Tag Archives: the brief

THE BRIEF: What advertisers made it to the podium at the 2012 London Olympics?

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

The Olympics are not the Super Bowl, or Wimbledon, or The Masters or the World Cup. They’re not even the World Series. The Olympics are their own visceral genre of world hope and glory. They may sometimes be tainted by doping, or questionable genetic engineering (as my friend believes of the 16-year old Chinese swimmer, Ye Shiwen), or bad sportsmanship, or huge national disappointment, yet, the Olympics unquestionably and historically hold a certain gravitas, which sticks in our memories like a gymnast’s dismount.

Therefore, it’s The Brief’s opinion that to advertise on the Olympics means you have to be rigourous with your creative choices. You need that creative endurance to make this your finest moment. Why? Because the world is watching.

The Brief’s results are in:

GOLD: Nike FIND YOUR GREATNESS ”Jogger” – Wieden Kennedy, Portland.

AUDIO: Greatness. It’s just something we made up. Somehow we come to believe that greatness is a gift reserved for a chosen few. For prodigies. For superstars. And the rest of us can only stand by watching. You can forget that. Greatness is not some rare DNA strand. It’s not some precious thing. Greatness is no more unique to us than breathing. We are all capable of it. All of us. It is as though NIKE lifted the idea from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”* Or perhaps, from Martin Luther King who said, “Greatness comes in all people… no matter the color, no matter the race, or no matter how a person looks. Everyone has greatness.”*

It’s with this elegance that Nike’s communication lives up to the greatness of the games to take Gold.

SILVER: RONA “Relay” – Sid Lee – Montreal






This campaign wins SILVER for several reasons. It’s funny and it’s glorious to look at. Which is a hard accomplishment, and makes RONA’s campaign Olympic worthy. It also has a hyperbolic idea that stands out like Alex Morgan’s head in at the 123rd minute of yesterday’s Canadian Women’s Soccer game.

BRONZE: VISA “Lopez Lomong” Team Visa Athlete Story – TBWA/Chiat Day – Los Angeles




SUPER: VISA proud sponsor for 25 years

SUPER: facebook.com/visa

MORGAN FREEMAN: Lopez Lomong started running when he was six and he didn’t stop – for three days and nights – as he escaped life as a child soldier. Twenty years later he was still running, he just had a different thing driving him. Every step of the way. VISA, proud sponsor of the Olympic games for 25 years. Join our global cheer.

The Brief put VISA on the podium winning Bronze because of its reverence for history, inspiration, and compelling short stories of athletes who overcame adversity to become Olympians. This campaign, made even more Olympian thanks to Morgan Freeman’s narration, launched a Facebook app and other social platforms which allowed fans to record audio, video or simply text cheers for more than 60 Visa-sponsored athletes.* (VISA was able to interact directly with athletes as it was a sponsor.)

Disqualified: P&G. Why P&G didn’t make it to the podium was due to a major deduction: By not including a “thank you” to Dads and only Moms, P&G seems to be reading research from the 1950s. We are, as a culture, long overdue in giving Dads their just wave of applause. They are equal participants who make dramatic sacrifices (even sometimes more than Mom) and should share in the glory of their children. Just look into the audience and you can see how much Dad means to the games. Go Dads!

Please write in and let The Brief know who you would put on the podium. And in the meantime, I hope the Olympics have inspired you to put on your Nikes now and again and “find your greatness.” Speak to you soon.



  • William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (Quote Act II, Scene V).


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
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THE BRIEF: An interview with the Spiderman of 3D – James Stewart

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

18,000 screens featuring Spiderman 3D experienced the world’s first 3D gesture control cinema game. The game is part of the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S3 phone, and is backed by the largest cinema ad budget in history. Credits are due. Samsung’s advertising agency is Razorfish. Audience Entertainment/NCM produced the interactive game, and Toronto’s Geneva Film Co. and its founder and director, James Stewart,* produced the live action.

The Brief spoke with James Stewart about this first 3D cinema experience as well as the potential 3D now has in enhancing the consumer’s interaction with brands on their tablets, phones, computers and TV.

The Brief: How did Geneva Films get involved in this huge Samsung Galaxy S3 launch?

Stewart: NCM and Razorfish pitched the project for Samsung with 3D cinema as a key component. Then they came to me because I have done 3D cinema spots with them in the past for Lexus and Sprint and they know we understand the potential of 3D.

The Brief: You’ve been an ambassador for 3D speaking at Cannes, TED and all over the world, trying to convince people to shoot in 3D, why has it been such an uphill battle?

Stewart: Advertisers were scared of 3D. That’s changing. Obviously. I think 3D should always be considered in the creative execution.

The Brief: We’ll get back to that, but let’s talk about the Galaxy S3 cinema launch. Tell us about this first.

Stewart: Nobody has ever produced a 3D stereoscopic gesture controlled game in cinemas before this. It was what we called NBDB – Never Been Done Before.

The Brief: Let’s have our readers watch the theatre experience and come back.

Stewart: Great.

Stewart: So as you see, the game works like this: The audience sees a virtual Galaxy S3 phone floating in a landscape of 3D animation. The audience is then invited to raise their hands and move their Galaxy to try to connect with the Galaxy phones. The objective is to “bump” phones and experience how the Galaxy S3 lets you share content from one phone to the other.

The Brief: This is the key new feature in Galaxy S3, right?

Stewart: Yes. And the game introduces it with an incredibly immersive experience, in a gesture control environment where people can actually interact with a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone in 3D.

The Brief: You saw it in New York. Was the reaction great?

Stewart: Amazing. One of the world’s biggest brands was launching one of their biggest products using 3D as the cornerstone of their campaign. It is the first collective visceral experience engaging an audience in a major product launch. This is a huge leap forward for advertising.

The Brief: And 3D finally gets to star. You’ve been pitching it to the industry for a long time; you must feel something visceral yourself.

Stewart: I have always understood that advertisers were a little scared of 3D. But Samsung proves that its time has come. Our involvement in this campaign has been a huge experience. Samsung’s sold over 10 million Galaxy S3′s already. It’s a serious threat to the iPhone. They are calling it the iPhone killer. If I have a message its for agencies it’s to get on board with 3D for their brands. Only 3D lets you show a product and have your customer interact with it.

80% of the US households will get the London Olympics in 3D. Digital 3D is here to stay.

The Brief: You’re selling hard now.

Stewart: I don’t have to. Research has given 3D a compelling argument in its favour.

The Brief: Shoot.

Stewart: In a study on 3D by ESPN product liking and retention is substantially higher.* What brand doesn’t want that?

The Brief: You had me at ‘retention’. What human being doesn’t want that?

The Brief would like to thank James Stewart, a friend and contributor to TO411DAILY for bumping into me and letting me share his content. If you have any questions about 3D, don’t ask me. Visit James at his website below.


  • James Stewart, Director/Producer/Chief Creative, Geneva Film Co.
  • In the ESPN study Stewart refers to above “…results show 3D TV ads can be more effective. In testing the Ad Lab showed viewers the same ads in 2D and 3D. 3D ads produced significantly higher scores across all ad performance metrics – generally maintaining a higher level of arousal than the 2D counterpart. Participants showed better recall of the ad in 3D:
    -  Cued recall went from 68% to 83%
    -  On average, purchase intent increased from 49% to 83%
    -  Ad liking went from 67% to 84%
    Fans enjoy 3D too.
  • The results showed a higher level of viewer enjoyment, engagement with the telecast and a stronger sense of presence with the 3D telecasts.
    -  Enjoyment increased from 65% to 70% in 3D while presence went from 42% to 69%”* 
  • Read more here: http://www.espnmediazone3.com/us/2010/11/04/3d-study/
  • Geneva Films website: http://www.genevafilmco.com


Comment to Linda at this address: thebrief@to411.com.
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THE BRIEF: A Swiss director working out of Montreal, a Russian client with a newly acquired lifestyle channel, and the rebranding assignment from War and Peace

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler


The Russian client discovered the Montreal based, Swiss director, Greg Barth, the same way I did, streaming from Vimeo. The client was looking for someone to rebrand a recently acquired Russian TV station called 7TV.

The Brief is featuring this rebranding “IDENT” campaign because – well – wasn’t it Churchill who described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”? So imagine how curious I was to speak to the director, Greg Barth, about getting on a plane to pitch a Russian client who speaks no English and convincing him that you’re the right choice to rebrand a lifestyle channel to a country with clashing lifestyle values! Vodka, anyone?

Click on Greg Barth’s rebranding campaign for Russia’s 7TV and see why this rebranding campaign won Bronze in this year’s New York Art Director’s Club.

Watch 7TV IDENTS below.

Barth plays with stop motion themes. A vocabulary of symbols in a text-driven medium, because symbols, Barth explains, break language barriers and express values. He describes his style as playful, naive and minimal, and when I ask whose work has influenced him most, he mentions among others, Dutch designer, Josef Hoffmann*, known for his strict geometrical lines and quadratic themes, Josef-Müller-Brockmann, the Swiss master of the grid system for graphic design, and Dutch designer, Willem Hendrik (Wim) Crowell*, for his love of typographic grids, typography and visual order in general.* One can see these influences in Barth’s commercial and personal work. He also admires the surrealists, Magritte, Dali and the great Sartre. Very heady. Which is good when you’re heading off to create a campaign for a client like Putin.

I spoke with Greg Barth via Skype.

The Brief: Tell us about your Russian client?

Greg Barth: Basically the man was the most hostile client I ever worked for.

The Brief: How did he come to select you?

Greg Barth: He was searching on Vimeo and found some work I’d done for a French TV show called L’Edition Speciale. * What he wanted was an outsider’s design point of view, and then to immerse them in Russian culture.

The Brief: What was the strategy?

Greg Barth: To bring the identity of 7TV in a totally new direction. Much like TLC. A channel focusing on lifestyle.

The Brief: What was the personality of 7TV before this rebranding?

Greg Barth: Provincial. They played old soccer games… old Soviet films. It was low end with terrible viewership.

The Brief: I can see why they needed rebranding. What’s the competition doing on Russian TV?

Greg Barth: Programming is flamboyant. It’s aimed at the under 30 generation in Moscow which is young, hostile, and aggressively capitalistic. It’s ‘Look at us. We’re rich, richer, the richest! See our logos shining in gold and diamonds?’ It’s a hustler, rough environment; be rich or die trying.

The Brief: No wonder my dentist loved it so much.

Greg Barth: We arrived in Moscow and walked 16-hours a day. The client insisted we see every Communist monument. He wouldn’t let us stop for a cup of coffee.

The Brief: It sounds like a scene from the Cold War. Did you feel at odds with the assignment or just the client?

Greg Barth: No. It took a lot of time to finally win the assignment. And I’m a big fan of the Communist architecture of the 50s and 60s. It’s beautiful – austere. Red Square. Lenin’s building. These are striking buildings and design. Pure minimalism.

The Brief: But how does that austere aesthetic coexist with a lifestyle channel?

Greg Barth: The client was targeting nostalgic Soviets who hate the new Russia. An older Russian generation. A lower wage to middle class (30-plus to 65/70), whose values were the very opposite of Moscow’s.

The Brief: So there’s a whole population of people who prefer pre-Perestroika?

Greg Barth: Capitalism came so quickly to Russia that Moscow is crazy. And because of that Russia goes to two states of mind: There’s Moscow, which I have described, and then there’s St. Petersburg. People in St. Petersburg share the older values. If you asked them the question, ‘How did you like Soviet Russia?’ they’d say they “loved” it. If you weren’t an activist you had a happy life. More neighbourly. People were in it together.

The Brief: So the psychographic is a Russian whose values are incongruent to the new Russia.

Greg Barth: Yes.

The Brief: 7TV had to project a lifestyle channel for a nostalgic lifestyle.

Greg Barth: With 4 key themes: Travel, Construction, Cinema, and Changing Yourself.

The Brief: But, what do those themes have to do with austere architecture?

Greg Barth: The “lifestyle” rebranding was defined by the client’s notion of perfection and precision.

The Brief: Still, not very lifestyle-ish, is it?

Greg Barth: Let me give you an example of the client’s obsessiveness: we walked literally hours and hours to a building and he pointed to its gate, “Look at this gate,” he screamed (in Russian), “It’s not the same design as the building. See? This is a lesson for rebranding; every detail must be perfect. Nothing must stand out.”

This is why I built the Polaroid camera out of wood for the CINEMA IDENT. So it wouldn’t stand out from anything else.

The Brief: Old Soviet values.

Greg Barth: “Everything fits together perfectly.” Which is the tag line for whole 7TV rebranding campaign.

The client wanted older iconography, and raw design, rustic objects — everything minimal. He was totally absorbed with aesthetics… instead of people.

Everything you see in the campaign was handmade, so that nothing stands out, but the essence of hand-made is ultimately and ironically very human. So it’s not austere in that sense. It’s Playful and friendly.

The Brief: Absolutely.

Greg Barth: And despite the overall impression of precision and how perfectly it all fits together – which it does in each of the 4 IDENTS, the way we shoot, in stop motion animation, makes the narrative feels very human.

The Brief: You’re right. I wonder whether this irony went over your client’s head. Because when you see the campaign, and the way you shot all the objects, with the bright colours and music – I see how it targets a modest lifestyle, but on several levels. The selection of symbols/objects entreats a full and intellectual life. On all those themes of travel and books and cinema etc. The older values are what you come away with. So you added humanity but fulfilled the brief brilliantly.

Greg Barth: It was really a team effort. 25 dedicated people, very collaborative, highly motivated – 14 days of stop motion animation with everyone having their roles – a very communal thing.

The Brief: Sounds like everything fit together perfectly. A theme within a theme.

The Brief would like to thank the talented, Greg Barth for his candour and unique creativity. You can see more of his work here.

And do write in and tell me what you think? Without your feedback, The Brief is just another voice in the sphere.


* FYI: two art directors, Vanda Daftar and Capucine Labarthe, accompanied Greg Barth to Russia.

* Josef Hoffmann http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Hoffmann

* Willem Hendrik (Wim) Crowell, http://talent.adweek.com/gallery/FTRT-typeface/4260405V

* Josef Müller Brockmann – Swiss Design and the Grid System

* L’Edition Special  http://vimeo.com/16926514

* The Brief highly recommends The Making of 7TV http://www.gregbarth.tv/#7TV-Idents-Making-Of

* More Greg Barth http://www.gregbarth.tv/#Essays-On-Reality

* Greg Barth is represented by Bernstein & Andriulli www.ba-reps.com/


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THE BRIEF – Q: Will McDonald’s new transparency campaign build or take a bite out business?

The new social media campaign from McDonald’s Canada, “OUR FOOD. YOUR QUESTIONS” lives on McDonald’s playful, interactive website, as well as Facebook and Twitter. It’s sort of an Ask.com for burgers, nuggets and fries. Customers can ask any questions about McDonald’s food, and everything, short of the profane, will be answered. The site even intuits questions and shares what other customers have asked on a similar topic. If you want to know how the Chicken McNuggets are made, or if the chicken is chicken or how the chickens are treated, just ask.

The best questions may merit an answer on The McDonalds Channel on YouTube. Questions like this one that Isabel M. asked:

“Why does your food in advertising look different than it does in the store?”

Marketing Director, Hope Bagozzi answers Isabel M. by buying a store bought McDonald’s burger and taking it straight to Watt International Photo Studios who have shot their food for seven years. Here she breaks it all down for Isabel M., showing her exactly why a burger may look just a little bit prettier than it does in person. Watch and come back. 

The Brief wanted to dig deeper into this idea of forthright food, so I turned to Hope Bagozzi for a quick Q&A.

The Brief: Was there something at McDonald’s, vis-a-vis its customers that needed fixing? Was there some cynicism or lack of trust about your food?

Bagozzi: Through research and employees’ own anecdotal experience, we know there are a lot of myths about McDonald’s food. The aim of this platform – Our Food. Your Questions. - Is to be part of these conversations

The Brief: I thought your video showing how you shoot your burgers was very honest. You made the point that all the ingredients are the same from the pickles to the bun. How you build the burger on the bun for photography. Loved the syringe strategically putting in the ketchup. But basically this wasn’t a beauty shot. There was a lot of integrity to that piece down to why the warming boxes change the look of the buns.

Bagozzi: Yes. We did very little retouching to that burger we featured. We’ve found that the more authentic and true-to-life our products are portrayed (i.e. less “perfect”) the better and more appetizing they look. Making a product too “stagey” isn’t delicious.

The Brief: Does it concern you that some customers (on the website) have asked questions that could potentially turn people off your food?

Bagozzi: Not really. Our Food. Your Questions. Is all centered on transparency and our aim is to be open about our food, whether a question is about an ingredient or how we advertise our food. When it makes sense, we’ve created images or videos to bring some of the facts to life. For some things, seeing really is believing.

The Brief: The idea is very gutsy. Was this a corporate initiative or did your agency come to you with this?

Bagozzi: We approached this in partnership with our digital agency, Tribal DDB. We were both passionate about driving transparency for the brand and Tribal’s thought leadership brought us to the Our Food. Your Questions. platform.

The Brief: Can one be too transparent; can that be dangerous?

Bagozzi: My hope was that in showing the steps of how our food is advertised, that people would better understand. Of course we considered what the reaction would be, but our goal was to lift the veil on the process.

The Brief: And the response so far?

Bagozzi: The response has been very positive. We’re hearing that people appreciate the chance to engage with McDonald’s, to ask their questions and to get factual answers. Our aim is to reach as many Canadians as possible to engage them in a conversation about our food.


Though The Brief thinks “Our Food. Your Questions.” is a big and bold idea; the jury is still out on whether this new social platform is risky business. Will all this transparency turn up the heat for McDonald’s Canada? Or, here’s some food for your thoughts: could so much information be too much information? Tell me what you think.


* Hope Bagozzi, Marketing Director, McDonald’s Canada

* http://yourquestions.mcdonalds.ca/

* See more McDonald’s Q&A videos on The McDonald’s Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/McDonaldsCanada

* The Globe and Mail, McDonald’s Marketing Tries a Transparent Approach, Susan Krashinsky http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/mcdonalds-marketing-tries-a-transparent-approach/article4357943/


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THE BRIEF: Casting has gone to the dogs

By TO411Daily Columnist
Linda Chandler

The Brief was curious about the status of commercial work for actors today. We all know production cools during the summer, but looking retrospectively at the year 2012, it appears many of the commercial acting jobs were going to different species. Say pigs, sheep, geckos, bulldogs, chimps, cows, hippos – why even meerkats and macaws have more calls than actors.

Dogs may not be a commercial actors best friend. So many commercials go to the dogs (or cats) because, like babies, we love them. And they will upstage actors no matter how loyal we are misled to believe. If you watched the 2012 Superbowl you saw Tucker the Pomeranian steal the show.

What a performance, right? Then, Mr. Quigglly, the tiny French bulldog, ran circles around real people in the Sketchers-Go-Run commercial.

Traveler’s Insurance managed to get true pathos from this pup:

Is it any wonder dogs have such brilliant careers?

Where’s the work for humans? The Brief is beginning to worry that the dirth of parts may make commercial actors go down a slippery slope. Like the slippery slopes expressed in the ‘big idea’ campaign for DirecTV.

A version of the “slippery slope” for commercial actors:
When you haven’t landed an audition in a while, you fire your commercial agent.
When you fire your agent you sign up for expensive acting classes.
When you sign up for expensive acting classes you have to pay for them by waiting tables.
When you wait tables, you bump into your former commercial agent thus cutting off your nose to spite your face. 
When you cut off your nose to spite your face you have to join a small-time circus. 
When you wind up in small-time circus the elephants in the big ring make you see red. 
Don’t let the elephants in the big ring make you see red. 
Call your local hair salon and change your hair colour to red instead.

The Brief believes that having red hair gives you a singular advantage to get whatever roles are left for humans. See below. *

Nobody has put more animal talent to work than Telus.
Telus, formerly Clearnet, truly owned cute animals. Animals against a white limbo set with very cool music. Over the years, they’ve employed hummingbirds, parrots, lizards, macaws, hippos, pigs, cheetahs, red pandas, hippos, rabbits – you name it.

Recently, and unfortunately, Telus added a human touch to their spots. A 50/50 ”problem/prologue” part with a real human scenario and “solution” part with the loveable animal. The Brief yearns to make a ruthless edit. Out with the humans and on with the animals. It wasn’t broke, why’d you fix it? See if you agree.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid hired the entire animal planet. Auditioning for this spot were bears, squirrels who can drop a nut on command, groundhogs, wolves who can pant and drool, armadillos, foxes, owls, ostriches, raccoons, deer, and a driver in the car. There was even a call for raccoons that could wave goodbye to the Sonata as it drives by. To indicate that the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is environmentally friendly, Hyundai made animal talent and their agents, handlers and owners very happy.

Upstaged by a Gecko? You bet. In the case of Geiko, the Gecko, voiced by English comedian and actor, Jake Wood* the droll animatronics character will tell you why people trust him, a talking Gecko, more than a human spokesperson. Watch and slither back.

The competition is wild for animals too. Around 40 animal talent agencies inhabit North America.* They’re indigenous to places like New York, Honolulu, Miami, Chicago, Portland and of course, Hollywood. These agencies handle hundreds of clients including animals of the wild, and trained domestic and exotic creatures. They work like all commercial actors auditioning for roles and in most cases, under contract. But sadly, an animal, no matter how gifted, groomed, exotic or tamed it is, from the production end, it’s considered merely a prop. Cathryn Long, the vice president of All Creatures Great and Small, a New York-based animal talent agency says, “I never refer to [them] as props… They are animal talent.”*

Don’t be an ostrich, get out there and fly like one? This commercial, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Johannesburg, makes us feel joy, hope, happiness and desire. It’s a hoot. And the point is, of course, if an ostrich can hold out for a part like this, so can you!

Make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh, make ’em laugh. No creature on earth entertains us like chimps do. For example: Careerbuilder.com’s Super Bowl ad.

But those hilarious chimps are actually babies who have been taken prematurely from their mothers and are now malleable*. And their smiles are behaviors taught by their handlers through fear and manipulation. The Huffington Post says that a study conducted at Duke University revealed that the inappropriate portrayal of chimpanzees in media is also likely to hinder conservation efforts and distort the public’s perception of endangered animals “Yes, the chimpanzees are immature — that’s because they’re babies who should be with their mothers,”* PETA writes about the campaign.* The Associated Press reports that the Lincoln Park Zoo (which has had its own controversies) has been on top of Careerbuilder.com since 2005 to stop using these baby chimps.*

Garrrrr, woof, bahh, moo, quack, tweet, oink, prfff, hoot, neigh.
Human actors, let’s talk. This trend with animals is unsettling, but you may find some solace in the following: Animals cannot scarf at the Craft table. Also, there are no sycophant hair and makeup artists who fuss and flatter. No trailer with a TV and private bathroom. And for you ladies, those grips, the only true animals on the set, will never flirt with a meerkat. Hope this helps.


* An observation by The Brief that many actors, especially in the awful Rogers campaign, have red hair.


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