Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Apply directly to" your creative director

Great article from Slate on the insanely-popular HeadOn headache gel advertisements. I started seeing buzz around the blogoshpere but since I don't really watch TV, haven't had the privilege of seeing said 10-second spot. I had no idea what this was all about until I started reading more and more posts and seeing spoofs and spin-offs. Catch the original and two spin-off product spots here.

Do these ads suck? I say no. They sure aren't pretty. They aren't going to win awards. Yet that is what makes these ads so good. They are affective precisely because no one mired up the concept with creative b.s. Yup, I said creative b.s. Not saying the creative process is b.s. Not even saying squeezing a little creativity into a boring assignment is b.s. Creative b.s. is the stuff we marketers add to simple assignments for our own eyes (or those eyes of award judges) and subsequently miss the point of the assignment: to get butts in seats, cars off the lot or in this case, magic headache gel on the foreheads of American consumers.

What do we need to do? Launch a product. Check. People are talking about HeadOn. The blogosphere is abuzz.
How will that product be successful? Generate awareness. Check. Headache or no headache, you're going to look for this stuff in the drugstore aisle. Plus, how many spoofs of the repetitive mantra are out there? Everyone knows the name - even if they haven't seen the spot.
How do we generate awareness? TV campaign. Check again. Utilizing the best in annoyingly simple tactics (repetition, example), the spot becomes a perfect channel for memorizing the product, process and result.

In a time when creatives (and many clients) are concerned with developing something "buzz worthy" or orchestrating content that will travel virally at the speed of broadband, this simple, ugly, yet catchy little ditty pulled the pants off a creative process that does not always result in, well, results.

I don't know how many tubes of HeadOn are selling because of this spot, and that's not the point of my post. The point is, when you have an assignment, answer the call. It's sexier to sell than it is to waste everyone's time with an idea that only creates interest among your creative counterparts.

Listening to: Mates of State - Bring it Back. Bleeding Kansas is going to kick so much rumpus.


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