Special Group is the first New Zealand ad agency ever to be asked to talk at the Semi-Permanent creativity conference, which packed out the Aotea Centre in Auckland for a few days recently and featured headline acts like New York artist Ron English, UK digital agency Hi-Res, San Francisco-based Industrial Light & Magic and Wallpapermagazine. The local lads opened proceedings in front of around 2000 people with a talk centred around the eight things they do to make their work more effective that showcased the diverse range of work they have produced over their four years of existence—including the Best Award-winning packaging work for ecostore and the 2011 AXIS-award winning AXIS opening film. So here's a summary of their presentation.
It’s what New Zealand does really well. It has to. We have the perfect conditions for creativity.
2. Use deception
You don’t have to play by the rules. Advertising doesn’t have to look like advertising. A conference might be a more effective way to get a message across than a DM campaign. Or a TV series like the Smirnoff Night Project might be a more credible and engaging than an adapted international TV campaign.
3. Keep it simple
Nothing new here. But it works. Like breathing. You’ve just got to do it, and it’s incredible just how many companies don’t. For this they showcased the triple-Gold EFFIE winning 2008 Green Party campaign, which was just three words—‘Vote for Me’—and one image of a little girl.
4. Tell me something interesting
What’s the insight? Where’s the story? Why do you think I’ll spend a minute of my time finding out about your brand? Spend time upfront to work this stuff out. Sometimes you have to ‘get out of the way' i.e. let the story be the interesting part. Don’t over complicate and try to be clever for the sake of it.
5. Back yourself
There are usually a lot of things that can go wrong. Especially if you are doing or planning something unusual and fresh. Sometimes you just have to back yourself (in November 2007 with no clients Special launched by running a full page ad in the Herald saying “Don’t waste your money on advertising”. The risk paid off: they won three new clients off the back of the ad).
Spread the joy. Work with the most inspiring and exciting people you can. The example Special used here was the launch of Four. Special renamed and rebranded C4 to Four, designed the onscreen look and titles (in collaboration with MediaWorks' in-house team) and launched it with a fully integrated campaign of digital, billboards, print and a certain 40ft tall giant yellow duck (a collaboration with Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman). The result was a 49 percent increase in ad revenue and recognition at the CAANZ Media Awards last week where it took out the ‘Media Brand of the Year’ title. "Four is a great piece of work to show because designers and creatives love it," says creative director Tony Bradbourne. "And so do marketing directors and accountants. To be able to increase ad revenue by 49 percent whist making people smile is the kind of result we're after."
7. Use the Force
Use the weight of a bigger issue to make your point. The Sumo tactic. Special showcased how they used the Rugby World Cup and the tidal wave of brands clambering to associate themselves with it to make their point. They repositioned Four as ‘The home of Not Rugby’ and when people were supposed to be watching the World Cup, the channel grew viewership by 10 percent as every other mainstream channel lost share.
8. Ludicrous self-belief
If you have a clear vision of what you want to be, you’ll grow into it. Obviously hard work and a bit of luck are factors, but if you believe 100 percent that your business will be a success, you’re well on the way.