Thursday, December 3, 2020

"Ads that made me." A selection from Tim Maleeny, President and CSO, Havas.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to persuade Kristin Cavallo, CEO of the Martin Agency, to contribute a post with a few of her favorite ads. You can see Kristen's post here.

In the wake of that post, I've gotten my friend and former colleague (we were at Hal Riney together) Tim Maleeny to contribute a few of his choices. Tim, is also an Ogilvy vet, an inveterate contrarian and a "fixer of agencies."

He's currently Chief Strategy Officer at Havas North America. Tim lives in Tribeca where he occasionally writes mystery novels, the latest of which is "Boxing the Octopus," available here.

I asked Tim (and if you're not careful, I may ask you,) "What ads 'made' you. Where do you go to set a high bar? What got you excited about advertising? What makes you say, 'I wish I did that?'"

Tim responded with the following: "George, thanks for inviting me to "Ad Aged," a daily dose of sanity for an industry that's lost its mind. I've culled a list from my endless scroll of favorites. Like you, I still love great advertising and occasionally go through historical reels to find or rediscover lost gems that raise the bar--versus solving for the lowest common denominator."

Thanks, Tim.

I think it's important to point out that now that accountants, operations people, data crunchers, theorists and consultants have taken over the industry, it's nice to have some thoughts from a genuine advertising person who genuinely loves advertising. 

Remember loving advertising? Why anyone would work with or for an agency or for agency people who don't love it is beyond me. Tim's picks aren't merely "creative." They're work that used creativity to get noticed, get a point across and get talked about. 

I'd wager that the heads of most agency holding companies and a large majority of agency management doesn't even believe in the efficacy of advertising itself.

Enough of my editorializing. Tim's picks:

1. Saturn "Alaska." Agency: Hal Riney & Partners.

I was fortunate to spend many years at Hal Riney & Partners when Hal was still around and the agency was independent. Colleagues who never worked at an independent agency don't fully appreciate the culture of a founder-run shop when it comes to sheer confidence and a collective obsession with the work. 

As Nike is to Wieden, the Saturn case was to Riney. And this campaign redefined how car advertising could work without driving footage and grill shots. Imagine telling a client that you wanted to do a spot about a product defect and recall?

2. Jameson "Lost Barrel." Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day.

Beyond my personal fondness for cephalopods, this long-running campaign demonstrates why production values matter, even (or especially) in a world where we spend more time online than watching TV. At a time when the industry is talking about storytelling as if it's a new concept, it's worth acknowledging that making your brand the protagonist in an epic 30-second story isn't easy. And it's becoming a lost art.

3. Johnny Walker "The Man Who Walked Around the World." Agency: BBH.

From casting Robert Carlyle to shooting this short film as a single take, Johnny Walker's origin story is proof that tapping into a brand's DNA can give me a reason to make it a badge. Too often strategy fixates on the consumer or the competition without giving enough due to a brand's soul, which is why so much advertising has become interchangeable and forgettable.

4. Henry Weinhard's "Saloon." Agency: Hal Riney & Partners.

Craftsmanship matters. Here's a spot that plays off the colloquial bar call for Henry Weinhard's Beer in a script carried entirely by first names, with no other copy necessary. Writers like Paul Mimiaga are few and far between.

5. Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like." Agency: Wieden & Kennedy.

So much of Wieden's work could go on this list but I chose Old Spice because it resurrected a brand that was marketed nearly to extinction by the packaged good madness of pre-testing, process, and unique selling propositions. This campaign would never have been produced following standard P&G protocols, so kudos to Wieden for being stubborn, and the runaway results gave momentary courage to other brands stuck in the 1950s.

6. Dos Equis "The Most Interesting Man in the World." Agency: Havas.

A nod to Havas colleagues who came before me and built a campaign that took a barely known beer and drove double-digit growth in a flat category. The campaign sells the brand by underselling the product with the infamous line, "I don't always drink beer..." Another example of why pre-testing never leads to fame--this was creative talent and a brave client.

7. IBM "Reality Detector." Agency: Ogilvy.

Anyone who's ever worked on a global B2B or technology account owes a debt of gratitude to Steve Hayden and the late Chris Wall, who paved the way for smart, shareable advertising in a drab dull arena, from Apple to IBM. The original e-business campaign saved a great company that Wall Street wanted to break up for spare parts and redefined Ogilvy for years to come. 

This spot was part of a small arc in an incredibly eclectic campaign that lasted years and led the way to the brilliant work on Smarter Planet.

8. Geico "Fencing." Agency: The Martin Agency.

A random, recent spot from a campaign that reminds clients everywhere that brands matter and advertising works. By keeping executions fresh, this campaign dispelled the media myth that running a single execution again and again will pound your target into submission. Thanks to Kristen Cavallo and the talented folks at the Martin Agency for keeping this iconic campaign going.

9. Chipotle "Farmed and Dangerous." Agency: Piro.

Smart and subversive and endlessly entertaining, a rare example of un-branded content for Chipotle intended to change perceptions of sustainable farming without ever mentioning the brand sponsoring the series. Marketing more entertaining than most so-called entertainment on TV, years ahead of its time.

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