Saturday, 7 July 2007

Does The Dove Evolution Success Mean Agency Evolution As Well?

I just want to say a few words about the fact that the Dove Evolution viral video has won both the Cyber and Film Grand Prix awards in Cannes this year (that's the advertising awards, not the film festival awards). I know this was a few weeks ago now, but I was on an unconnected holiday when the news broke.

I think this marks a significant turning point for the industry, and not just because it's a viral video that has achieved acceptance and success at Cannes. After all, Droga5 won the Grand Prix in the Cyber category last year with their Still Free viral campaign, so two years in a row could be considered to be a trend.

Much of the discussion, even in new marketing circles, seems to have been centered around the fact that this is a breakthrough piece mostly because it is not a traditional 30 sec tv spot. True to form, author of Life After the 30 Second Spot Joseph Jaffe provocatively commented on his blog:

"Dove's Evolution wins both Cyber and Film Grand Prix. Consider this the first day of the new era of creativity. Ding Dong traditional creatives, you are well and truly dead."

However, what is just as significant (if not more so) is the concept itself, which is so markedly different from anything else out there in the beauty products category. When have you ever seen an ad in this category actually attempt to make women feel good about their own body image by acknowledging the constructed nature of images in popular media?

Now let me illustrate the clear impact of this success story within the industry by sharing an experience with you. I have been in a number of group situations in which this video has been shown to agency professionals as part of a general showcase of new work, and also informally in day-to-day agency situations.

The fact that this video has been shown and discussed is a good thing, but from the various comments and discussions it became clear that many of the men in the room just did not 'get it'. This includes many of the creatives who deal with pop cultural ideas on a daily basis. Many of the men just didn't understand why this campaign has been so popular with women, and just didn't think it was a great campaign, or didn't want to acknowledge that it was. Most of the women in the room had a very different view. It is telling that in this country at least, in many agencies (both traditional and digital) around 80%-90% of creatives are still men. It's hard to believe in this day and age I know, but there it is.

Although both the writer and art directors for the Evolution campaign were men (UPDATE: please see the comments for a correction to this), there was clearly a healthy new approach at play here, and a very successful one. It's great that the Cannes jury has been quick to acknowledge and reward this different approach. There is nothing that starts to change old school, boys' club agency thinking faster than the lure of big awards - sad but true.

Since the awards, a few questions have been asked about the quality of digital work in this country, as there was only one bronze award given out in the Cyber category this year. Many reasons have been cited for this turn of events, from the current digital skills shortage, to inadequate broadband infrastructure, to conservative clients still thinking interactive is just an 'add on' to more traditional work. While there may be truth to these assertions, could it be that old school attitudes and conceptual thinking are also playing a major role in the lack of recent success as well?

What are your thoughts?


alphabunny said...

I believe this portion needs to be ammended:
"Although both the writer and art directors for the Evolution campaign were men, there was clearly a healthy new approach at play here, and a very successful one."

From what i understand, Jessica Weiner had a lot of input into this campaign. I believe that Dove listened to her and used her ideas about women's self-esteem to shape the campaign.

check it out

jj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jj said...

Great, thanks aplhabunny. That makes sense. You have just helped to amend it with your comment, and thanks for the link.

These are the people listed on the official Cannes Lions credits. The credits never tell the full creative story do they:

Janet Kestin/Nancy Vonk, Chief Creative Officers, Ogilvy&Mather

Tim Piper/Mike Kirkland, Art Directors, Ogilvy&Mather

Tim Piper Writer, Ogilvy&Mather

Brenda Surminski, Agency Producer, Ogilvy&Mather

Yael Staav/Tim Piper, Directors, Reginald Pike/Ogilvy&Mather

Tico Poulakakis, Cinematographer, Reginald Pike

Jennifer Walker, Production House Producer, Reginald Pike

Stephanie Kouverianos, Soho Post Producer, Soho

David Hayman/Andrew Harris Music, Vapor

Paul Gowan, Editor, Rogue Editing

Myk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.