. “What we’d done was try to      appeal to and inspire those who
                                                                             identify an audience whereas with      work for it?
                                                                             ‘Abba to Zappa’ we were explaining         Or perhaps it is the leadership
                                                                             the product. Big difference and it’s   provided by Sands? Not all
                                                                             changed the way we communicate         Marketing Directors would have
                                                                             the other magazines.”                  given the Mini-Pops idea the green
                                                                                 It has become a cliché to talk     light. It relied on representing
                                                                             about failure as a precondition of     actual people, many of them stars
                                                                             success but at The Observer, both      with super-sized egos and PR
                                                                             Sands and Byrne cheerfully admit to    offices. In other words, the idea had
all the makings of a quagmire of       do well from us.”                       suggestions we were able to            Byrne was convinced it was a
litigation, what with issues of            Few clients are as open handed.     discuss and agree there and then.”     thought worth pursuing.
passing off and libel.                 Yet, in acknowledging so honestly                                                  Hers was the idea before the
     In that sense, the campaign       that the relationship is symbiotic      The idea before the idea               idea and if she hadn’t been as close
would have been easy to kill, though   and that the agency can, even must,         As it happens, a new agency        to the creatives as she was, if she
the idea itself was easy to buy.       have its own agenda, Sands              team had just been assigned to The     hadn’t been able to cajole them as
Sands, though, was determined it       ensures he gets the very best from      Observer, keen to approach the         she did, if her relationship with the
should live but took the precaution    it.                                     brand with a new perspective.          agency was more the traditional
of ensuring every suggestion the           Rather than a master/servant            “There had been a tendency to      client than the collaborator, then
agency put forward was reviewed by     relationship, all too common            respond to every brief with an ad      the team at Mother might never
the paper’s lawyers.                   between client and supplier, Sands      with a gag. We knew there was a        have ended up with the award-
     They were not sparing in their    has fostered a partnership in which     more distinctive tone of voice to be   winning campaign they did.
use of red ink.                        if one prospers, both prosper.          found. It was just a question of           The team assigned to the task
                                                                               finding it,” comments Creative         was Ben Middleton and Stuart
                                                                               Director Luke Williamson.              Outhwaite. Their very first thought
      The campaign helped circulation rise from                                    There wasn’t a written brief.      was a literal interpretation of Abba
      around 420,000 before the OMM’s launch                                   That’s not the way Mother operates.    to Zappa, more a press ad than
             to 441,943 In August 2005                                         Instead, there were discussions – at   anything, a faintly disturbing
                                                                               client end and back at the agency.     illustration of a face, the left half
                                                                                   The task was clear – to            belonging to Agnetha of Abba, the
    Agency folk are fond of saying         One of the essentials for           dramatise breadth. The breadth of      right to Frank Zappa.
clients get the work they deserve.     success in developing powerful          the paper itself and the breadth of        That was rapidly discarded by
Sands and Byrne, say the creatives     communications is trust. Mother         the magazine. The thought of an A      the young team as they looked for
at Mother, are good to work with       and The Observer have a strong          to Z of music had been buried          more engaging ways to make the
because they make quick decisions.     relationship in which there is plenty   somewhere in the voice-over of the     alphabet work for them.
They do not dither, which always       of room for disagreement and            launch commercials and Karen               They felt they were making
leads to compromise or “death by a     debate.
thousand cuts.” Nor do they defer          Mother’s way of working, with
judgement to focus groups. While       creative people actively involved in
they research the product in some      their clients’ businesses, rather
detail, they rarely test their         than locked away in ivory towers,
advertising. They prefer to trust      suited Byrne and Sands. It put them
their own understanding of the         closer to the creative process.
brand and rely on a mixture of gut-        ‘Abba to Zappa’ is a great
feel and experience when judging       example of the way we do things,”
ideas.                                 explains Yann Elliott, a Creative
    “We try to be straight,” says      Director at the agency. “It’s quite
Sands, “so we make decisions           possible that if the idea had been
quickly. But because we haven’t got    presented by an intermediary, an
much money, we also try to make        account man detached from the
sure our agencies can succeed          creative process, then it would have
against whichever criteria are         gone nowhere. Instead, we were
important to them. Revenue or          able to listen to the client’s
creative plaudits, we want them to     comments, which triggered off
progress when they began looking                                                                                          sheet posters to welcome him or
at the style of those early-learning                                                                                      her at the gig. Sample copies of the
primers and they began thinking of                                                                                        magazine would be handed out
a Janet and John approach to music,                                                                                       before the fan headed home, and
with a letter and the name of the                                                                                         hopefully catching the TV ad before
band underneath.                                                                                                          crashing out. On Sunday morning,
     Make it more visual, urged                                                                                           point-of-sale in the newsagent’s
Byrne, acting as a creative director                                                                                      would remind and enthuse them.
as much as a marketer. So the team                                                                                             The original intention had been
turned their attention to the very                                                                                        for the new print work to support the
graphic style of Derek Bruner. Now                                                                                        old TV commercials, ‘Rapper’ and
the thought was that thin strips of                                                                                       ‘Barber Shop’, but Byrne and Sands
the A to Z could be flyposted up over                                                                                     tore up plan A and instigated plan B,
existing flyers for gigs, The                                                                                             a completely new commercial. They
Observer showing that it too was a                                                                                        were prepared to invest more money
fan of music.                                                                                                             in its production than was normal,
     It was when the team started                                                                                         not because they recognised the ad
looking at the work of Craig                                                                                              would have more cut-through with
Robinson that Byrne began to feel                                                                                         more money behind it, but because
they were onto something.                                                                                                 it had unusual longevity and could
     Good creative teams spend                                                                                            be used over a period of years.
much of their time investigating                                                                                          Indeed, the ad has been re-cut
contemporary culture, looking for                                                                                         several times already to meet
sources of inspiration. Ben and          exactly right. It was contemporary       work in TV.                             tactical objectives.
Stuart had been browsing on the          and fun, but flexible enough as a            While no-one had set out to               The craft skills that went into
internet and remembered                  style to be able to portray at a         create an integrated idea, they knew    making the TV ad didn’t just warrant
flipflopflying.com, a website in which   glance personalities as different as     they had one on their hands. It         repeat viewing, they encouraged it.
Robinson had created a range of          Eminem and Michael Jackson.              allowed The Observer to be there        For instance, in just the two seconds
micro-characters with just a handful     Robinson’s little figures seemed to      with the music fan at every point of    given to him, Michael Jackson turns
of pixels.                               embody all those quirky, clever          his or her journey.                     white. In Q for Queen, Freddie
     Using these as inspiration, Ben     values that the newspaper stood              Before going out for the evening,   Mercury leers at the private parts of
began drawing himself, starting with     for, let alone Music Monthly.            the fan could play an Abba to Zappa     the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The
the Beatles. He wanted to test the           If the media plan had been to        game online and subscribe to the        nuances give the commercial its
minipops style to see if it could        flypost over flyposting, not only were   reminder e-mail that Music Monthly      energy.
work. His designs were enough to         there legal issues, but Byrne            was out on Sunday. In the pub, on            There is anecdotal evidence that
encourage Byrne to commit money          realised the idea was brilliantly        the bar, the fan would see beer-mats    many of The Observer’s core target
for development costs. Now the           elastic. It worked on tee-shirts, in     with some of the twenty-six             group videoed the commercial to
agency could commission Robinson         print, in ads the size of a postage      characters. Others would be             watch it again and again. Others
to work with them on the project.        stamp and on four-sheet or ninety-       featured on free postcards. And still   downloaded it from
     Then it became a matter of          six-sheet posters. It would even         more of them would be there on four-    www.abbatozappa.com, offering
Robinson trying different styles and                                                                                      further proof that in these times of
e-mailing them to the team. One, a                                                                                        TiVo and Sky+, if advertising
more rounded sketch of a Beatle,          “As a result of OMM and the advertising behind it,                              content is engaging enough, people
struck everyone at Mother as being               we don’t get the sales dips we did.”                                     will seek it out. Creativity works, to
coin a phrase.                           happy to have on board” because                             Clie n t                               Ag e n cy
    The fact that not everyone could     new advertisers have come along as                          Biog r a p h y                         Biog r a p h y
identify all twenty-six of the           well.
characters was one of the idea’s              But Sands is coy about the hard                          Marc Sands,                           Robert
strengths. It stimulated                 numbers, saying only that the                                 Marketing                             Saville,
conversation in those pre-gig pubs       conversion costs per customer have                            Director,                             Mother
as well as generating chat online. It    been better than with the other two                           Guardian                              Robert Saville
also communicated the sense of           monthly magazines, Sport and Food.                            Newspapers                            started his
breadth that was at the heart of The          As of August 2005, circulation                           Ltd.                                  career as a
Observer.                                was up to 441,943 copies. While                               Many years                            runner at
    And the results?                     there have been a steady series of                            ago, Marc was                         Valin Pollen,
    This is all Sands will admit to:     product innovations and                at Cambridge University and then       before becoming an Account Director
“We were getting sales peaks twice       consistently noticeable advertising    went on to do an MBA. He then          at Saatchi & Saatchi. He worked at
a month, with Sport and Food. As a       in support of these, there can be      joined D’Arcy working in both the      Abbot Mead Vickers before
result of OMM and the advertising        little doubt that the Abba to Zappa    London and New York offices. Marc      switching to copywriting at Publicis
behind it, we don’t get the sales        campaign has played its part. Not      then went on to work for Lintas,       followed by GGT, where his award-
dips we did. Also, as I said before,     only has it driven sales but it has    Simon Palmer and HHCL, before          winning work for Holsten Pils
the campaign has brought us a new        reinforced the brand as witty, sharp   opting to work in the client side.     amongst others led to his
kind of reader, who we are very          and accessible.                        Marc moved to Granada / London         appointment as Creative Director in
                                                                                Weekend Television as the              1994. Robert left GGT to start
 What the client brought to the table:                                          marketing director. This led to a      Mother in 1996. He has recently
   • They briefed on a small project but recognised they had a big              rollercoaster ride as one of the       been described by Campaign
        idea on their hands and changed their plans as a result.                pioneers of On Digital, the            magazine as a curmudgeon.
   • They are not afraid of making mistakes, nor of owning up to                eventually doomed multi-channel        Needless to say he takes a contrary
        them.                                                                   digital platform. Marc joined the      view.
   • They make decisions quickly.                                               board at Guardian Newspapers Ltd
   • They want their agency to do well from their account. If the               in July 2000. During Marc’s time
        agency wants to win awards, they want them to win awards too.           The Guardian and Guardian
   • Having a history of buying award-winning work has given them               Unlimited have been awarded the
        permission to cajole their agencies into doing their best for           Marketing Week Effectiveness
        them.                                                                   Award and the Media Brand of the
   • They were happy to work with some of the agency’s younger                  Year award for The Observer by
        people, demanding talent rather than status.                            Media Week. The advertising
                                                                                created for the Guardian has won
 On the   creative side of the partnership:                                     many awards, most notably
    •     They brought new people in on the team to reinvigorate it.            numerous awards at the Campaign
    •     They were open to all the suggestions made by the client.             Press Awards, frequent presence in
    •     They shared their success with their clients, inviting them to        the D&AD annual and most recently
          join them at the D&AD Awards dinner.                                  our IPA Effectiveness Award.

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