Spotlight on…Newspaper Creative

This being an Olympic year, I decided to institute the Olympics of newspaper advertising. You know, take ads from papers around the world (all appearing on the same day - level playing field and all that) and let them go head-to-head...

This being an Olympic year, I decided to institute the Olympics of newspaper advertising. You know, take ads from papers around the world (all appearing on the same day – level playing field and all that) and let them go head-to-head for gold, silver and bronze.

A noble experiment. And a bit of fun, too.

1. FRANCE: The Economist

Gold. The translation of the line goes "Everything is not black and white." And the background colour – red – is The Economist magazine’s banner colour. In all fairness, this French ad probably wasn’t conceived in France. Rather, it’s part of a long-running campaign created by Abbott Mead Vickers Advertising in the U.K. Like every execution I’ve seen for The Economist, it is simple and to the point, but still clever. A nice effort for the French team with the English coach.

2. UK: Fiat

Bronze. This is one of the most offensive ads I’ve ever seen. But then, you have to consider where I saw it – in the London Sun. A newspaper with page three nudie girls and headlines like "Chomp chomp…Football star eats Queen’s terrier." This is not a newspaper read by women, or by men with two eyebrows. So kudos to the agency for coming up with the perfect ad for the medium. And hats off to a very, very, very brave client.

3. Germany: Wacker.com

Last place, but winner of the popularity contest. Hey, every Olympics has its Jamaican bobsled team, its Eddie the Eagle. This is the Eddie of our newspaper Olympics – an ad by a client who loved his name and had no idea that the paper was distributed outside the Vaterland. This ad begs the eternal question: If Wacker didn’t know how to get off a horse, would you help Wacker off?

4. US: Pocket PC

Disqualified after steroid testing. I hate ads that crap on the competition. This one’s big, brutish, unsportsmanlike and probably has gun-toting fans with the Stars and Stripes painted on their faces. I hate it.

5. CANADA: Project ‘P’

Bronze. You just can’t write a better headline than "Take your penis to the gym." However, I did find the art direction a bit lacking and the copy all over the place. Top marks for originality, but undisciplined. I expect if the penis buckles down and spends more time at the gym, we’ll see him going for gold at the next Olympics.

Also in this report:

- Flying blind: Without knowing the answers to some pretty fundamental questions about newspaper readership, media buyers are forced to make their decisions based on assumptions, not facts. And that’s not good enough, says one expert. p.B16

- NADbank building on solid base: Newspaper readership study evolving in dynamic market p.B18

- The war: views from the sidelines: The battle of the national dailies is causing other papers to redesign, rethink their news delivery p.B20

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group