"Keep your brand values at heart but express them differently and at times shockingly."
This was the message imparted by advertising ace Dan Weiden at the 'Eye on Consumer, Eye on Media' seminar organised on the occasion of the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Media Research Users Council (MRUC) on February 4 in Mumbai.
Creatives, suits, brand managers, media gurus were all there to hear the creator of the famous Nike tagline - 'Just do it' - share his experiences on brand-building and the changing scenario of brand-customer relationships.
Nike, the flagship brand of Weiden & Kennedy, the Portland-based ad agency founded by Dan Weiden and David Kennedy, was the first topic of discussion. Nike was the one of the coolest brands of the '80s, thanks to some mind-blowing creative work done by Weiden & Kennedy. 'Just do it' was part of pop culture goading athletes, youngsters, old men to move on.
Into the '90s, and precisely in1992, the brand took a beating. Its cool ratings were down and the gap between rivals was getting shorter. That's when Weiden & Kennedy decided to launch their new advertising campaign. Before that, however, both the client and the agency undertook a joint research exercise.
The purpose was to understand the mindset of kids in the US. Two guys from the agency and five from the client's end took a bus and visited 40 cities in the US talking and interviewing 187 kids.
The result was a campaign that had a "bigger story to tell outside the 30/60-second slot". At the same time, Weiden & Kennedy helped broadbase Nike's appeal by addressing women athletes in the famous 'You were born a daughter' campaign. In parallel, to keep the momentum going on-ground, especially amongst the brand's core target group, namely, basketball players, tournaments called 'Battlegrounds' were organised every year.
Into the twenty-first century, the agency decided to fuse music and basketball in a novel "freestyle" video that was part of the NBA (National Basketball Association) telecast of 2001. The 60-second commercial shows footage of basketball players showing off their moves to a musical soundtrack derived from the sounds of the game.
The result of the sustained effort was that the brand picked up ratings over the years.
Another instance of superlative advertising presented by Weiden was for brand Honda Accord. Unlike in the US, Honda cars were not preferred in the UK, paling in front of chic European rivals. In 2003 came the brilliant 'Cog' commercial, which turned the fortunes of the brand, and won a lot of awards for the agency.
The commercial is a study in synchronisation, where different parts of the car move with clockwork precision to highlight its 'technical excellence'. Shot in real-time for 120 seconds, the commercial took 606 takes to achieve that level of finesse that characterises it as great advertising.
The third case study presented by Weiden was in connection with Japanese beer brand Namashibori. The company Sapporo Breweries was looking to launch the product, and wanted a "unique and fresh experience" to accompany it. To help propagate the brand, Weiden & Kennedy launched a website namashibori.com, where live internet programming ran everyday for a year.
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