Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now we're talkin' (Pam)

Okay, so the island in my kitchen is covered in all sorts of ads, web concepts and direct mail concepts. Need a break from looking at it all.

This campaign has been the most consuming of my career. It's been awhile since I lost sleep over work stuff. That's been happening for the past three weeks.

The print is now and forever solved. Done. We've added copy that really drives home the core message...WWF will do the big stuff on climate change that the average Jane can't do on her own. At the same time, it fixes the disconnect between the imagery and the call-to-action.

Like I said, it was tense times, but it's done and we're all alive. Joe Picollo read some previous posts and swears that he's never once thought of punching me right in the head. Perhaps I was projecting. Ha!

(By the way, this is what Joe says in meetings now - "Be careful what you say. She's going to write it in her blog." I've decided to write only what HE says.)

Listen to me when I say that we've got something so huge on the web side of things.

Check out our other campaign sites by FCBi, if you're interested: www.stopthenet.ca and www.donotdrill.ca

You'll see they're pretty cool. But FCBi has taken this new one right over the top with some crazy interactivity that I'm convinced will not only inspire people to donate, but will keep them coming back to the site over and over again. Colour me stupefied by how they come up with this stuff. Must be the brilliant brief we gave them.

And the direct mail. Great stuff. Right on brief, smart as hell and uses personalization in the way it was invented to be used.

In the past we've been a tad, uh, high maintenance when it comes to rounds of revisions on our direct mail. FCB Direct now has us on this coloured file folder system so that we only get three rounds of changes.

Green folder for 1st round. Yellow folder for 2nd round. Red folder for final changes.

Fairly embarrassing, when you think about it. It's like they're weening a third-grader off crack. Very strict, they need to be with us.

So direct mail creative is working it's way to the Green folder now that we've given feedback to the concept. We're working on the data right now, as well.

Waiting on the media plan. Should see that on Friday. Can't wait for that. We have very little money for media and count on the generousity of our media partners to get the creative in front of our potential donors. GM spends more in one day on media than we spend in a couple years.

That's it for now. Sorry for the long entry but there's lots goin on!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Welcome to my casting couch (Pam)

TV moves along. Have approved the casting and location specs. I love this part. You put the call out and just when you think you know what you're going to get, you get something else and it's always better.

We're shooting on December 6. Don't know where yet. Not excited about shooting in the cold of Toronto for 12 hours or so, but beggars can't be whiners.

Will be meeting with director again to review his vision one more time. I'm not exactly sure that our visions are one and the same. Would be really great to make sure we sort that out before I end up with "Scarface" when I thought we were getting "The Sound of Music," if you know what I'm saying.

Alright, alright. I'm avoiding talking about print. Still working it out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The tyranny of the clock (Bill)

The timing on Climate Change is very tight – we can’t afford to be late to market because January and February are the best DM response months and we need to raise money. But it is less than two months to air, and the creative guys have asked for more time. Pam is nervous, but she trusts us, so the stakes are high. We don’t want to let her down.

Fun, fortitude and print (Pam)

Not a good day yesterday.

Remember how I raved about the copy tweak on the print ads that had saved the day? Well, I showed the ads around my office yesterday. 11 out of 12 people don’t understand them.

Interestingly, the creative guys took the ads around FCB and found that everyone they showed totally “got” the ads.

Just goes to show you that focus groups, formal or informal, are useless for creative evaluation.

Regardless, when a dude with a Phd from Oxford can’t tell me what an ad is trying to say, something’s not working.

We’re missing the right connection between the visual and the call-to-action. Essentially, people are coming away from the ads asking, “Why are you showing me this particular picture?”

Here’s our problem. Photography is done – about $50K or so worth that we got for practically nothing. (The pictures are works of art in their own right. A visual feast. Love them, love them, love them.)

Deadline for creative is tomorrow in order to make the February magazines. This media is essentially free. It’s not an option to miss this deadline.

Creative is such a fickle thing. Its iterative nature means precisely that we’ll have these crisis moments. It’s takes the crisis to make the work better sometimes. It’s painful and frustrating and so tense. But it is necessary.

Too bad there’s no such thing as an epidural for creative development. In the meantime, you have to keep the team together and motivated. And, most importantly, having fun where you can find it.

Fortitude. That’s what’s required.

Creative guys are on it. They’ll crack it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Am....so...ver...y...tired (Pam)

Gave feedback to the TV script today. Am intellectually spent. Can’t write.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

TV moves forward (Pam)

Met the TV producer and the director (on the phone because he’s in Los Angeles) to discuss the director’s vision and give some inputs on casting, location, treatment, etc.

I am endlessly amazed and honestly humbled that so many incredibly talented people want to work with WWF-Canada. We are the beneficiaries of some of the country’s (and the world’s in the case of this spot and the last one we did) best talents. These people make no money on our work. They do it anyway.

Oh! And I found out that Ted Rosnick is going to do our music and audio…AGAIN. He’s done our last three spots. Too generous. I love Ted.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blown Away (Bill)

We were blown away by the success of the WWF ANWR program. For a ridiculously small budget, we delivered a campaign that achieved doubled our objectives. It speaks not only to the power of a well-integrated campaign, but more importantly we think, to the power of an emotional appeal.

I think we bettered ourselves on the Bycatch campaign, the program highlighting the issues associated with over-fishing on the Grand Banks. Somehow we lucked into a couple of hot young Directors from Germany who were willing to fly to Vancouver Aquarium for us. But the magic was delivered after they headed home. These two guys computer generated the entire contents of the tank – a dolphin, fish, coral, a turtle. We held our breath until we saw the fine-cut because the idea sounded great on paper, but none of us had ever done this much CGI. People are blown away when they find out we shot an empty tank.

Friday, November 11, 2005

More print "discussions" (Pam)

More arguing…pardon me, I mean, spirited debate…over the copy on the print ads. I’m so tired. So very tired.

It was an intense meeting. I was still having problems with the copy on the ads. I gave feedback that the creative guys weren’t particularly liking. There was a point in the meeting where I almost torpedoed the print concept altogether.

Joe Piccolo, the senior writer on the business, was apoplectic but did a good job of controlling himself. Very professional, as always, but pissed off nonetheless. It’s funny to watch him when he gets angry with me. I can see he wants to punch me right in the head, but he knows that I’d just get up and repeat myself.

Chris Taciuk, Joe’s writing partner, always the voice of reason and referee between Joe and I, suggested that another half-hour of concentrated effort would resolve my issues. (Chris wears these weird covers on his shoes…whitey tighties for running shoes. He thinks they’re cool. They’re not.)

Needless to say, I was completely dubious. Afterall, they’d just finished telling me that they’d spent countless hours and the current state of copy was the best there was in the offing.

So, they took their extra half-hour.

I worked on my budgets.

I answered some emails.

I drank some Diet Coke.

I went back into the meeting room and, holy guacamole, they did it. They came up with an ingenious tweak that saved the entire concept.

God, they’re good. I am SO relieved. I can get behind the print concept now. Great way to start a weekend…confident that this stuff is coming together. At least for now.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Print payoff (Pam)

Apparently, I was wrong. Apparently, ads that are too smart are good.

If you’ve seen the TV concept that we chose, you know that basically, the story we’re telling is that climate change is a monster thing that an individual can’t solve on his or her own. That’s where WWF-Canada, with our ability to partner with local people, businesses and governments at every level, comes in. We can tackle the big stuff.

Well, the print essentially takes this same approach, but in different way. I’ll throw a preview of the ad up as soon as I get something that would make sense to you.

Anyway, it takes a lot of thinking to get the pay off for the ads. Once you get it, it’s worth the effort. But, are people going to make the effort? The creative guys say emphatically, “YES!”

We’re betting on them being right. They have to be right. The stuff is very smart and says exactly what we need it to say. This is a test of my faith in the idea that people can respond to advertising that makes them think.

Repositioning the Brand (Bill)

We were hired to help WWF completely reposition themselves. People who know what this organization really does; think they’re the best kept secret in the country. The problem is, nobody really knows what they do. We sent an intern to the corner of Yonge and Eglinton with a camcorder and some cue cards to see what people thought of when they saw the famous panda logo along and the WWF word-mark. Out of more than twenty people, we got about 2 right answers. From the others, we got blank stares, something about saving animals, or the “Wrestling Federation.” One woman who claimed to be a donor didn't even know what WWF was really all about.

What we discovered when we started working with WWF was an organization of scientists, marine biologists and world-renowned environmentalists spending 95 cents of every dollar raised in Canada to conserve natural spaces in Canada. And a leadership team and Board of Directors that would make a Fortune 500 company jealous. If these guys can get WWF on the map, nobody can.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Contemplating Concepts (Pam)

Forgive me, gentle reader, for my lapse in corresponding. I’ve been in the midst of concept debate.

This is a long story, so allow me to begin at the beginning.

Some time ago, I don’t recall the day, we were presented with three TV concepts and 2 print concepts. I’m sure there are some instructions somewhere to tell you where to click to see each of the concepts.

(Reader’s Note: Should you care to understand what you’re about to read, you should probably check out the concepts, cause I don’t have the fortitude, nor the skill, to describe these concepts on my own here.)

So, Concept #1 didn’t get very far, as the net take-away seemed to be that throwing money at the climate change problem would solve it. If you read the concept fully through, you’ll see that the copy doesn’t say that, but the imagery is so powerful that, really, that’s what the consumer would be left with. Alas, Concept #1 was poo-pooed.

Then we were left with two.

Concept #2…the infamous Gas Station script. This was the concept that we chose. It is radical. It is funny. It’s brilliant. It will be talked about.

Concept #3…the Picket Fence Summit, as we’re affectionately calling it these days. We did not select this concept, even though it brilliantly illustrates exactly what WWF-Canada does. Regretfully, we bid adieu this brainy concept in favour of the sexy, funny Gas Station.

And then we slept on it.

Then we had doubts that seemed to grow with the passing of the hours.

And then we slept on it again.

And then we killed it. All of us. Agency and client together.

It’s risky. Too risky. We’re not afraid of risk. We’re not even afraid of being too risky. Thing is, if we’re going to put out our necks, we’re going to do it on a conservation issue, not on something that has nothing to do with our work.

Many, many hours of tense deliberations brought us back to the Picket Fence Summit. It lives.

Trick is that that print concepts that were presented aren’t working. At least that’s my position. Turns out that the creative guys don’t agree with me. They rarely agree with me. They wear me down with all their clever arguments.

Here’s the thing. When you work with smart people, you get smart work. The problem is that it’s a very painful and frustrating process. Sometimes, when I’m feeling very weak and tired, I silently wish that I was working with stupid people. My life would be easier. I could just boss them around and get my way and not be so tired mentally. But then where would we be?

So, at 3:00 pm today, I get to listen to the creative guys tell me why I’m so wrong about the print concepts. Truth be told, I do hope I’m wrong, cause we are seriously behind schedule and going back to the drawing board will screw us up large.

WE WILL NOT BE LATE WITH THIS CAMPAIGN. (I figure if I say this enough times, and loudly and bitchy enough, it will be true.)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Concepts & briefs

The concepts and briefs can be found here:

Climate Change Creative Brief

Concept 1

Concept 2

Concept 3

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Round 3 (Bill)

We went from a stand still to a sprint five months ago, and we haven’t slowed since.
Our Agency turned the first WWF program, for the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, around from brief to shipping materials, in 6 weeks. We barely caught our breath and delivered the Bycatch campaign. Both covered literally every medium – tv, a microsite, online advertising, a viral email campaign, national and local newspapers, magazines, urban weeklies, commuter papers, interior transit, TSAs, radio, pixel boards – even the euphemistically named “silver boxes.” And for Bycatch we threw in a direct mail appeal, a DM membership drive, and another entirely separate integrated campaign for WWF's annual “Adoption” program. We have never worked harder, and we have never been part of better work.