At the circus, there’s a certain pressure to create work that would never fly in the real world. The phrase, “the client would never buy that,” has become something of a badge of honor amongst us freaks, a badge of honor which I haven’t had the pleasure of fastening to my plaid shirt, until now.
It started several months ago, when I was just a wee 3rd quarter, looking to do a tongue-in-cheek campaign for Shout fabric cleaner a la Some E-Cards: sarcastic lines about how nothing feels as good as getting a stain out set against stock photos of dead inside 1950’s housewives. Great, right? I thought so. My teacher did not. So there it died. Or so it seemed.
At the beginning of this, my 6th, quarter, I was asked to produce another campaign for a household item but this time, I was short an art director. So, being the resourceful lady that I am, I decided to revive my old Shout campaign and see if I couldn’t give it a little advertising make over. Long story short, the idea went over much better this time around and after a swift brand switch, ended up snowballing into something that surely would never sell: Clorox Bleach for Serial Killers.
The strategy was simple enough: Clorox gets the tough stains out, but the concept took a dark turn: Official Sponsor of the American Serial Killer Etiquette Association. Think Dexter meets June Cleaver. Basically Clorox is saying “listen, we understand that you have a dark hobby, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live an all-American, cookie-cutter lifestyle. Let us help you keep up appearances.”
So there I was, a lone copywriter with a wild idea and zero executional direction save a few slap-dash headlines and a working tag. Enter my muse, my gurl, my big idea queen, my Megan. From day one, she was onboard with making this the weirdest, creepiest, darkest campaign ever while still maintaining a simple and smart strategy that truly did sell the benefits of the product. It was a marriage made in advertising heaven. Through the endless concepting brunches, ideation margaritas, Goodwill shopping trips, copy editing and buckets of white paint I finally understood why creating a campaign that would never sell in the real world is massively important while you’re in school.
Oh, you want me to explain why? Okay, fine.
- It makes you think smarter. Not only are you trying to create something bizarre and different, you’re also trying to create something effective. Shock for shock’s sake won’t fly. You’re simultaneously thinking in a big, open, sunny field and a teeny-tiny, dark box.
- You have to build everything from scratch. And it’s awesome. Photoshopping found pics together is only marginally effective. Sure, there are some occasions where it’s preferable, but in most cases original photography/videography is key to conveying a powerful visual voice. If you’re heavily involved in this process, which you should be, it’s a crash course in on set styling and gives unteachable insight into the whole process. The cherry on top is seeing the images in your head finally come to fruition.
- It’s a seamless way to inject personality into your book. Because it’s something that will never sell and you’re not abiding by anyone else’s brief, anyone looking at your book will get a true sense of your own personal style. In my case, it’s my dark sense of humor.
I’ll leave you with that. And a huge thanks to Megan and our badass photographer, Tyler.
Peace, Love & Bleach.
To see the delightfully creepy campaign, click here.