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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : July August 2008
T HE IND UST RY can’t imagine who would sign up, because we have a lot to lose,” says Eastwood. Of course, not e veryone joined in The Gruen Transfer love-fest. Denton says some of the backlash from the public has been quite pre- dictable, stemming from the opin- ion that the ABC shouldn’t h ave anyt hing to do with advertising, ever: “I support that as far as the ABC should never carry adverti s- ing, but it is almost at the heart of the ABC’s function to look at the places other people won’t look. That was a very predictable reac- tion, that somehow even to discuss advertising was to somehow taint the ABC. There are some people who s ugg es ted the s how was a Trojan Horse to ge t advertising on the ABC, which I think is hilarious- ly misguided, but some people also think the World Trade Center was brought down by the CIA,” says Denton. Peter Biggs, managing director of Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, is amon g the show’ s critics on the basis that i t has made dealing with clients harder. “I do applaud the show, it’s great a clip sh ow abo ut ads, but was going behind that shop window that people are lo oking a t e veryday, I think we d id tap in to someth ing that peop le t hink abou t, pe rhaps more than people realized.” Sampson’s favour ite moment on the show was when they showed the chilling Emma Thompson commer- cial wher e she is protesting against human tra ffick ing: “Peo ple were having a good time, l aughing unt il the film be gan. It was as if the air was sucked out of the room – dead still sile nce. All I could h ear w as someone crying softly somewhere in the audience. It was hard for Wil to start up the conversation after that – it was even ha rder t o light en things up,” he says. Howcrof t’s favo urite part o f the show is the pitch wh ere two agen - cies compete for the Gruen trophy by responding to impossible briefs, such as se lling whal e m eat , t he return of child labour, a call to arms for A us trali a to invad e New Zea land and an anti -Aus tral ian tourism campaign. “To see the amazing talent of our industry and to see it being pointed in a ny direc tio n and to deli ver something persuasive is something I really enjoyed. I also enjoy watching just how fas t Wil And erson is. There’s s ome reall y good li ght - hearted mo ments i n most shows where we are able to laugh at our- selv es an d e njoy what we are doing,” says Howcroft. He hopes that in the second series more of the superstars of the busi - ness ge t involved in the s how and do the pitch. Howcrof t admits that it was n’t 20 CAMP AI GN B RIEF until he turned up to the pi lot did he realise how seriously the AB C was taking it: “It was a real set, and there was a large cr ew an d lots of cameras and it was at t hat point I realised that yes, it was a very seri- ous effort undertaken by the ABC. I knew that it was a serious effort by Zapruder but when we turned up, I was quite taken aback by the sheer investment they were making.” He admi ts t hat it was ner ve- wracking at first, then very interest- ing to see the production of a televi- sion show and the incredible effort that goes into making it work. Some of hi s init ial ner ves stemmed from the risk of upsetting clients through an off-the-cuff com- ment, but he’s been reassured. “They have taken it for what it is – entertainment – and a good di scus- sion to have. I’ ve had no ne gative discuss ions with any cl ients, t hey have really enjoyed it. That’s what the y t ell me, an yway,” says Howcroft. National creat ive dire cto r/v ice chairman of DDB, Matt Eastwood, a panelist for three episodes, admits that he really loved being on televi- sion and alwa ys got t o th e end of the taping having enjoyed the con - versation he ’d had. However , h e doesn ’t expect a lot of spin- off shows to come from T he G ruen Transfer: “The only reason I agreed to get involved was I kn ew Denton wasn’t setting out to m ake us look li ke a bunch of idiot s, t hat he wasn’t going to put me in c ompro- mising situations wi th my c lients and that is the only reason the show is a success. If anyone tries to do a spin-off without that in tention, I public entertainment, but I think the industry has to be very careful of being lured into an obsession with public entertainment and then find itself in a bind when it contin- ues to be regarded as not as serious as it should be,” he says. Biggs says this view is shared with The most gratifying approach to Sampson [above] was from a teacher from Western Sydney who said she was so inspired by the show that she has added it to the school curriculum for 270 schools. He’s also been getting requests for public speaking engagements from big corpo rations to charity movements, including the Himalayan Foundation who he’s now working with – it’s a perfect fit as Sampson is an avid climber and has reached the summit of Mt Everest. - a number of his colleagues in the industry and a large number of peo- ple on the client side. As for its pote ntial as a r ecruiting tool, he says the issue is to get the right type of talent: “It’s great that people are interested and engaged with adver- tising, but if they think advertising actually happens the way it does on the show then the people coming into advertising because of the show are in for a rude shock. Agencies are hardworking, rigorous, disci- plined places, or at least Clemenger Melbourne is,” says Biggs. “It becomes extremely difficult, in my view, when we are trying to sell the value of an advertising agency, which usually adds huge value to clients, and then t ry and get them to pay for tha t value when they see ads scammed up, and very quick and glib comments made on the show. The industry possibly only has itself to blame if it’s not further up the value chain and not being invited into the boardroom.” While Clemenger staff were not banned outright from going on the show, Biggs s ays they realised it would be disingenuous to release its people to go on the show given management’s view. Within the industry there was also the sense that some of the usual suspects – particularly high profile creative directors – weren’t part of the show. “The interesting thing is Denton didn’t know ‘who was who’ and he didn’t really care,” says Sampson. “As far as they were concerned we were all equals wh en we walk ed into the room. They ar e real ly JU L Y /AUGU ST 2 0 08
May June 2008