The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

When Adland Is Great …
June 4, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I hang a lot of shit on adland.

Not because I hate it, but because I love it.

Apart from the fact it has provided me [so far] with an amazing and rewarding life, it has also made some fantastic things happen.

OK, so its not cured cancer or stopped World hunger, but it’s done a lot of good and I don’t mean just helping companies get richer.

But we are in a slump.

A dip.

Maybe it’s a loss of confidence, maybe it’s a loss of vision, maybe it’s a loss of reality – but we are no where near where we were or where we could – and should – be.

Of course there are exceptions – but not nearly enough – which is why even now, after 20 years of working in this industry, I still get excited when I see great work … work that makes me feel something, think something, consider something … and that’s why I love this ad for the Canadian Paralympic Team.

[To see it better, click here]

What I also love is that it’s a print ad.

Just a print ad.

No interactive, crowd-sourced, 12 minute “movie” bollocks.

No teaser, Twitter or Facebook Fan components.

Just a print ad.

A great print ad.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti ‘integrated’ campaign – far from it – I just think a lot of integration is either:


1. Duplication, Not Integration:

Where one ad is shoved into as many places as possible.

2. Brainwashing:

Where the lack of a powerful idea is replaced with media volume exposure.


I feel too many people approach campaigns with ‘rules’ that just aren’t real.

Like saying ‘long copy ads don’t work’ when the issue is it doesn’t matter how long it is as long as it’s interesting.

Or that an old school medium can’t achieve the reach of digital when the issue should it’s about how it affects people rather than how many people have ‘the opportunity’ to see it.

There are a lot of great campaigns out there – a lot of great, integrated campaigns – but for me, I find it interesting that the two ads [let’s face it, they’re not campaigns] that have impacted me the most recently are both from the print medium … this one and this one.

Maybe it’s because I’m weird bastard.

Maybe it’s because adland seems to have turned into a sponsored joke writing machine.

Whatever the case, when you see something that has obviously been nurtured, crafted and flawlessly executed by people who care and want to make a difference, you can’t help be reminded how powerful and influential great advertising can be – regardless of the medium or integration it appears in.

Thank you Canadian Paralympic Team, you have promoted the abilities and potential of more than just Paralympians.

30 Comments so far
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Great ad. Great post. Great points. Is this the start of a week of great posts or simply a teaser to raise my hopes then dash them again? Only time will tell.

Comment by George

I know where my money is.

Comment by John

easiest fucking money since my exes took me for a fuckload of alimony.

Comment by andy@cync

This is probably my favorite post of yours – ever. The Paralympic team ad and the MI6 ad are both examples of what we are capable of. Both are on my wall.

Comment by Ciaran McCabe

your favourite? fucking ever? its good. i even sort of like campbells ramblings either side of the ad, but best ever? what about… or…. fuck me, youre right, its the best of a very fucking ugly bunch.

Comment by andy@cync

Wow, I’m shocked/happy Ciaran …

It truly is a great bit of work and a great reminder of how good adland can be when they want to be.

Comment by Rob

consider that your birthday present.

Comment by andy@cynic

Get great ideas in front of a business-relevant audience. If the ideas aren’t great or the audience isn’t relevant then go back to the drawing board. And don’t use long copy ads. Real people don’t read them.

Comment by John

You really think that John? Isn’t the point that people only read what is of interest to them so the length of the copy is not the real issue. As Rob said in a previous post, the popularity of Harry Potter against all age groups surely highlights that well written stories trump copy length. Of course a book is not an ad, at least not in the traditional sense, but doesn’t the point being made still relevant to the issue?

Comment by Pete

Im partly winding him up, partly making the point that there are some valid rules and partly reiterating my prejudice that, unlike books, there is little coincidence between people coming across long copy ads and being in the mood to read them regardless of how well they’re written.

Comment by John

And see here for some reading data

Comment by John


Comment by andy@cync

A book isn’t the same as an ad – but like Pete, I do feel there are some similarities that can be pulled out as regards copy length – and for me, it’s always going to be based about interest versus number of words.

Comment by Rob

Of course. All I’m saying is that my hunch is that changing reading behaviour means that the likelihood of someone even starting to read a piece of long copy that they chance across has sadly been reduced to almost zero.

Comment by John

This is a great post Rob and that ad is brilliant. Your point about adland being full of “invisible rules” is so true. As is your destruction of them. It’s inspiring to hear how passionate you still are for great advertising, especially after you’ve been doing it for so long. I hope lots of people see this post for the wise words and the great example of advertising at its crafted best.

Comment by Pete

wouldnt you still be enthusiastic if you were paid a fortune at the best agency in the world to leave them the fuck alone an spout bollocks at various ad groupie conferences around the world? think pete, think.

Comment by andy@cync

For an industry that despises restrictions, it places a huge amount of barriers on itself. Good point Peter. Excellent post Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

There’s restrictions and restrictions but any agency that views any criteria as a barrier to creativity will be out of business before long and so they should be.

Comment by Pete

Everyone has already said everything I want to say. It’s a great ad and a great post. I especially agree with Pete when he says how great it is to hear you so enthused about great work. It’s not surprising to me because I’ve known that fact ever since I worked with you but it might be for others who think 20 years in any industry makes you jaded and uninterested. They’re wrong. At least where you are concerned.

Comment by Bazza

so you decided to repeat everything one more time. who do you think you are, sir martin midget. mind you….

Comment by andy@cync

ok campbell, its good. the ad is fucking nice even if it feels like it should be a nike thing but the words and points around it are fucking good. not even fucking good for you, but fucking good. dont let it happen again. fortunately i know you cant, let afuckinglone wont. im going to get pissed to wash away the nasty taste of compliment from my mouth.

Comment by andy@cync

Shocked and impressed.

Comment by Pete

What Pete said.

x 100.

Comment by Rob

Love the ad, great post too. Now I’m off to bed, bank holiday awaits!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

[…]  ”…which is why even now, after 20 years of working in this industry, I still get excited when I see great work … work that makes me feel something, think something, consider something …” – Rob Campbell […]

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Maybe I’m hungover but I like everything about this post.

Comment by DH

You’ve written a great post about a great piece of work. I love it. Thank you Rob.

Comment by Annabel Grey

Thanks Annabel, nice to have you on here. Hope you come back again soon.

Comment by Rob

any brit posting comments on her majestys fucking jubilee day needs a good fucking kicking. i get dispensation because im basically fucking royalty.

Comment by andy@cynic

This is a great post and a great ad. It is sad that a lot of ads do not have such an impact on people as this ad does. In my opinion ads are supposed to change someone, in the way they think or in a the way they view the product or service.
Thank you for sharing.

Comment by Christina Cruz

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