Iconic Brands Revisited With a Boost From Technology

Last night I showed students in my Advertising Copy & Design class a video that I’ve seen a number of times, now, but that continues to both delight and amaze me. It’s Google’s “Project Re: Brief” which tells the story of four classic advertisements and how their original creators teamed up with today’s new breed of advertising professionals–and some technical experts–to create some truly amazing advertisements. The iconic spots they recreated were:

  • CocaCola – “I’d like to teach the world to sing.”
  • Avis – “We try harder.”
  • Alka-Seltzer – “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”
  • Volv0 – “Drive it like you hate it.”

What this collection of brilliant minds from yesterday and today do is truly amazing. But, as amazing as it is and as in awe as I am of what these people were able to do, some key points stood out in my mind that I think are pertinent to all of us, but particularly to those of us in the marketing industry:

  • As several of those in the video emphasize, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the idea. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to use technology just for the sake of using technology. Technology is a means to an end, not an end on its own.
  • Despite amazing technology that can help us do wondrous things, the reach of those things is far more limited than in the “old days.” As one ad guru noted, ‘back in the day” you would run a television ad on the three networks and pretty much reach “everybody.” The option to reach “everybody” that readily simply doesn’t exist any more.
  • We can’t just “go to them any more” – we need to draw them to us.

Related to that last point, when I asked the class which of these newly created spots they had seen previously, only the CocaCola spot was mentioned. I, truth be told, had not seen any of the new spots and only three of the old (I’d never seen the original Volvo ad.) If you watch the video you’ll quickly see how that might be problematic. I’m guessing that the companies involved spent significant funds to create these “ads.” The companies involved can afford it. Most companies I work with can’t. Bottom line: in an era where we no longer have ready access to a captive market we need to be increasingly more creative, more thoughtful and more planful about how we actually connect and compel the audiences that we need to reach.

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