Great Ideas That Nearly Didn’t Make It

Did you know that some of our most well-known, iconic, marketing campaigns were very nearly put in the bin?

Before we discuss the reasons why this can happen, let’s have a look at three examples when creative geniuses had to persuade their clients to go with an idea because they just knew they were on to a winner:

The Cadbury’s Smash Martians. The team behind the laughing bots had a battle on their hands with this one as the powers that be at Cadbury’s (before adverts were PC) believed that the ordinary housewife wouldn’t be into science-fiction. Apparently, they still weren’t sure even after testing it in front of their target audience who loved it! They tested it three times before reluctantly ‘going with it’.

The Cadbury’s drum playing ‘Gorilla’ advert. You’d have thought that the chocolate brand would have learned to listen and trust their creative teams by now, wouldn’t you? Sadly, that appears not to be the case, as once again the creatives back in 2007 had to push through their idea, a captivating concept of a gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins’ classic, ‘In The Air Tonight’.

I mean, how hard can it be to persuade a room full of businessmen that an advert with no dialogue and no mention of chocolate, just a staggeringly life-like robotic gorilla playing the drums would work?

It took 6 months to finally get the decision makers to run with it!

The lead creative behind this idea was Juan Cabral. This is how the lead decision maker responded after that first pitch, “Oh, that’s sh*t. Juan that’s really bad, I don’t like it at all – it’s a three out of 10”. The idea at this stage was looking like it was destined for the bin.

Cabral had to argue questions like this one, “so you want to make an ad three times longer than a normal ad, that doesn’t feature chocolate and there’s no message?” Erm, yes, yes I do. Cabral was determined not to let this opportunity pass Cadbury’s by and stuck to his guns.

Let’s fast forward that gruelling 6 months between the awkward pitch to when the ad finally got aired. Cadbury saw a 10% boost in sales almost overnight, the ad won stacks of awards and it’s still one of the most memorable adverts ever made.

Plus, ‘In The Air Tonight’ shot to number one instantly. Even on the radio listening to music, there was no escaping the success of the advert.

Heineken’s famous slogan. We are all familiar with the phrase, ‘refreshes the parts that other beers cannot reach.’ When we hear these words, we instantly recognise them and make the connection with the Heineken brand. Funny enough, the decision makers were very hesitant about this strapline – it was all down to the bravery of the creative team behind it to push it out into the world.

Frank Lowe, the creator of the Heineken strapline famously said, ‘Show me a great campaign and I’ll show you a great client.’ Well said that man, a client that trusts that their creative team has their best interest at heart is golden! But I guess that trust has to be earned.

Why does this happen?

Sometimes, it’s down to cost or there’s a concern that the concept is too different from the usual message. But if you work with an agency that you trust implicitly, then you should be assured that when they put forward an idea, it’s because they genuinely believe it’s because you’ll see a great return for your money. You’ve got to speculate to accumulate right – and believe me when I say that listening to the advice of your creative team is very rarely a gamble.

To grab the attention of customers and to attract new ones sometimes you have to go bold and try something completely new. Fresh ideas and daring concepts are a cure for marketing blindness that’s for sure.

We think a lot of it comes down to a business owner or the decision makers to be brave enough to let go of control. There’s a reason why we all have different roles – it’s because our talents vary.

You do what you’re great at – and we’ll do the same.

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