Dan Peppler

Chairman, National Creative Director,Doner Schur Peppler, TorontoThe launch campaign for The Famous Grouse scotch whisky was a clever way to use small space to communicate a simple message, says Dan Peppler.The campaign shows the brand's grouse illustrated in flight and then...

Chairman, National Creative Director,

Doner Schur Peppler, Toronto

The launch campaign for The Famous Grouse scotch whisky was a clever way to use small space to communicate a simple message, says Dan Peppler.

The campaign shows the brand’s grouse illustrated in flight and then landing over four consecutive pages of stock listings in The Financial Post.

‘It was one message, strung out over four pages, that intrigues them initially and leads them to the end thought, `Scotland’s favourite whisky’,’ Peppler says.

As well, he says the grouse symbol lent itself to the small space and provided an easily identifiable symbol that capitalized on the heritage of the brand.

‘The Famous Grouse has strong heritage around the brand in Scotland, but not here,’ Peppler says. ‘We needed to create some equity in the brand.’

Q. Why did you choose newspapers for this campaign?

A. We had a very focussed target group and a limited amount of funds. The task force sat down and discussed the brand mission, obviously aware of the financial restrictions.

The question was, against that target group, which is upscale, and with a limited amount of dollars, how could we create the most impact? That’s why we chose The Financial Post. I came up with the consecutive page idea.

I’m not sure I would have done anything differently with more money, just increased the frequency and published it in more books.

Q. In your opinion, are newspapers underused for image advertising?

A. That’s a very difficult question to answer because it depends on the brand or service you’re dealing with.

There is a tendency to view tv as the halo medium and others as support. That’s such a time and place issue, depending on the product you’re dealing with.

I’m not that familiar with image advertising per se in newspapers. I can’t recall a campaign that has used newspapers as the dominant medium.

Q. Excluding your own work, what have been some of the best examples of image building in newspapers?

A. I guess it’s a question of definition. I think back to that Volkswagen ad, back in the time of the fuel crisis.

It was a cartoon figure holding up a fuel pump to his head. And the caption said, ‘Or buy a vw.’ It was produced by Doyle Dane Bernbach in New York.

Now whether that was image building or a tactical idea where the advertiser took advantage of something happening in the marketplace, I don’t know, but that obviously would contribute to the image of vw.

tv was their main medium for shaping the image, with print for support. They obviously took advantage of something that was happening in the marketplace, using the right medium. They reinforced their image in a very fuel-efficient manner.

Q. What qualities do successful newspaper image campaigns have in common?

A. People talk about a lot of white space. Great advertising invites participation, involves the viewer, reader or listener. That is the measure of great advertising, whether you’ve effectively communicated in whatever medium you’re working in.

Q. What specific challenges does the medium present – what are its limitations?

A. I think apart from the obvious one – it doesn’t move – I think The Famous Grouse is a classic example of what potential is there.

If you can manipulate the guidelines you’re working under, it can work very effectively.

I’m talking about everything that comes into play – where it is, the size of it, the content of the message.

Q. Do you think technological innovations, such as a new four-color process or more flexible layouts, would convince more advertising agencies to use newspapers for image building?

A. Yes. Everything you do contributes to the image. I don’t neccessarily exclude or include newspapers as the key medium.

In this case, for Famous Grouse, it was the key medium, the only medium. We may have done more of it in newspaper, or have gone into specific magazines.

So, dependent on what your mission is, technological innovations can make it more appealing than it has been in the past.

There’s always nervousness about registration, but that’s basically been corrected.

Q. Why is it that image advertising is more prevalent in Britain and the United States than in Canada?

A. I’m not sure that’s true. If it is true, it may have to do with a variety of reasons. It may be cultural. It may have to do with budgets.

Some advertisers use tiers of advertising, they have an integrated program. One shapes the image, and the others are more tactical, or product-specific in nature, to underpin that basic positioning.

I can’t make an analogy between the u.k. and Canada and I’m not even sure your premise is correct, but our budgets are in the neighborhood of 1/10th of what they are in the u.s.

It forces us to be focussed in the message. Sometimes we have clients request we put a lot more in a television commercial or in a newspaper ad than we would like.

Q. People in the newspaper industry have said that one of the main reasons that a lot of creative directors don’t use newspapers for image advertising is because it’s harder to be creative in newspapers. What do you say to that?

A My answer would be the example that I alluded to earlier with Volkswagen. And there are many others. That is one of the best pieces of advertising I’ve ever seen.

I think most creative people would rather do a tv commercial. Just speaking to creative people I have that perception.

But a lot of people I know like doing outdoor, and that is far more restrictive. It’s a real discipline to try and capture a message on an outdoor board.

Q. What trends do you see in image advertising?

A. I think what’s happened today in so many different categories, where it is becoming more and more difficult to be technologically superior, or offer a service that is demonstrably better than the competition, particularly in categories like financial services, or cars, there is a tendency to view the importance of customer satisfaction as uppermost in their minds, and what I call the phenomenon of ‘beyond the box.

It is as important that people respond to the company they are doing business with as the specific product they are selling.

If you have a more favorable view of that company, it can sometimes override even a competitive edge that another manufacturer may have.