Moving stuff: the recent rise of the animated ad

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but Covid has put the kibosh on quite a few things.

For many brands, it meant a swift U-turn – quickly dropping campaigns that were already in the can, for comms that were more in keeping and reflective of the crazy times we suddenly found ourselves in.

At the same time, the government’s insistence that we stay at home to save lives and the sheer need to get something out there quickly meant that lavishly produced, beautifully shot spots were suddenly out the window.

In their place came a flood of homespun, handmade ads – shot on phones in living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms; with hand-markered messages replacing slick motion graphics.

In short, the creatives had to quickly become even more creative.

Now we find ourselves a many months down the line and living with the restrictions the pandemic has enforced on every aspect of our lives. And while in adland, socially distanced shoots have become a thing (we know, having shot the new Hoover H-HANDY 700 ad in October), it seems that many brands have turned to animation to connect with their audiences.

For me, there are a few reasons for this. On a practical level, with no need for a physical shoot with huge numbers of cast and crew, minimising contact and maintaining social distancing isn’t an issue.

Also, animation gives you the scope to express concepts that would be harder to get across with live action. This is certainly the case with Childline’s excellent ‘Nobody’s normal’ ad, where strands of spilling wool are used to represent the fears and feelings the protagonist is struggling to keep inside.

Christmas 2020 was always going to be a different one. So both John Lewis and McDonalds took a different approach in joining Aldi by producing an animated ad. While Aldi’s continued the whimsical tale of their popular anthropomorphised root vegetable Kevin, both Maccies and JL’s offerings were more emotive in tone and reflective of the nation’s collective mood.

And this is where I feel animation really comes into its own. The lightness, warmth and subtlety of animation can help to soften the delivery of darker, more difficult subject matter.

Its visual charm wins us over, making us feel somehow more comfortable and more willing to watch. Drawing us in; fixing and focusing our attention. Moving us and making sure the message lands successfully in our hearts and minds.

A happy (and hopeful) 2020

The tinsel and trees are down and here we are, blinking in the light of not only a new year but a whole new decade. And while it’s fair to say that the last 12 months had its ups and down, who knows what 2020 has in store?

Despite the uncertainties of 2019, the world’s leading media investment company GroupM predicts that the UK advertising market will grow by 6.7%, taking its total worth to £24bn and making the UK the fourth largest market on earth.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that digital continues to dominate, with the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and eBay driving global growth of 15% during 2019.

But it’s not all bad news for more traditional channels either. While last year, TV advertising spend saw a 2.3% contraction, GroupM reports that outdoor saw 8% growth in 2019 – a figure it expects to settle at between 4-5% over the next five years.

Overall, this paints a fairly positive picture for the industry. So here’s to a happy (and hopeful) 2020 – one filled with optimism and opportunities for all.

What do Skoda and Hull have in common? (No, this isn’t a joke)

Brand-wise, the city of Hull has recently had a bit of a makeover. But before I tell you more about that, let me tell you an old joke that goes:

“A bloke walks into a garage and asks ‘Can I have a windscreen wiper for my Skoda?’ and the mechanic answers “Yeah mate, that sounds like a fair swap.”

To anyone under 40, that probably won’t make a lot of sense. But if like me, you grew up watching ‘Battle of the Planets’ and eating potato waffles and beans for tea, you’ll remember that during the 1980s and early 90s, Skoda was a laughing stock.

Famed for their poor build quality and lack of reliability, Czech-built Skodas suffered a real identity problem here in the UK. But that all changed in 1991 when the brand was acquired by the Volkswagen Group.

And while the German car giant got to grips improving the vehicles themselves, it was advertising that really helped Skoda reverse its fortunes and turn the brand around.

Research had shown that 60% of car buyers would not even entertain owning a Skoda. So tackling this head on, the ‘It’s a Skoda. Honest’ campaign was created. The gist of this was to show status-conscious individuals discovering much to their surprise, that the car they were interested in was, in fact, a Skoda.

Flipping people’s prejudices on their heads, the campaign successfully managed to turn sceptics into Skoda drivers and by 2001 UK sales topped 35,000 – their biggest ever year.

But what does all this have to do with Hull? Like Skoda, the East Yorkshire city has been the butt of many a joke over the years. As far back as the 17th Century, a verse that reads “From Hell, Hull and Halifax, good Lord deliver us” helped colour people’s prejudices about the place.

So when Hull was named 2017 UK City of Culture, the question was how could it shed this image? By developing a brand strategy that would change people’s perceptions in the same way that Skoda had.

With a new identity and narrative, Hull welcomed an impressive 6 million visitors in 2017 – 26% above target.

Much more than just a well-designed logo and a memorable strapline, both these examples prove the power of branding. Get it right and you can change minds, shift opinions, create desire and win hearts and minds.

Get it right and you can get the results and ROI you deserve.

For the full article on how Hull started thinking like a brand, click here.

Creative journeys: My week in Bucharest

How do we continue to develop and harness creativity in our industry? It’s a question with myriad answers, but one thing we can do as creatives is commit to lifelong learning.

As part of these efforts, I took the opportunity to work alongside creative counterparts at GMP Advertising, friends of the agency based in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. A fascinating city which straddles historic notions of east and west with an intriguing mismatch of Art Nouveau architecture and the utilitarian influence of the Soviet era, it proved to be an energising environment to explore the ways other creative agencies work.

GMP was formed in 1998 by Felix Tataru and is now one of the biggest agencies in Romania, employing over 70 people, including over 30 people split across two teams in the creative department. Similar to One, they’re an integrated agency with Digital, PR and Social Media divisions all working on a wide variety of high-profile clients and winning numerous awards.

As an Art Director, this was a brilliant opportunity to immerse myself in the city and the agency, speaking to fellow creatives, finding out how they work and discovering the similarities and differences to how we work here at One. GMP work on projects for some big names in Romania – Timisoreana, a large Romanian brewery, Rompetrol, a chain of petrol stations and, Press One, an independent publisher, were the projects I contributed to during my week-long stay.

The latter was particularly interesting. The campaign was called Traiasca Capra Vecinului, and was based around an old Romanian saying, “Sa moara capra vecinului”. The phrase is a comically deadpan retort typically uttered by farmers to their neighbours when their livestock dies, “I hope your goat dies too”. There’s nothing like blunt, intra-farmer rivalries to inspire a campaign…

Press One started an initiative to challenge that sentiment, flipping it to “Traiasca capra vecinului” or “long live your goat”. They created five human-sized goat statues, anthropomorphised and decorated to represent different aspects of the press industry, and then gifted to competitor organisations. They were amazing creations, sculpted first in Styrofoam, of which fibreglass moulds were made, and then painted to look like bronze.

The statues are meant to encourage friendship and collaboration between rivals, and this has been pushed out further with well-known competitors such as McDonalds and KFC, and Porsche and BMW getting involved on social media. It proved to be a very successful campaign generating plenty of engagement and it’s almost certainly set for award recognition. Moving beyond its marketing impact, it served as a great example of the way that culture can inspire creativity and birth original, striking and ultimately engaging work.

Of course, on top of the professional insights, it was a fantastic chance to socialise with our European friends, discover contemporary art at Muzeul de Artă Recentă and sample the local schnitzel. Oh, and do some craft beer ‘research’ – the Zaganu IPA was a corker.

Our year in review

Take a moment to see what made 2018 such a magical year for us as we look back on 365 Days of One.

Looking ahead, maybe we could make 2019 a magical year for you. Sound good? Let’s talk.

One builds on success with construction award nod

We’re pleased to announce that we’re up for an award for our work with Taylor Wimpey! We’ve been recognised for a children’s book, which was devised for the national homebuilder, in the Northern Marketing Awards.

Shortlisted in the ‘Best Property and Construction Campaign’ category of the 2018 awards, ‘How We Build Your Home’ is a paperback book which aims to provide process, timescale and health & safety information to kids in a fun way.

The book also ties in nicely with the firm’s commitment to incentivising young people into construction and support its ‘homebuilder that cares’ strapline.

Borne from a series of brainstorms, including an agency-wide session, the rhyming book utilises bright colours and explains safety messages in a simple but effective way. It also aims to help children to understand the psychology of the home-buying process and assist them with visualising living there.

The book was copywritten, designed and created in-house and One acquired input from across the Taylor Wimpey group, including the business unit, health and safety, production and sales & marketing teams, to ensure that the content was factual and featured the correct equipment.

Anna Powell, head of Marketing at Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd, added: “How We Build Your Home’ was a great idea and when word got out about the first edition, it spread like wildfire across the company and many business units wanted to get involved.

“Once the campaign had made its mark in the North West, One made a compelling case for rolling it out across the UK and National Book Day 2018 provided the perfect platform for the cause.

“Typically, national campaigns are led by us at head office, so it was refreshing to see the business units champion the cause to bring the initiative to fruition.

“We’re really proud to have delivered a ‘feel good’ campaign that simply served as a gift for the communities we build in.”