Picture the scene, an elderly relative proudly wearing their latest knitted creation. They slowly shake their head, roll their eyes and say with a disappointed exhale “where did the year go”. Well that’s the feeling writing this obligatory look back at the year, hoping to cherry pick the best marketing campaign of 2017. In the same way that the year has flown by, it didn’t take long to pick a winner either.

In my humblest of opinions, the best campaign of 2017 was first pitched in 1968, well, at least fictionally. Despite the make-believe client rejecting it in AMC’s Mad Men, “Pass The Heinz” eventually passed the real client’s approval almost 50 years later.

I realise that this was part of an extremely successful and elaborate PR stunt for Heinz, but that said, this campaign is the epitome of what’s missing from many modern day marketing… space for the consumer.

Is there a logo?
No.

Is there a product photo?
No.

Does it sell the brand?
Yes.

Does it sell the product without having to show it?
Absolutely.

Does it ask the consumer to play a part which instantly rewards them with respect?
One hundred percent!

The underlying skill of acknowledging consumer intellect is priceless. As the fictional Creative Director Don Draper says (following the client’s somewhat dismissive “it feels like half an ad”)

“The greatest thing you have working for you is not the photo you take, or the picture you paint, it’s the imagination of the consumer. They have no budget, they have no time limit, and if you can get into that space, your ad can run all day”.

Even in today’s scroll-obsessed age, commanding attention is important. But equally as vital is leaving your idea cosily snoozing in the consumer’s mind. Had “Pass the Heinz” featured the bottle or the red stuff, it wouldn’t have achieved either.

As part of a client’s ongoing content campaign, I’m a regular author on The Huffington Post, whose guidelines and standards are tougher than some Creative Director’s. And rightly so. The Huffington Post is already overwhelmed by traditional advertising, the last thing it needs is pitch after pitch in the articles (we don’t need another LinkedIn).

One of the tricks to getting product-based articles approved by the Huff Post’s Publish Police (try saying that after a few Chrimbo sherries) is earnestness. If you can make a valid and sincere proposition related to the proverbial elephant in the room (i.e. the product) that wholeheartedly resonates with the audience, it will “run all day”.

Or as Pete says at the end of the 1968 pitch
“you’ll be thinking of ketchup all day… and you didn’t even see it”

Barry Richardson is the Founder & Creative Director of
BRAVO  : :  Creative Marketing Well Done

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