Advertising has a long history of animal anthropomorphism. And as part of its ongoing marketing campaign around the idea of change, FCB has tapped into that heritage by launching a mad ad featuring a singing sheep.
Titled 'We the Sheeple' and featuring what could only be described as the ovine version of Shaggy, FCB's executive creative director James Mok calls the ad "an irreverent take on embracing change".
"Change can be something to resist or something to embrace. So the ad is about how you can get the most out of change."
One of the ironies of this industry is that advertising agencies very rarely advertise and seemingly prefer to let their work, their awards, their expense cards, or their existing global brand positioning do the talking. But FCB has been openly advertising its services as 'the change agency' for a few years now, signing up as the sponsor of Mad Men on Prime in 2009, running a series of TVCs that used its clients' ads, including those of Pak 'n' Save and Greggs, as case studies, and putting a nice campaign in Air New Zealand's Koru lounges in 2012.
Mok worked at Saatchi & Saatchi in the '90s, so he no doubt learned a thing or two about self-promotion there, but he says chief executive Bryan Crawford started the ball rolling. He came from a corporate background and "one of the things he did was to talk about strategy" and try to get everyone thinking about whether the things the agency puts its energy into now were working towards a longer-term goal. And, given the success of the agency, in terms of its growing client base, its awards and its reputation, that seems to have worked.
"The ads are an external expression of our point of view. It's been really important to take a point of view in the market place, and not just to do ads around it, but to actually live it. The idea of behaviour change is something that drives us. And changing behaviour does lead to business results. If you don't get people to do stuff, how can you measure how effective your work is?"
So do these ads actually get clients in the door? Or is it more symbolic, so that existing clients, staff and, ideally, potential clients, can see it's walking its talk.
Mok says it's a bit of both.
"We want the ROI on that. But we believe in our brand. So we're putting it out there so we and our clients have a clear idea of what we stand for."
He says the agency encourages its clients to own a point of view and communicate its position, so it once again treated itself like a client and looked at its objectives, its problems and its opportunities. And while he admits it's targeting a fairly small market here, its strategy is to create something that might be shared and distributed. Mok points to the work of Volvo Trucks as an example of a B2B business casting a very wide net—and taking a much different approach—to get its message across.
Originally its Live Tests were intended to be a B2B branding activity, but the ideas were good enough to appeal to everyone and its epic splits commercial featuring Jean Claude van Damme became the most watched automotive campaign ever on YouTube—and all in just four weeks.
"Truck drivers are influenced by friends, family and other truck drivers," Mok says, and so, too, are marketers, which is why it's putting the ad in a broad mainstream space.
Speaking of animals in ads, here are a few others.
REGIONAL ECD: James Mok
EXEC CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Tony Clewett
CREATIVE TEAM: Hywel James / Kelly Lovelock
HEAD OF CONTENT: Pip Mayne
ACCOUNT TEAM: Toby Sellers, Sally Willis
PRODUCTION CO: FCB
DIRECTOR: Marco Siraky / Kelly Lovelock
DOP/EDITOR: Marco Siraky
ANIMATION COMPANY: 2.5D mouth manipulation on sheeple
ANIMATION DIRECTOR: Mike Stephenson
End logo lock up animation: Matt Oak / Craft @ FCB
SOUND STUDIO: Liquid Studios
ENGINEER: Brendon Morrow
COMPOSER/ARRANGER: Liquid Studios / Peter Van DerFluit
PRODUCER: Tamara O’Neill
SINGERS: Richard Simpson and Jackie Clarke