Cross-country check-up

To get a reading on the O-O-H that's turning heads across the country, Strategy asked agency types to wander outside and tell us what they thought of what they saw....

To get a reading on the O-O-H that’s turning heads across the country, Strategy asked agency types to wander outside and tell us what they thought of what they saw.

Tom Murphy

Creative Director

Target Marketing & Communications, St. John’s Nfld.

Most effective

Nestlé Kit Kat

‘This side up,’

‘The single is great,’ etc.

Great campaign. Distinctive, compelling, and memorable. It definitely cuts through the clutter. The writing – ‘The single is great…The album sucks,’ ‘This side up,’ and ‘Your weeds are coming in nicely’ – is smart with a nice attitude. It rewards the reader, and creates a strong connection with the consumer. The art direction is bold, clean, and simple.

The use of the packaging elements to reinforce the brand is right on the money. The typography is handled in a way that gets the message across at highway speeds. The posting locations are in high-traffic, high-visibility areas.

Spark gap rating: perfect.

Least effective

Sympatico Internet/Newtel ‘Untapped potential’ – keyboard propping open window

I’m confused by this board. It appears to follow the tradition of billboard design – single, bold image and a short, simple message. However, due to the obscurity of the image and the ambiguity of the headline, it falls short of clarity. To expect your audience to decipher this billboard’s message while barrelling down a four-lane highway is a real stretch. Posting locations are good, but in this case I’m not sure if that helps.

Spark gap rating: poor.

Worst timing

Nestlé Drumstick

Big Drumstick cone with bite out of it

This critique isn’t about the Nestlé Drumstick creative – it’s about timing and location. The fact is that St. John’s is still reeling from a record-breaking winter that dumped more than 20 feet of snow. So we’re not quite ready for the frozen treat category.

John Terry

Senior Art Director

BBDO, Toronto

Most effective

Flow 93.5

Volume display, dred cables, record

Without using a single word, these boards clearly define what kind of music and attitude this station is all about. It delivers its message quickly and isn’t edgy just for the sake of being edgy. These boards tell me that this station knows its audience, and more importantly, how to get its attention. On the subway, where radio advertising is everywhere, these boards really stand out. They have managed to make the message relevant to the target.

Outdoor can be dangerous. Anyone can come into contact with it, so there’s a risk of offending people. But it also gives you the opportunity to really connect with the people you’re trying to talk to. These boards have managed to walk a fine line: they’re edgy but they’re smart.

It’s refreshing to see an ad for a radio station that’s so simple. Most stations just plaster their boards with photos of the latest pop sensation or details about how to win tickets to see some boy band.

Least effective

Home and Garden TV

Light bulb bush, etc.

These boards are just too busy. Plus the concept is a tired one. This station is focused so why isn’t its advertising? And the use of the light bulb over and over again doesn’t say much for a station that prides itself on the diversity of its programming. In fact, it seems to say that all its programs are exactly the same. I don’t watch this station and these boards don’t convince me I should.

Most alluring

Northbound Leather

You lick ‘em, you bought ‘em

‘You lick ‘em, you bought ‘em’ shoe ad. A simple sign sitting inside the shop window of a unique store that talks directly to people interested in this sort of thing. Heck, it’s interesting enough that it might just convince you it’s your thing.

Mark Szabo

Account Director

Parallel, Calgary

Weakest call to action

Adecco Employment Services

‘Fit is Everything’ – peanut butter and straw

This campaignable idea tries to treat the target as if they have a few brain cells. The attempt is appreciated, but I have a few nits to pick.

At first blush, the strategy to own ‘fit’ seems sound enough – especially in the age of online resumé broadcasting. From the creative idea we know that the client understands the importance of fit. But anyone who’s ever had a job understands that. It would have been much more powerful to see an idea that planted their unique way of achieving fit for their customers.

This feels like a first generation idea that could apply to just about any product. Artificial juxtaposition, poorly applied to the service in question.

A few tweaks to this execution would have been welcome. The call to action is very thin. Lastly, the peanut butter execution is way too hard to read from a billboard. The other executions in this campaign were a much quicker read, and they still maintained the spark gap. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much on the other side of the gap.

Most thoughtless

A&W Chubby Chicken

‘Same Recipe, Same Taste’

Tough assignment. How do you get chicken back on the radar screen at a place known for burgers? One way is to throw lots of money at an awareness campaign, put a chicken mascot in it, make sure they know it’s your company, and get ready for the masses at your doorstep. Another way might have been to give the masses a compelling reason to rekindle their relationship with the product – or discover it anew – and then use some clever executions to plant the idea.

I’m sure this is generating purchase intent, which is the main point. I am certainly on notice that A&W has chicken, and I might even try it out if I happen to be there. My only beef is that they could have done more for my relationship with the brand. As it is, I don’t have much reason to care about the product or feel better about A&W. Since they clearly aren’t putting much thought into me, I am probably going to end up reciprocating.

Randy Stein

Creative Director

Palmer Jarvis DDB, Vancouver

Most effective

Telus Mobility duck in envelope advertising wireless e-mail

There’s not really much to say here. This is simply good outdoor. Telus Mobility (formerly Clearnet) has done a great job of standing out in a cluttered wireless phone category. Lots of white space, simple messages, and you can recognize a Telus Mobility billboard from a mile away. All that and I’m rewarded with a smile. Well done.

Least effective

Nestlé Kit Kat

The ‘R’ Word

The recession is here, so maybe I should have a Kit Kat. I don’t really get it. I understand what the campaign is trying to accomplish, and I think it’s come a long way from its first round of executions (‘Give me a Sally, Geraldo, Oprah Break’ – or something like that). I just have to believe there’s a simpler way to attack this strategy.

But I will give credit where credit is due – they have created a look that is distinct. One of the measures of a good outdoor campaign should be whether or not you know what the brand/product is before you’re close enough to read the words. With this campaign, they’ve achieved that. I recognize the Kit Kat campaign from a mile away. I just wish that once I recognized it, I’d look forward to getting there. Maybe I just need a Kit Kat.

Most disappointing


‘Everything tastes better with Coke’ – hamburgers on a grill

There’s nothing wrong with this campaign. It’s simple outdoor, with a simple message. As outdoor goes, it works. I guess I just expect more from one of the world’s greatest brands. Hamburgers go better with Coke. Pizza goes better with Coke. I get it, but it doesn’t really provoke an emotion. I wish Coke would dig a little deeper and really reward me with a great insight. While it’s solid outdoor, and better than 80% of the outdoor around town, I just can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed.