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Blockbuster

B

Interviewee

48 Creative Director

Team Disadvantages

0, 3

Project Outcome

Successful

Industry

Media/Entertainment

Location

Chicago

Team Risk Tolerance

High

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_FunandProductive

Company

Blockbuster


here's one thing you want to have fun at it, maybe you want to get good at it or beat your friends or whatever, but it's really just entertainment. So somehow working on that with the client and with people in the agency, going into something that's immediately just for fun and entertainment, I think lightened everybody's take on it some. So we wanted to have more fun with it and I think we wanted to be entertaining with the work we did to get that across and Blockbuster was wanting to appeal to the gamer and show that they had all these games. We didn't test stuff. I think we just kind of trusted our guts as marketing people and also understanding the target. [3438]
there's one thing you want to have fun at it, maybe you want to get good at it or beat your friends or whatever, but it's really just entertainment. So somehow working on that with the client and with people in the agency, going into something that's immediately just for fun and entertainment, I think lightened everybody's take on it some. So we wanted to have more fun with it and I think we wanted to be entertaining with the work we did to get that across and Blockbuster was wanting to appeal to the gamer and show that they had all these games. We didn't test stuff. I think we just kind of trusted our guts as marketing people and also understanding the target. [3436],[3437]
And it just all kind of fell into place where we could be a little bit outrageous with them. They're teenagers and college students who like wicked fun anyway, and so we could be a little bit more edgy with them. Everybody kind of understood that and accepted that, and it really came together and they said for the like eight years that we had that account that we always they felt hit it out of the park, because we were so in sync with our target, the mindset, the goals of wanting to be entertaining and make the advertising seem as entertaining to them as game playing. [3439],[3440],[3441]
And it just all kind of fell into place where we could be a little bit outrageous with them. They're teenagers and college students who like wicked fun anyway, and so we could be a little bit more edgy with them. Everybody kind of understood that and accepted that, and it really came together and they said for the like eight years that we had that account that we always they felt hit it out of the park, because we were so in sync with our target, the mindset, the goals of wanting to be entertaining and make the advertising seem as entertaining to them as game playing. So it really went hand in hand like gosh, if they're that entertaining on television, they must really get me as a consumer, so I'll give them my business. I think it was one of those kinds of perfect connections that worked out very well. [3409],[3411],[3407],[3410],[3408]
It was essentially three. Two people who were in charge of the marketing and then their direct boss, and that was really it, and that helped a lot just having the two people who were really in sync and always together on stuff and always in the room together at the same time. I think when you play that protocol game and have to do, well we have to show this person first, then we have to go up the ladder to this person, I really think if you can get everybody in the same room at the same time, and the great thing about it is our boss when we first presented the work to these people, they were always in the same room together. [3412],[3413]
So it was really good. I think the more people are in on the ground floor the better. Because they're all a part of that decision from the get go as opposed to you spend months and months developing this idea and you show your boss and he goes eh. Then you've wasted three months. What good is that? [3442],[3443]
So really even though the one person then wasn't maybe as involved in the details as the head guy, he was still there on the ground floor when it came up. So everybody was like I like this, this is good, let's continue with this. Show me what I need to as details arrive on a need to know basis, but essentially you're getting them all in on the ground floor with a big idea. And then from there on the details probably fall into the hands of the people who need to handle those specific details. So it was really good. I think the more people are in on the ground floor the better. Because they're all a part of that decision from the get go as opposed to you spend months and months developing this idea and you show your boss and he goes eh. Then you've wasted three months. What good is that? [3414],[3415]
Well, there was basically me and then my boss, who was the executive creative director. So that was two on the teams that we worked on, me first and then we would take it all together to the executive creative director, and he had the final word. So again, really only two layers there, which was good too. The less layers the better. There's the big bowl of letters. [3416]
As a creative director I usually try to not have multiple teams working on it. I think it's sometimes better with ownership. So it was usually one team, but sometimes it was two. But they all had ownership of what they were doing on it then and like the team that came up with the big idea, then really sort of saw it through and that was kind of their baby through all different pieces of it. And then there were other partners who did some things online and promotions and stuff like that, but they were really kind of the team that was involved with all that, because it was their idea and they got to take it into all those different channels. [3418],[3419],[3417]
I think it's sometimes better with ownership. So it was usually one team, but sometimes it was two. But they all had ownership of what they were doing on it then and like the team that came up with the big idea, then really sort of saw it through and that was kind of their baby through all different pieces of it. [3444]
Very willing to take risks. They didn't test. They went with their gut. They were willing to be edgy. They didn't want to do anything that was gonna be sexist or racist, but they were willing to do other, edgier jokes. Whether it was somebody who was acting bipolar or parroting the lethargy of people sitting down and playing video games or even the acne kind of teen crowd. Any of that, anything goes with that. They were willing to laugh at that. Because they know that that's what the audience laughs at. So they could do it and not feel like oh my gosh, is it okay to make fun of somebody's pimples? It's like yes, this audience would laugh at that. Yes, there are some people out there who have bad acne and they probably won't laugh, but the majority of people will. So yeah, they're very risky. [3421],[3422],[3420]
It was really simple. It was to engage the gamer, Blockbuster gets them and has everything they would need. And I think that directly led to us being able to be edgy and clever by saying hey, if they get me and they know that I've got this smart alecky kind of everything's a game, I love to just screw around with this kind of world, if we can reflect that in how we communicate it to them they'd say oh wow, that's kind of my mindset or that's the kind of stuff that blows my skirt up. They get me and gosh, if they've got all the selection too, why won't I go there? As opposed to just we've got games and therefore rentals for $10.99. Maybe. Maybe the economy of that is persuasive, but I think getting into their mindset is better first, and they were willing to do that. [3445],[3446],[3423]
Very useful, yep. I think the brief means everything. I think as much as we say the creative is king, of course it is. An agency's reputation rests on that. But I don't think you can really do very good creative without a really good brief that's clear, concise, simple and tells you exactly what you're trying to say. [3424]
No, again we had quite a bit of time. Because they didn't have testing they eliminated sort of the panic out of it. A lot of times when you work in an encounter to include testing, there's always the one schedule says okay, if we get the great scores and we go into production we're right on schedule. But then there's the old well, if we don't get the good scores, then we're up against the wall a little bit and we have to sort of scramble to make sure we can still make the deadline and the air dates, even though we're got to sort of reinvent the wheel by creating new work and stuff. So eliminating testing helps I think. [3425]
I don't think people know how to respond to that. It immediately feels negativity, because it's not real and it's not a real environment. It's not how people actually consume those communications. [3447]
You also know too that it's up to the two people then to say I feel it's good. The people who know the business, Blockbuster, and the people who know the marketing, JWT. As opposed to okay, we're gonna show you a pseudo commercial that's animatic, drawings with a voice over track, this tremendously unreal environment where you're looking at it in some sort of test format and then tell me what you think of that. I don't think it's a real situation. I don't think people know how to respond to that. It immediately feels negativity, because it's not real and it's not a real environment. It's not how people actually consume those communications. [3426]
So I think if you eliminate that it's already gonna be much more positive. Because you're dealing with only really positive things trying to get the good out of it. That way you're always ready for the worst case scenario, and I think that's a wet blanket always. Some marketers would say well, then you know it's really resonating with the consumer. Well, I say bullshit to that because again, here's the other thing that is weird about our profession as advertisers. [3450],[3427],[3448],[3449]
I can't think of one other profession that puts out the pseudo version of it for you to judge the entire enchilada on. If I write a play and I want to try out this play, I've gotta do some rehearsals, cast it, put it out there on a stage and have some test audiences come and see it. With a movie maybe I don't get all the millions of dollars of special effects in, but when I do a test screening to see how it plays, it's 90% done. [3428]
Even a sitcom has to shoot the pilot before you can judge it. It sounds like we say okay, we've got a great idea for a new sitcom, and here's the script we'd like you to read or here's the storyboard of how it actually looks. Now imagine these would be real actors who will be sitting there talking. You'll have great production. [3451]
Even a sitcom has to shoot the pilot before you can judge it. It sounds like we say okay, we've got a great idea for a new sitcom, and here's the script we'd like you to read or here's the storyboard of how it actually looks. Now imagine these would be real actors who will be sitting there talking. You'll have great production. Huh? But advertisers when they test are sort of taking a very cheap and artificial track because we don't get to go out and shoot our commercial. And ours isn't as expensive as putting on a play or a sitcom pilot is a million dollars. A million dollars for half an hour. It just is. All the stars cost. A commercial, $300,000. And they don't wanna spend that, so they wanna spend only $20,000 on an animatic that sort of gives you the idea of the commercial via a film storyboard. It's kind of absurd. [3429]
It's the worst part of our business, I think. And I think it sometimes is the one thing that keeps us from being great. I said good to great and time is the difference there, I think that kind of stuff, it's a buzz kill and it takes up time that doesn't give you the time to really make the commercial work better, so you're always kind of running and gunning like having to put that into the schedule and react to that and fix things quickly. It's, I think it's probably the worst thing in our business is that kind of stuff. If they wanna test it fine, but test a real commercial, put it on TV and see how it plays. [3430],[3452]
Or imagine this chair is really plush and soft. Would you want to buy that chair? I haven't sat in that chair. I don't even know what it is. I'm just enjoying a drawing of it or something. [3431]
That's right. And here's the funny paradox of it or the catch 22, is you're entirely right. They don't. However, with DVD extras that show you how things are done, and we know how special effects are done, we know how they do things, that analogy has actually made it worse for us, because now when people look at our stuff they go "that's the cheapest animation I've ever seen, it looks terrible, that doesn't look real." It's like "it's not." It's not going to be real. [crosstalk 00:34:18]. [3453],[3432]
But I think that outsider thing allowed us to speak even more directly to them as members of the club. Like, we get it. Like our kind of smart alecky attitude in the advertising reflected their kind of smart alecky like hey, I know this is cool but I know a lot of people don't get it, including my folks. So I'm a little bit of a maverick or I'm a little bit out there as well, and wow, that allowed us to even speak their language more a little bit. Because it really wasn't mainstream. It was a little bit on the fringe, and I think our work and our mindset approaching it sort of took that attitude and ran with it. [3454]
Excellent. They wanted to laugh. When we came in it was less about oh my god did they hit these three points that I wanted to and more about are we making them laugh? Their first reaction was so critical to them, like wow, I'm responding to this as a person, not as a brand manager with my strategic hat on. So if we made them laugh, and I'm happy to say when we presented the work to them most of the time we would make them cry with laughter. [3455]
Excellent. They wanted to laugh. When we came in it was less about oh my god did they hit these three points that I wanted to and more about are we making them laugh? Their first reaction was so critical to them, like wow, I'm responding to this as a person, not as a brand manager with my strategic hat on. So if we made them laugh, and I'm happy to say when we presented the work to them most of the time we would make them cry with laughter. I mean, if we were really getting them to howl we knew we had a winner, because if we can get you to laugh, we know we're gonna get hopefully the same response from our audience, because it's funny stuff and yes we can tweak it strategically, but it's hard to grab them and get that honest emotion from them that is almost really not a thought process. It's more instinct or gut as opposed to so much over thinking the brain. [3434],[3433]
Very good. Again, I think it was all very positive because the people who worked on it were gamers and I'm a gamer and the audience, we were the audience. I think that helped. I don't think you always have to have it, but if you do it's even better. [3456],[3435]
Reference Tags
[3438] Trust,[3436] Collaborative-Creative Disposition,[3437] Win-win conflict about relationships,[3439] Collaborative-Creative Disposition,[3440] Creative Confidence,[3441] Ikea effect,[3409] Great example - Productive innovation norms,[3411] Great example - Team Dynamics,[3407] Organizing effectively,[3410] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership,[3408] Win-win conflict about ideas,[3412] Decisive leadership,[3413] Organizing effectively,[3442] Collaborative-Creative Disposition,[3443] Communicating ideas across domains,[3414] Decisive leadership,[3415] Organizing effectively,[3416] Decisive leadership,[3418] Communicating ideas across domains,[3419] Organizing effectively,[3417] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership,[3444] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership,[3421] Humor effect,[3422] Risk compensation,[3420] Trust,[3445] Creative Confidence,[3446] Empathetic disposition,[3423] Empathetic disposition,[3424] Communicating ideas across domains,[3425] Law of the instrument,[3447] Communication issues,[3426] Law of the instrument,[3450] Believes one has a hopeful path,[3427] Law of the instrument,[3448] Optimism,[3449] Organizing effectively,[3428] Law of the instrument,[3451] Methodologically creative,[3429] Law of the instrument,[3430] Law of the instrument,[3452] Planning fallacy,[3431] Law of the instrument,[3453] Communication issues,[3432] Law of the instrument,[3454] Empathetic disposition,[3455] Collaborative-Creative Disposition,[3434] Humor effect,[3433] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership,[3456] Empathetic disposition,[3435] Organizing effectively

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MADISON BARNETT
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