Submitted by: Shareena Patel 03/07/2015
“The best executions have that element of not spelling out the message, having a problem to solve that dramatises the product”. In an exclusive interview, President of the McCann Creative Leadership Council Andreas Dahlqvist talks us through six of McCann’s top print campaigns
There aren’t many ad agencies in the world more successful than McCann. With over a century of creating campaigns, the agency is responsible for the most memorable ads in media history, from ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke’ to ‘There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard’. They even created the Gold Blend couple.
Right now, they are riding high on the back of a phenomenally successful year, walking away with armfuls of awards from the Cannes Lions Festival, as well as global success for campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Mastercard, American Airlines, L’Oreal Paris, Chevrolet and Nescafe. At the heart of the agency’s creative engine room is Andreas Dahlqvist, President of the McCann Creative Leadership Council and Chief Creative Officer at Commonwealth//McCann, the global business unit serving General Motors. Andreas has a huge amount of campaigns under his belt from a vast range of clients, from McDonald’s and Coca-Cola to Panasonic and Volkswagen, and has won nearly every major creative award in existence. In short, there aren’t many people more qualified to talk about print and its effectiveness.
“Print is a hugely valuable tool in advertising,” he says from his office in New York. “When everything around you appears intangible there’s something really welcoming about a product that has a physical manifestation, something you can touch and look at and has a place in the world.” So sit back and allow one of the world’s finest creatives to talk you through six of McCann’s greatest print ads from the past two years. “There’s something about reducing an idea down to two dimensions, with just an image and some copy, that appeals to both creative and consumer,” he says. “And when you get it right it’s really powerful.”
Penguin Audiobooks -Author Headphones
McCann Worldgroup, Mumbai, India
In 2013, McCann India were given the task of selling Penguin Audiobooks, ironically moving people from print to audio using a press ad. The execution was simple, with William Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde rendered as headphones, talking directly into the listener’s ears. “This is a brilliant print execution,” explains Andreas. “It’s so powerful that you don’t need any headlines or copy, just the immediate, simple idea of having these authors speaking directly to you. When done well, print ads provide a certain element of magic to the consumer, one that captures your eye and forces you to come back to take a second look.” And it works: in less than a week after the campaign’s launch, awareness of Penguin Audiobooks increased by 15% and sales increase by 7%. Judges of the Cannes Lions were impressed too, awarding it two Gold Lions at the 2013 awards. “The best executions in any media have that element of not overtly spelling out the message, having a little problem to solve that dramatises the product.”
Metro Trains- Dumb Ways to Die
The 2012 multiplatform campaign to prevent accidents on the railways in Australia was one of the most successful campaigns of the modern age. The results were staggering: a video that was viewed 60 million times on YouTube, an app downloaded over 18 million times, $60 million of earned media impressions, a song that charted on iTunes in 28 countries selling over 100,000 copies and, more importantly, a reduction in rail-related accidents by 20% year-on-year. But while these figures are impressive, it’s easy to forget that a major part of the campaign was in print, with the characters providing the inspiration for a series of refreshingly simple – and literal – executions.
“This campaign is super-integrated,” explains Andreas. “It’s a public service message that doesn’t use the usual scare tactics, which you tend to look away from. This is taking a piece of information and turning it into entertainment, acknowledging that we’re talking to an audience that doesn’t necessarily want to be told what to do and using that to our advantage.” “The printed pieces of this campaign have that beautiful poster effect to them. They’re part of a bigger campaign but also effective standalone pieces. They’re fun, entertaining and beautiful, and work really well as both posters and print ads.”
AFAL/National Alzheimer’s Association - 25 Years Ago…
The National Alzheimer’s Association wanted to mark their 25-year anniversary with a commemorative campaign that both raised awareness of the association and the work they currently do on behalf of those with Alzheimer’s and pay tribute to those who had contributed to the cause over the past quarter of a century.
So earlier this year, McCann Madrid produced a series of press ads that created three major historical events through the faded memory of an Alzheimer’s patient. The result are captivating pieces of art that draw in the viewer and invite them to investigate further. “What I really love about this execution is the craft,” says Andreas. “The craft is beautiful. And there’s nothing photoshopped here; these are handmade collages from genuine newspapers of the time. There’s a real passion at work where you can instantly see the amount of effort people have put into it. It really shines through and draws your attention.”
NISA Hospital - Bad Habits Awareness
In 2013, the NISA Hospital group wanted to raise awareness of the increasing cardiac problems caused by smoking, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, so commissioned McCann Madrid to create a pre-emptive ad campaign. The result was a powerful and dramatic single-image solution that makes an immediate statement. Armchairs form a huge explosion, hamburgers create a tsunami and cigarettes become an airplane about to crash. “This series of ads is doing a couple of things,” says Andreas. “You have the piece of information as a statistic and the image is dramatising it in a beautiful way. But it’s also managing to get across the magnitude of the problem. It’s the sheer size and scale of it, bringing the information to life in a fantastic way.” As with all campaigns, a huge amount of research and thought goes into the process of creating such dramatic ads, the creative team fully understanding the client’s objectives before bringing their ideas to life. “You need to take the brief and all the information in then let it percolate,” explains Andreas. “A lot of times you also need to let it go for a while, because the best ideas are something that your subconscious helps to solve.”
L’Oreal Revitalift - Upside Down
McCann Worldgroup, Singapore
In this 2013 ad for L’Oreal’s anti-aging cream, a series of young women are held upside down, given an instant facelift. But while the less intuitive creative might have run the image in its original format, the team at McCann Singapore flipped it 180-degrees to bring a sense of innovation and fun to the ad. With no copy apart from the product details, the reader is left to figure out why the image looks slightly odd – the slightly raised hair, necklace, earrings and the straps of a spaghetti top providing the clues.“This is one of my favourites,” says Andreas. “It’s a great use of print media. You’re making the printed page interactive, prompting people to do something to solve the ad. Again, it’s one of those brilliant ads where it’s a very smart solution, without much copy, yet you still intuitively understand what the product benefit is.”
Auto Club of Portugal - On My Way
The Auto Club of Portugal commissioned McCann Lisbon earlier this year to raise awareness of an increasing problem not just in Portugal but all over the world: texting while driving. This public awareness message needed to be immediate and clear, communicating the message in an instant while giving the viewer a lasting memory of the nationwide press and outdoor ad. The solution was to show in full detail the effects of texting while driving, a young boy or girl hung in the air immediately after impact. The chilling effect was achieved by photographing the models suspended in mid-air using a series of ropes and harnesses rather than relying on photoshop, “The idea is that something so seemingly insignificant such as a text message can have disastrous consequences,” explains Andreas. “This is an example of an execution where the production is very important. The image had to look as authentic as possible so the models’ arms and legs were pulled in different directions. The ad is made powerful because it’s so real.”
• For more on the work of McCann, go to www.mccann.com/work