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Nick Roope, creative director and founding partner, Poke London

There’s a whole lot to hate about T-Mobile’s Dance (nma 4 June 2009), a video so disingenuous to the web culture it references. There’s a part of me that puts it in the same box as the Berocca ad with the treadmillers, more than slightly reminiscent and far less charismatic than the original OK GO YouTube smash. With the T-Mobile video the fakery is so unnecessary because we all know it could have been real so easily.

But you know what? If you’re not careful, like me you’ll fall into the trap of thinking this deems the work ‘not good’. And really it’s quite to the contrary. It’s outstanding. So rarely has something like this really cut through and inspired so many ordinary people. While they need interpretation, the 15m YouTube views tells you something. People were thrilled by it and they shared their enthusiasm like the Milky Bar Kid handing out white-chocolate bars.

Beyond the sheer weight of the figures, the web-based video told a deeper story of the event and let viewers dwell on the action that the TV spots only glimpsed or referenced. With so-called ‘integrated’ advertising, the lion’s share still resolves everything in the ad itself, leaving nothing to discover in the other campaign components and so, of course, the public don’t bother. This worked differently, seemingly pouring viewers down a funnel, fuelled by their own intrigue and excitement from the thin, fast TV experience into the free, deep and shared web one. In short, the way it should be if you like the loud sound of bang from your buck.

There’s another point too that tries to make me like it like a little yappy puppy tugging at my flared trouser leg. It’s the fact it communicates an emotional message really effectively. Every one of those viewers got a feeling of togetherness and collaboration, and every time they shared their passion for it they experienced a little piece of social magic themselves, which simply builds on this initial feeling but also makes it real.
To summarise then, I hate nearly everything about Dance, apart from the fact it works really well, does a great, progressive, integrated job at building smartly around a very simple yet compelling idea, and manages not only to crank up some pretty impressive numbers but also touch each and every one of those viewers.

The TalkTalk Brightdancing piece (nma 3 September 2009) I genuinely like a lot more. It uses real people who generate real things that are shown without a whole lot of interference. It makes me feel like TalkTalk has some respectful feelings for me because it’s letting other punters fill a few seconds of valuable airtime with their scrappy doodles rather than TalkTalk’s own messages. It makes me feel warm and want to discover what TalkTalk actually does so I can start doing it.

Samsung’s Extreme Sheep LED Art video (nma 7 May 2009) was also a YouTube hit, so the public were clearly excited to see the woolly beasts doing a One Man and his Dog meets synchronised swimming meets the Oxford Street Christmas illuminations. The fakery is easier to spot here but it doesn’t seem to have killed interest. The thing that stops this grabbing the top spot is that the takeout is a little tenuous. If I were the client I wouldn’t be complaining at all, but compared to Dance it’s not as rich or direct.

I end with Compare the Meerkat (nma 5 February 2009), a campaign I despise with every hating cell I possess, and only more so because it works so well. I look at this and the first thing I fear is clients now insisting, “I want one of those!” What is it with the ‘annoy people’ strategy when it comes to selling insurance? But the reasonable, value respecting part of this creative director can see something here that works very well. Damn!


Published 17 December, 2009 by NMA Staff

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