The script is just a safety net

Creatives love TV ads. More than the customers they're designed to appeal to. So what can we do to inspire our creatives, clients and consumers? Quite a lot, says Cam Blackley.

This started out being a bit of a general article, aimed at speaking to clients and creatives but then I realised half the audience was already converted. So attention marketers: “this Bud’s for you.”

It’s sexy to talk about innovation, so let’s talk about TV commercials, and how to be innovative around the creation of them. Because as a marketer you’ll have to justify some pretty staggering figures to ‘make and air’ your spot with acceptable ‘target audience rating point’ rates.Cam Blackley

Plus, I figure as marketers in this country we have an addiction to television commercials. So I’m going to stick where the money is and hopefully help us all get more out of it. And let’s face it, until you can ‘achieve reach’ in other medias within our tiny market – TV ads are here to stay. Which is great, because I love them.

But the public, not so much. Or should I say, they don’t love them as much as they could. So let’s see if my thinking can help make the ad break as memorable and entertaining as the content around it.

As a client, once you’re happy with the script, it’s likely already gone through round after round, it’s been socialized, vetted by rational heads, external experts and personal opinions… and you only have to say one thing to your agency:

Tell your agency their script is the worse case scenario.

And this is what you’ll get in return:

  1. Invigorated Creatives.

Creatives are emotional beasts. By telling them the script is just the safety net you have done two things. Guaranteed an end result that you can all live with but also laid down the gauntlet to push for something very special. You’ll get more time than you paid for from your team poring over the details. You’ll cause sleepless nights as they continuously try and look for the magic that consumers will talk about.

  1. An inspired Director

You’ll get a director that can do his job knowing that there’s more to play for than plodding through storyboards. He’ll find back-stories for characters, twists in plots. You’ll get energy and enthusiasm to shoot what you’ve agreed to, plus bonus tracks. I was a lowly, corridor-sitting slug when Guinness Surfer was done at Abbott Mead Vickers.

The script never had white horses in it, the team and director fought for the extra quid to put them in and it went on to become one of the most revered, remembered and iconic ads of all time. Without that leap it’s a guy catching a big wave with a strong voice over.

  1. Friends of the Cause

Likewise our friends at post houses come to the party because what you’ve done is ignited an enthusiasm around your work, which equates to a little bit of extra polish lovingly applied to your job. Maybe even a free fireball or two if your spot requires it. People love the opportunity to truly showcase their skills.

  1. Loved up Consumers

Your consumers will feel it, too. They repeat the phrases at BBQs and in pubs. I am using ‘Not happy, Jan’ as an example here. It’s worthwhile watching the boss awkwardly open a safety window to deliver the line rather than shout it across the office floor.

  1. A Badge I’ll Wear

And of course you don’t have to use some or all of the extra craft, magic and enthusiasm that you’ve engaged your creative agency for but you just might get ‘I’m on a horse’ and a 500% sales uplift. Imagine that! From dead brand to the biggest turnaround in history.

I guess a good analogy is that a piece of paper is flat but there’s all sorts of things you can do to it to make it beautiful, memorable and remarkable. We just need you to grant us permission to scrunch it up – we can always get the iron out if needs be later.

So, if you’re a client I’d love you to stop clinging to that thin piece of paper with its perfect edges and functional form. And if you’re a creative team I’d like to see if you can origami the crap out of it to make something even more entertaining. Because that’s your job.

Cam Blackley is the executive creative director and junior writer at BMF Advertising


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