A sign of things to come?
When I spotted the new campaign for Virgin Trains I expected something exceptional but was left feeling something was missing.
The client was keen to point out their roster of agencies on the case: Krow who created the TV spot, TMW who are credited with devising the campaign idea and Lowe Profero on digital duties. All backed up by the boys and girls at Manning Gottlieb/OMD on media planning. This is where I became confused because TMW suggest their core skill is ‘digitally led relationship marketing’ based on data skills whereas Lowe Profero are the digital designers and producers.
Confused or what? I’m not quite sure who is doing what job here.
So this suggests TMW devised the ‘Arrive Awesome’ concept and it was handed to Krow to turn into TV work. It feels to me this is one of those situations where it is tricky to define who is in charge due to too many cooks in the kitchen. Further, the ‘Arrive Awesome’ idea in the TV spot lacks a foundation as it is based on a generic customer desire rather than a reason to choose Virgin Trains.
The TV work is actually an excellent production, to be expected as it was directed by Chris Palmer of Gorgeous, but it fails to convince the viewer why Virgin Trains can deliver the promise. My guess is the client bought a bigger package from TMW where the proof is online, ie. a list of product benefits without one overarching benefit. (As an aside, the TV idea is a bit of a poor relation to the fantastic Virgin Atlantic ‘25 Years and still Red Hot’ spot.)
This all might be a good example of one of my concerns about the whole integration piece being taken too far. The danger is the various players don’t stick to their knitting and drift onto territory that isn’t their core skill. Given the luxury of a brochure and/or website it is easy to park the uncomfortable requirement to focus on one benefit because the available space allows the client and the agency to indulge in War And Peace. However with TV luxury is 60 seconds, with no room for ‘and here is another point.’
I strongly believe the biggest and best ideas remain the territory of good advertising agencies; one reason is the rigour of a rifle shot creative brief combined with the limitations of a 48-sheet poster or a 30-second TV spot. The talent involved must condense a single proposition into a compelling piece of creative execution.
I know many examples of clients referring with pride to, say, a brochure, due to it containing everything they would ideally like to say to their customers but being difficult with advertising decisions because of the limitations of the media options.
In the world of ‘integration’ I have seen examples of a client embracing the long version being developed for a website and then expecting the advertising agency to convert the idea into a TV spot. It very rarely works; it never did in the old days of direct marketing and it doesn’t today.
The names have changed to more contemporary language but the problem remains the same.