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The brilliant self-campaign of London Advertising

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Turns out advertising agencies are not the best folks when it comes to following their own advice. Constantly helping brands cut through with some witty voice or compelling storytelling, they tend to forget to do the same about themselves.

"Advertise now" is the advice advertising agency London Advertising has been giving to clients all the time during the pandemic, as the time is now to send your voice out and let it be heard by your prospective customers. And so, for this Behind the Idea, we host founder and CEO Michael Moszynski who has worked relentlessly with his team to craft a campaign in four weeks, placing London Advertising on the streets across the UK.

In short, how many advertising agencies can you name? Well, now you can name one more.

What was the brief? 

Research from the likes of the IPA shows companies that advertise in a downturn gain market share over those that don’t. We wanted to take the advice we give clients during a recession or crisis: advertise now.

Also, because we’re a global agency and little of our creative work appears in the UK, we believed it would be a good time, when media rates are low and TV audiences are high, to build our profile in the UK. We saw the current situation as a great opportunity.

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How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go? 

Our Creative Director, Alan Jarvie, used lockdown to develop the campaign and presented it to the Agency team on one of our daily Zoom status calls.

Everyone bought into the idea immediately, as it was based on the three criteria we use to evaluate creative work for all our clients:

  1. Is it simple?  
  2. Does it stand out?   
  3. Can you remember who it’s for? 

A lot of advertising fails to do one, two or all three of these things, which is why average ad recall has slumped from 35% a few decades ago to just 8% today. We believe it’s shocking that 92% of clients’ media spend is wasted. Everything we do is aimed at reversing this.

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Tell us more about the concept. Why was it the right choice? 

Like many companies, we’ve been affected by the lockdown, so we needed to show it’s the size of your idea that matters, not the size of your production budget. And given we had to produce it during lockdown, a type-led approach made it not only achievable but different to the user generated footage everyone seems to be using.

The use of the brilliant green colour (which is inspired by our company motto to ‘be brilliant’ which is emblazoned in neon in our reception) gives it a distinctive and highly ownable look. You only need to drive past any of dozens of super premium digital sites it is running on across the UK to see how it stands out and attracts your attention.

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What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

We had to turn around 10 TV ads (including Clearcast approval), 27 posters, amend our website and create support materials in three weeks, with everyone working from home. It is a testimony to our team, who have worked together for several years and are a well-oiled machine, that we pulled it all off without any hitches.

Our biggest challenge was when someone suggested we could do with a more notable VO than Alan, our creative director.

Part of our philosophy as an agency is that we do what others would never even consider. So, we approached Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson (we do work with a lot of celebrities, so it wasn’t a completely ridiculous idea) to see if either of them would do it. To our delight they both said yes. All we had to do then was arrange recordings in New York and Nevada.

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter? 

The main message of the campaign is that we believe it pays to advertise. 

We are an advertising agency and advertising is our product. By showing we have confidence in the effectiveness of what we do we will be in a better position to show clients we understand them because we’ve been in their shoes. 
  
This should be the same attitude for everyone in advertising, especially when the sector has taken the biggest hit in its history. If we don’t believe it works, why will clients?

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Why will the final assets resonate with consumers?

Our consumers are, as we say in one of the ads, Company Owners, CEOs, MDs and Marketing Directors. We know they are busy people so our messages are aimed to stand out and be remembered.

From their reaction to the campaign so far it seems to be resonating.

Brilliantly simple and searingly memorable!
- Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association

This is the first time I have seen an ad agency do a major campaign like this for itself. The ads are bloody brilliant!”.
- Rupert Howell, Founder HHCL, Former CEO Chime and MD ITV

This is excellent.  I love the simplicity and cut through. Bloody great work and kudos to the team.
- Nick Arnold, Former Director, Apple

Brilliant – I found the project itself truly fascinating
- Imogen Watson, Editor, The Drum

Bloody brilliant!
- Stuart Fletcher, Former President of Diageo, CEO Bupa

Love it!
- Simon Bamber, Director Tottenham Hotspur Football Club

Excellent. An agency practising what the industry preaches
- Stuart Pocock, Founder The Observatory International

Sweet as a nut!
- Phill Clark, Founder Kemosabe

This looks really good. It deserves to succeed.
- Rick Nye, Founder Populus

Wow! Bold move. Great to see you taking the bull by the horns.
- Alan Thompson, CEO The Haystack Group

What is one unique fact about the campaign that will help it cut through? 

Every part of it is designed to ensure it cuts through.

How long did it take from inception to delivery? 

Four weeks.

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What do you hope it achieves for the brand? 

It’s a fact advertising builds brands and fame. 

We believe by the end of the campaign, we will be a bit more famous. Clients not considering advertising will consider it, and they will consider LONDON Advertising for the task.

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How satisfying is it to see it out there after so much hard work?

It’s doubly rewarding when you are the client as well as the agency.

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