The client was cool. The brand was amazing.
We saw an opportunity and got excited.
We cracked the idea and felt good about it.
We presented the full plan with enthusiasm.
We sold it really well.
Client liked it. It was a good route.
We killed it the next morning.
What happened overnight?
It just happened that the client liked it. It was a good route.
He didn’t question or challenge anything.
He smiled, satisfied, as if we read his mind.
He was too comfortable.
He could easily link the idea to what his product stands for.
He could surely see the sales potential.
Was this what we were really looking for? A happy & comfortable client?
Was this the ultimate idea that would connect with people.
Was this the next big one that would blow your mind away.
Our idea was good and the client liked it.
With a tiny ‘i’, a lower case ‘g’ and a boring little ‘l’.
There are 3 types of Great Ideas:
- The ‘how come we didn’t think about it’ ones.
- The ‘I wish we thought about it first’ ones.
- The ‘fuck! These guys must be on something’ ones.
Being in the presence of greatness leaves you unsettled, a tad uncomfortable, speechless for a few seconds,
sometimes for minutes….
It leaves you with a bit of discomfort, like when you are face to face with an unexpectedly gorgeous woman.
A great idea happens when your instinct tells you yes, but you’re not too sure…it takes a bit of time, then it overwhelms you.
The more open-minded, risk taker, experienced you are, the quicker the gap between discomfort & excitement narrows.
Good ideas sink immediately into your mind
Great ideas play with it at first. Then they blow it away.
It is simple. A great idea is one that goes beyond your comfort zone.
It takes you places you’ve never been. It defies the usual, the norm, the mundane.
It defies the brief. And takes it to a better place.
The reason we killed our first idea, was because it was approved on the spot.
It didn’t leave our client with a bit of discomfort. It was too safe and good.
We usually don’t settle for that, especially when we see the opportunity and when the client is up for it.
So next time your client smiles but tells you he needs some time to absorb & assimilate the work he just saw,
rest assured that you did a great job.
A movie says more than a thousand words
Last week we had some fun.
We gave each and everyone in Livingroom a line, a belief, a promise from our agency Manifesto and a week to come up with an idea around it.
It would have been one of those tasks that get lost in inboxes,
thrown on the back burner while day to day work takes priority,
or even ignored and forgotten till its dead and meaningless.
Luckily, we don’t abide by the ‘Normally’.
Instead, things happened.
We heard finance pitching their ideas to designers over a cigarette break,
We saw Brand Navigation experimenting with Photoshop,
Journey planning playing around with fonts,
Mission Control scratching their brains,
Connection having fun,
After hours brainstorming sessions,
Proud & glowing faces with ‘I found my idea’ written all over them.
And the result was mind blowing, nothing less than ‘Goose bumpy’,
Livingroom transformed into an art exhibition where everyone displayed their ‘own-created-developed’ idea.
It was heartwarming.
A reinforcement to our belief that great ideas come from anywhere and that we were indeed surrounded by Talent.
Definitely a big SMOOCH!
Check for yourselves:
ITS WHEN YOU’D TOUCH EACH OTHER WITHOUT A GUILT
ITS THAT TIGHTEST HUG YOU’D GIVE YOUR PARTNER
ITS WHEN YOU’D STAY LATE COZ YOUR PARTNER HAS A DATE
WE BELIEVE EVERY PIECE OF WORK WE DO IS LOVED TO BITS
WE BELIEVE THAT EVERY PIECE OF ART WE CREATE…WE CUM OVER IT
WE BELIEVE TALENTS ARE IRREPLACEABLE
WE BELIEVE OUR FLABBY TUMMY WILL NOT SLOW US DOWN
WE BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE OF US IS A PAGE IN THE BOOK CALLED ‘THEY DID IT’
WE BELIEVE IN INDIVIDUAL INDEPENDENCE & COLLECTIVE VICTORIES THAT TURN INTO BEST SELLERS
ITS A BELIEF THAT MAKES OUR HEARTS BEAT LOUDER THAN THUNDER
IT’S THAT CUP OF TEA YOU’S PREPARE FOR A VISITOR, A COLLEAGUE OR A CLIENT
WE ARE BELIEVERS
EINSTEIN ONCE SAID ‘FUCK YOU’. WE SAY, ‘FUCK YOU EINSTEIN’
WE BELIEVE THERE IS NO NIGHT…JUST THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT
WHEN THE SUN SLEEPS, WE TURN ON THE STARS
IT’S THE HONEST LAUGHTER THE SECURITY ON THE GROUND FLOOR WILL HEAR
BECAUSE WE’RE LIVING
I’ve always been the rebel at the forefront of employee causes, raises, corporate freedom.
I fought wars.
I challenged CEOs.
I initiated petitions and brought back ‘fired’ Talents against management’s will.
I was hated and respected by people, depending which side they were on.
Then one day, I became ‘Management’,
and I was given the answer to all issues,
…the magic formula management lives by,
…The ‘secret’ transmitted by one management generation to the other,
…the ultimate advice:
‘now that you are taking a new role, always keep in mind that everyone is replaceable’
I was shocked.
How could anyone praise their ‘assets’ at every public occasion and live by that formula behind closed doors.
I was never convinced and never learned that.
I couldn’t make the leap.
I was considered the black sheep of ‘management’.
Whilst management always praised that ‘people were their biggest assets’, they were still convinced that clients were the source of revenue, which put Talent as a major source of ‘expense’.
My constant debate was that our Talents were in fact our main source of revenue and that they deserved much more in return.
I was treated as an idealistic, a dreamer, a naïve people’s person… an obstacle.
Talents don’t join companies for money, name, location, medical insurance or even client lists. Employees do.
Talents are on the constant look out for a company with an amazing Spirit and true genuine Beliefs.
A place that offers endless possibilities to actually achieve what they have in mind.
An honest place where the formula applied behind closed doors is actually the same one shouted out loud in company gatherings.
The moment the Spirit & Belief appear fake…
The moment they realize they are as valuable as a replaceable spare part…
Their strong feeling of belonging fades away.
The more time I spend doing what I do, the more my beliefs in Talents are reinforced.
The more hours I spend talking to Talents, the more I know I am not a dreamer or an ‘obstacle’.
The more job interviews I make, the more I realize that Talents are rare.
Talents are irreplaceable.
Everything else is.
I always said it. I keep saying it. And I will always live by it.
Following my last ‘Noose’ on the KFC bucket run campaign, I promised I would ‘Smooch’ at least 10 ideas before trashing another one.
But this ‘thing’ made me change my mind.
I say ‘thing’ because it doesn’t fall into any category in mind
it’s not an ad.
it’s not a conversation.
it’s not an idea
it’s not a connection
What is it?
I glance at this ‘thing’ and i can hear the client mumbling somewhere in a cold, grey, corporate conference room:
‘let’s shock people….let’s show them blood…they will get scared and start using our brand….it worked in Poland!’
I relook at it and i can see the agency guys sit silent, defeated, losing interest, after many weeks of struggle.
Congratulations Brand team….you just won your argument and flashed your ‘insight’ right in front of our eyes…
….’a blood stain in a white sink’.
While you think this is a result generating campaign, the reality may be a bit different.
It is a disgusting ‘ad’ that even ‘blood spitting people’ may not appreciate.
And while the ‘insight’ is spot on, (and I’m sure you spent a fair amount of money on ‘research’), you missed a very important point:
Communication is not about flashing your insight in its raw form!
It’s more about taking it to another level, a level where you can have a proper connection with your audience.
A level where you can let your audience identify and connect in a subtle way. Let them see the ‘revelation’
And trust me…a visual mix of saliva and blood will not do it.
It will just result in a sudden face-turn, and people wouldn’t glance at it ever again.
So you have a product that certainly works…
and I understand you want to target a specific audience.
Have you considered doing it in a way that would not make them feel embarrassed to ask for your brand?
..and without polluting Sheikh Zayed Road?
Well, I’m just glad you don’t sell hemorrhoids cream.
Definitely a ‘Noose’.
I’ve never been a health freak,
But I know what is healthy and what is not…and I’ve indulged of the ‘not healthy’ for so long.
I’ve never been an ad guru,
But I feel what is a good communication and what is not…and I’ve been indulgent to the ‘not so good’ for so long.
I can tolerate cheaply produced ads.
I can even accept flat communication…sometimes there is a reason for that.
But what I will never tolerate is irrelevant communication.
I’ve been seeing this bridge banner, every day for the past week.
And every time, I tried to remain positive to find a logical link.
So I checked it again online.
And here is the idea:
We’re a fast food brand. We sell ‘deep fried’ chicken…..and we love Children.
And we care for their education
So we’re organizing an event to help raise money for their education.
And since we have a spicy variant, this makes us:
“All Fired Up to help educate Children”.
The flames in the over cluttered layout are spot on..they are related to their ‘hot & spicy Zinger taste’ (check the bottom left corner, around their ’30 years’ icon).
The name ‘KFC Bucket run’ definitely makes sense since it promotes the large size family meal.
The mini promotion on the left side is pure genius since it pushes you to buy a Bucket and share it with friends…of course because sharing is caring!
The rewards listed are tempting. A trophy, free meals, free gifts and the list goes on and on.
So what’s not to like!
And to prove that the campaign is a success, check their 300K FB likes (which of course are pushed by the genius ‘Click and win a free meal’ hook)
Well done guys! you just crossed the line to beyond irrelevant.
If you’ve been told that these are the ingredients that make a good ‘community initiative’….get a second opinion.
If you really want to do something for Children, then maybe introducing ‘fat free’, ‘skin free’ or ‘Fried with grape seed oil’ variants should have been the answer to your brief.
And if you care about their education that much, you should have been challenged and reminded of ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’
The main issue is that this communication is forced.
I am sure something went wrong somewhere. Having been around for ’30 years’ comes after all with maturity and community understanding.
What happened here?
I’ve had my share of KFC buckets and it’s the ‘Unhealthy’ i like. Pleasure and sin goes sometimes hand in hand.
What annoys me in this communication is the ‘irrelevance’.
A boring ‘Cleaner Dubai’, an expected ‘Plastic-free week’ or even a free ‘play area for kids’ initiative would have gotten a better review.
I’ll stop here and wish you Good Luck with your event.
I bet we’ll see lots of empty buckets and filled bellies on Feb 24th.
Definitely a ‘Noose’.
Being the ‘not another dinosaur’ agency, its in our DNA to be playful and do things differently.
But our principles are set & sacred.
One thing’s for sure, we respect other agencies.
That’s where we all graduated from.
We owe them for where we are today.
Without them we wouldn’t be here under the same Livingroom roof.
We speak our minds without reservations but within the boundaries of ETHICS.
We allow ourselves to criticize…constructively.
What’s out there in terms of communication is pushing us to do so.
We see Art and Bullshit every day.
We see Big ideas and ‘Reclame’ everywhere.
We want to talk about them.
We will praise what we believe is worthy
We will trash what we believe is mediocre and doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.
We’re not pretentious and we know that this will definitely not improve the communication landscape,
But at least we will release some of our frustrations and hope to get you on board to release some of yours as well.
Smooch or Noose is our next activity.
We will select every once in a while a campaign that caught our attention. We will Smooch it…or Noose it.
So watch this space.
And before starting with others, we will start with ourselves.
Here is Some of our work… let us know which ones deserve your Smooch and which are doomed to your Noose.
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Brands live in an era where the conversation is constantly evolving.
And the consumer is controlling the megaphone.
Consider this carefully then.
Should your brand still be speaking in cavemanic?
Or pursuing a near extinction thought process?
We don’t think so.
That’s why we believe in not being another dinosaur.
We are led by talent.
Motivated by honesty.
Fascinated by new technology.
Obsessed with the conversation.
And don’t believe in waiting for the future but rather in creating it.
We live so that brands can.