Advertising creativity and the things that happen in supermarket aisles

“What if…?”

It’s the question that all good advertising creatives have to be able to answer. When confronted with a selling proposition for a product or service, they ask themselves what would happen if they took the idea to extremes. It’s in this zone that agency copywriters and art directors are at their most deadly and most innovative. It’s here that they really earn their inflated salaries.

A good example would be the notion that the Danes love Carlsberg. On its own, the proposition is nothing special. But when you take it to its logical conclusion, the idea suddenly finds a new lease of life. If the Danes love Carlsberg so much, how might their adoration manifest itself? Perhaps they would marry the lager or send it love letters? Maybe they’d treat the brew with special care and attention? Alternatively, they might react angrily to the idea of anyone taking it out of their country. This latter twist was translated into some great television advertising. Once you’ve taken the idea to its limits, the scripts start writing themselves.

The latest Lynx campaign by BBH is also a great example of a proposition being worked through to its logical conclusion. A young couple wake up after a night of passion and retrace their steps. They find their underwear in the apartment, but have to wander the streets to pick up other items of clothing. Clearly they’d been undressing each other en route to their love nest. Eventually we arrive in a supermarket. Two trolleys have been left unattended, along with the couple’s footwear. We’ve travelled back in time to the moment they first met. The idea is that you never know when you might need your Lynx. It’s beautifully art directed, to be sure, by Nick Gill. But it’s the leap of logic in the concept that makes it an exceptional piece of advertising.

I hope it brought the client out in a sweat.

© Phil Woodford, 2004. All rights reserved.

Phil Woodford is a creative director at a London-based advertising agency and a lecturer in advertising theory.