There’s a lot about marketing that I love. This campaign from the guys that do the CLIO Awards is not one of them. Not only do I absolutely hate it, I’m embarrassed by it. This is easily the single most out of touch campaign I’ve ever seen.
I get it, I really do. The ads are trying to speak to the creative folks behind making Super Bowl (or other big event) pieces. Sadly, it probably does a good job of doing so, which really says a lot about the people who create these campaigns. This is easily one of the most elitist campaigns I’ve ever seen (and believe me, I’ve seen my fair share of elitist campaigns and behavior).
The goal for any marketer or creative director should be to create ads that speak to their core audience. CLIO makes a complete mockery of this concept, basically saying that their awards are more important than what some person in Middle America thinks. Take the “Phil from Iowa” ad for example. The Creative Director thinks he/she has created a great ad, but Phil thinks it “needs more monkeys” (basically CLIO’s way of saying that the customer doesn’t “get it”).
So here’s the thing. If Phil from Iowa is representative of your core customer base and he wants more monkeys, give him more fucking monkeys. We should be designing our campaigns in a way that maximizes the potential for creating a lasting brand impression and an emotional response. Hipster Bob the Creative Director might say that the campaign doesn’t speak to him and that is completely fine.
The campaign shouldn’t speak to the Creative Director unless the Creative Director is part of the target market (which is rarely the case, especially with mass market products). What CLIO is doing here is telling their target audience that a CLIO award is more important than sales. This campaign makes the statement that only other creatives have the ability to judge whether or not an ad is “good”.
CLIO is far more interested in bleeding edge pieces that don’t speak to anyone instead of campaigns that they probably see as pandering to the “lowest common denominator”. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather have a populist campaign that generates millions of dollars in sales and creates an emotional response over some pretty, slick, bleeding edge campaign that is made to make CLIO judges pitch a tent.
The thing that disgusts me the most though is how these opinions have changed over the years. In 1984, this ad won a CLIO:
Pretty sure that today’s CLIO voters and the good folks who came up with CLIO’s elitist campaign would have crapped all over it. Call me naive, but I’ve always felt that an ad that doesn’t connect with customers is a failure regardless of how pretty it looks. I guess I won’t be nominated anytime soon.
Advertising Agency: McCann, New York, USA
Executive Creative Directors: Bill Wright, James Dawson-Hollis
Art Director: Coleman Davis
Copywriter: Lex Singer
Designer: Shelby Hipol
Photography: Getty Images
Senior Integrated Producer: Deb Archambault
Senior Project Manager: Debbie Fried
Project Manager: Alex Goldklang
Account Director: Eric Monnet
Print Producer: April Gallo
Graphic Artist: Jessica Hall
PrePress Manager: Scott Sisson
Retouchers: Bert Seva, Yana Fox, Franco Casas
Proofreaders: Dan Barron, Kayley Scott, Larry Webber
Published: January 2015