Ad of the Week: Pranking the Audience
by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Sometimes being a junior creative in an ad agency can be less about being creative and more about being, well, junior — learning the ropes, and doing useful but boring stuff. Like fetching coffee for the Art Director. So it’s really cool when junior ad people can get an opportunity to spread their creative wings.
The Cannes Young Lions does this by pitting young creatives (under 28 years of age) against each other with an annual competition that gives contestants just 48 hours to conceive and produce an ad for a mystery topic.
Locally, the competition is run by Cinemark, as official representative in SA of the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and winners will get to compete in the international competition, as well as attend the festival.
The organisers (both locally and internationally) always choose a public-service type of cause or organisation, so rather than just a creative showcase, the ads produced can actually do something that benefits society at large.
This year, being an election year, Cinemark chose to link the competition to the Independent Electoral Commission’s “I Vote SA” campaign (IXSA for short). 111 teams from agencies around the country entered this year, and the winner was the team from Johannesburg-based Joe Public — Art Director Marina Andreoli and Designer Sonia Dearling. They win a trip to Cannes to attend the Lions festival and compete against their counterparts from the rest of the world. And of course Joe Public gets to bask in their reflected glory.
The winning ad will also be shown to the public in cinemas throughout SA, according to the organisers.
Voter turnout is a worldwide problem: according to International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), it has been on the decline since the 1980s internationally. South Africa shows a marked decrease in voter registration with age — 97% of over 80-year olds registered, while less than 50% of first-time voters did so, in 2001.
This year saw registration by 80.5% of the 31.4 million people eligible to vote in the country. These are heartening figures, but statistically less than half of those registered to vote will actually make their crosses on the day.
This is a statistic that the IEC naturally would like to change, and this is the premise that Joe Public juniors chose to highlight. The idea was to target unsuspecting cinema audiences with an object lesson in apathy.
Outside the cinema there was a pop-up banner inviting people to “download the Cinemark Movie Experience App – a revolutionary way to choose your comfort levels in the cinema” – knowing full well that most people wouldn’t bother to do this. The audience would watch the commercials and trailers, until the ad played — and it would be the last commercial before the start of the movie.
I would love to be in the theatre when it does, because here’s how it plays out. Firstly text comes up on the screen, with a voice-over, reading: “Thank you for downloading the Cinemark Movie Experience App.” The next screen reads: “Please switch on your App so that you can vote for your comfort level during the movie.”
A graphic then shows on the screen, and the voice-over says, “Please vote for the house light brightness.” A number changes, while the house lights change – brighter, dimmer, brighter, dimmer, as if people are voting for it… finally it settles on 10, for maximum brightness. I don’t know about you, but I prefer absolute darkness for that ‘total immersion’ effect, so I would already be irritated at this point.
The next screen is for choosing sound levels, and of course the gauge goes all the way up to 90% volume, and the soundtrack volume increases substantially. The next screen asks moviegoers to vote for the language of the film, with flags representing USA, France, Germany, Italy and China.
The graphic changes around, and eventually settles on German. The commentary changes to German and informs the audience of their choice, continuing (with English text on the screen) to say “Thank you for making your choices. Please enjoy the movie.”
The film begins — a fairly generic opening montage with a boat sailing over the sea, and a male German voice-over giving commentary. I’m pretty sure by this stage I would be halfway out the door. After a few seconds, though, the movie stops, and a title flashes on the screen: “If you don’t vote, you will have to live with someone else’s choices. Don’t let that happen. Vote on the 7th of May” — followed by the logo of IXSA and the other ‘guilty parties’ — Cinemark and Ster-Kinekor.
South Africans aren’t prone to applaud in movie theatres, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did in this case.
The judges congratulated the producers of this ad for “boxing smart” — not trying to replicate a R5-million budget production, but keeping it simple and direct. To me that sums it up — too often big budgets result in ads that are too ‘clever-clever’ for their own good, and the message gets lost in the noise.
Congratulations to the winners. Enjoy your trip to the French Riviera, and I’m betting on it that you’ll be bringing back the trophy.
Ad of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.
If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging,
please let Oresti know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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