How a campaign was born
Commercial ads are a necessary evil. Most of us tune them out. TiVos, DVRs and similar devices are popular because they help us do that.
But when you see a great ad, you want to see it again and again and sometimes, even share it with others. A friend, Reg Saddler says because of the way he now consumes content, he doesn’t have to watch commercials anymore. So when he actually sees one, it’s like, “Hey, a commercial!”
Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, OR has done its best to create some watch-worthy ads.
Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably seen some of W+K’s handiwork. Some of their clients include Chrysler, Coca Cola, KFC, Old Spice, Nike, Samsung and Verizon. Here are a couple of classics:
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
When I first saw W+K’s Old Spice commercial, I thought it was hilarious. “Old Spice?” It was a moribund brand that W+K miraculously brought back to life. I even remember tweeting a link to watch it. That’s how good it was.
W+K isn’t a household name except to people connected to the advertising industry. In my view, having such an amazing agency in the Pacific Northwest is a point of pride. W+K’s creativity has been recognized through Clio awards (the “Oscars” of advertising), Addys (American Advertising Federation), The One Show, and Cannes Lions, and other arbiters of advertising greatness. They rock!
Do you wonder how commercials are created? Do writers and art directors sit around in altered states to come up with some of the crazy ideas we see? Or are the ideas data-driven to tickle the brains of the target audience? Or are some ads simply random shots in the dark? How DOES the creative process unfold?
Wacky ads are popular. The hope is to break through the thrum of other advertising messages and also stand in contrast to programming. Lame ads have been accepted as the norm, and many commercials are noise, at best.
Last fall I started noticing some nice Verizon spots on TV. They were smart. The concepts were wonderfully illustrated. They were nicely produced. Their intelligence could almost be described as disruptive.
In February I became curious, and learned the current Verizon branding campaign has been the work of W+K.
It all started to make sense.
#BetterMatters is the campaign concept underlying the commercials and print ads we’re seeing. On the surface, it seems pretty obvious — yes, “better matters,” but what does it mean?
I wanted to know about how the campaign came about, so I contacted the agency in Portland. Katie Hull in W+K’s PR department was helpful, and pointed me to some useful background.
In announcing the campaign, Melissa Garlick, Verizon Sr. VP, Brand Creative said, “At its core, “Better Matters” exemplifies that the network you choose and the access it provides, makes a difference. Better is how we differentiate our brand in the marketplace. We realized that one out of every three Americans is a Verizon customer, so…we found a dozen different ways to explain how Verizon has a better network, and why better matters.”
Verizon launched the new campaign on the heels of the logo “refresh” designed by Pentagram. Incidentally, the Verizon logo debuted the same week as the new Google logo.
What do you think of it, by the way?
In a story about the Verizon campaign, Adweek wrote: “The theme of this work is ambitious and suggests only Verizon can fully deliver on “the promise of the digital world.” Its central analogy, illustrated with a series of colorful metaphors in a dozen ads from W+K’s creative team, holds that a higher-quality network leads to a better quality of life, especially when it comes to everyday convenience.”
Creative directors Aaron Allen and Jason Kreher echoed that message, telling Adweek, “The challenge was explaining some pretty dry facts in a way that would resonate.” The varied nature of this campaign “ensured that production would be a huge challenge, but it resulted in a ton of good work that helps Verizon stand out from the competition.”
To view the ads, click Verizon Commercials.
Verizon uses an array of images to show why its network makes life better. Watch A Better Network Explained by a French Scuba Diver.
In working on the Verizon campaign, W+K determined which concepts would be most salient and worked with their clients to find different ways to explain how Verizon has a better network, and why better matters. It included highlighting characteristics like the 4G LTE network, its capacity, reliability and coverage, as well as its unique access and exclusive offerings. It helped W&K to come up with solid creative because Verizon had real value to offer.
There are always going to be people who complain about their individual experiences with ANYTHING. But I believe Verizon works hard to earn its top metrics and customer loyalty by providing a great network, and in the bigger picture, providing value and service to a broad audience, even beyond their customers*.
At the end of the day, advertising is about making consumers feel they need a product or service, or to feel good about their connection with something. When an ad agency’s client has great offerings, it’s a heckuva lot easier to tell the story.
Images sources: Commercials created by Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, OR; Truth in Advertising Excerpt directed by Tim Hamilton (12-minute film short can be viewed in its entirety here); Verizon logo animated gif created by Pentagram
*Verizon supports social initiatives including Hopeline, helping victims of domestic violence, and provided recognition for Organize, which strives to bring organ donor registration to the 21st century.
My collaboration with Verizon began in 2014, and I’m proud to participate as a member of their social media outreach team. My posts are about my own personal experiences. No compensation is provided, nor are favorable comments promised. All opinions are my own.
More about Terri:
- Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
- Terri Nakamura on Twitter
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- More by Terri Nakamura
11 thoughts on “AD-miration for Creativity”
Interesting story. For some reason I have heard of W+K. Maybe because I lived in Portland.
Thanks for reading. I think W+K has pioneered some really amazing programs in Portland, involving kids and professionals.
David and I were in Portland and ventured to their offices. It was a Saturday, but people were working, walking in & out. One of Charley’s schoolmates was working there at the time. And it’s located in such a cool part of the city.
Are you full time in Sun River?
Reblogged this on Joan Stewart –Finding Leads 4 U and commented:
Creativity and advertising, well written example of advertising and ideas by Terri Nakamura
Joan, thanks for reblogging! Cheers/Terri
Gee thanks, sis. You’re just gonna sling that “mid-40s” jibe right in front of me, ain’t ya?
Entertaining and educational! Right on! It’s a treat to see great ads — thanks for all the work and research done to share these!
We’re fans of Wieden+Kennedy. They’re so creative. The “Truth in Advertising” clip has been around for what seems like decades, and is still pretty funny (and true).
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
interesting insights! After watching a couple of Verizon spots, I agree with you. They are smart and wonderfully illustrated indeed.
I also liked that you too that extra step of getting in touch with W+K’s PR department. Most bloggers would have glanced over that step.
Interestingly, W+K also created the first Facebook commercial, back in 2012 which got some mixed reviews…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U16XShROI8
It was creative for sure, but not rooted in what clients actually cared about. Seems they have successfully applied that lesson in the new Verizon campaign!
Hi, Kai. Thanks a ton for reading the post and for your thoughtful comments. I’ve been a fan of W+K for years and had absolutely no idea they created a commercial for Facebook! How in the world did you know that?!
I took the liberty to check out your WP site. It’s really nice and well written, too. I liked your analogy of Legos when you talked about how a site is built.
Where are you located? I didn’t look to see.
Verizon is smart to hire W+K. When I see what their competitors are doing, Verizon always seems to be a few steps ahead.
Wishing you well, and thank you again for telling me about the FB ad!
thanks for coming back to me so quickly. I’m working out of Montreal these days.
It really was a coincidence to stumble over the Facebook ad some time before reading your article, and totally out of context. I just remembered the name of the agency, W+K, and that they were based in Portland. It seemed unusual for big national and multinational to hire a firm from Oregon until I realized that W+K were global themselves.
It’s good to know that even the big ones need failures to evolve…makes my own ones seem more purposeful 🙂
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