Thursday, May 29, 2008

If This Isn't A Black Pencil Then What Is?


Tonight Channel 4 airs a 3-minute live ad for Honda, made by 4Creative.

19 skydivers will jump from a plane and attempt to form the word 'Honda', which leads to the strapline for the new Accord - 'Difficult is worth doing.' Full story here.

The ad hasn't even gone out yet, but in my view, I don't think it's too early to call this one as a Black Pencil. D&AD describes the standards for a Black Pencil as "a piece of work or campaign that is truly groundbreaking; the kind of work that redefines a medium."

If the first live ad of the modern era doesn't do that, then what does?

It's certainly more groundbreaking than the Black Pencil-winning Gorilla, which while a brilliant TV ad, did not redefine the medium. (Opinion borrowed from AdWeek piece.)

I love the quote from the client too: "If it works, people will know who it's for. If it doesn't, they won't." Respect to Ian Armstrong, Honda's manager of customer communications. Here is a man playing to win, rather than playing to not lose, like so many clients seem to.

Of course, there is a rumour going around that either the skydivers get the logo right or their parachutes don't open. But hopefully that is just a rumour...

44 comments:

Wal said...

i think it's all gonna run smooth. and the 'proper' spot breaks on sunday as well.

a black pencil? would be great.

the golden oracle of truth said...

why does it matter that it's live?

From the guardian piece it seems to be some guff about not being able to fast forward it in Sky Plus-land. But really, we all had the idea of live ads when we were students, but they were usually for companies where the liveness of the ad was relevant (24-hour shop, fresh food etc.)

This seems like a technical achievement rather than an advertising one.

And why is difficult worth doing? I'd imagine it'll be difficult to cheesegrate my pelvis off. Worth doing? Perhaps not.

(Wal, your picture makes you look like Henry Conway.)

Anonymous said...

Whatever anyone says, I am very excited by the prospect of a live Sky Diving stunt. It will be like an episode of You Bet!

Weren't the older live ads usually just performance ads? I actually don't know, so please don't shoot me down. Does anyone know of previous live ads I can see?

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's too early to call it a black pencil. Now i hope it's a piece of shit or goes wrong just so you look daft. A bunch of sky divers forming a logo doesn't sound that great an idea surely? Let's wait and see shall we?

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no interest in seeing skydivers making shapes or letters or whatever in the sky, even if it is live. I saw it on Blue Peter 20 years ago and that was enough for me. If Peter Duncan can do it how difficult can it be.

martyn@preview said...

Great strategy, great to see adverts getting campaigns too

blogged it here

Anonymous said...

wow some skydiver spell out the word honda, what an amazing peice of film, oh and hold on its actually live(if the weather is good or they will just run the one they shot yesterday) shit thats brilliant, like the ads they use to do live in the 1950s.
stop bigging honda up you loser. yes they have done great ads in the past but this sounds like a stinky oversized turd that the public wont give a shit about.
if difficult is worth doing, go and spend your money on stoping kids getting knifed everyday.
sorry scamp, i think you have bigged this up far too much. i doubt it will even get in the book. but who knows i may be eating my words tomoz.

Anonymous said...

You're clearly still on holiday Scamp.
A black pencil doesn't deserve to go to an ad that breaks boundaries purely for the fact that 'it's live' (and besides, Veet did this 3 years ago. OK, an advertising product not in the same league as Honda, but it's been done. And where was their black pencil?)
So bang goes your theory.
I'm guessing you've also been swayed by the jouralistic overclaims in your Guardian link. Well, fair enough, they do rate it. But when you put two and two together and remember they're both W&K clients, then the glowing article seems a bit hollow.
Honda have always been about rock solid strategy - hate something change something was genius.
Difficult is worth doing isn't. It lacks any connection to the product. And therefore will do well to get in the book, let alone win advertisings holy grail. Unless, of course, some muppet invites you onto the jury.

Anonymous said...

The "live" aspect of this lacks relevance.

Wal said...

who is Henry Conway?

James Gordon-MacIntosh said...

Black pencil or no, this ad does push back some boundaries.

There are plenty of examples of live ads from times past - the Albion work for eBay springs to mind and that picked up a gong or two, I seem to recall.

Even so, this ad is trying to do something much more difficult than those that went before it - creating a logo in the sky is tough.

As for whether accomplishing that particular feat live in an ad break is relevant, of course it is.

Says sod all about the cars, says a lot about the Honda brand and the company it stands in front of. Honda would say that they are all about innovation - whether creating advanced humanoid robots or decent diesel engines or superfast computer chips (dagnammit, can't find the link to that one).

Taking that spirit into the way that they communicate is a really strong way to reflect the brand through the way that they communicate, as well as what they say.

Black pencil or no, I'm with Scamp as far as thinking that this is a strong piece of communication.

Anonymous said...

No. It does lack relevance.

Anonymous said...

Wal. There's this thing called google or google images that might help you.

Just in case you've never heard of those two, HC is a pillow biting whoopsie who likes to grab his ankles for kicks.

Anonymous said...

If the skydivers spell out TITS instead, then I'd award it a black pencil for rebelling.

Anonymous said...

Is creating a logo in the sky tough? We've all seen skydivers making shapes etc. from twenty years back. The idea that they can make a logo or the shapes of some car parts actually sounds quite lame (Blue Peter and You Bet are good references). If we'd never seen skydiving shapes I'd be fucking impressed but it's old and dull.

Boring shit is boring shit, whether it's live or not.

Anonymous said...

Afraid Goodby beat WK to the live ad-idea by a decade or two - for a restaurant chain with a great premise: even their ads are fresh.

Anonymous said...

I'm bored of Honda. They seem to have lost their way from the tone of Cog/Grrr/Impossible dream. Those ads had confidence and genuinely broke new ground. This looks like a mid eighties stunt for Everest double glazing.

Paul Sears Photography said...

Man as someone in the advertising business, I gotta say big props to them for trying it. Let's hope it works!

Anonymous said...

So a team of skydivers jump on live TV. I guess advertising has got to be the only category in which it could win an award. How sad.

junior said...

Was it not on this very same blog where I once read the words "If you want to have a wank, do it at home"? Enough said.

Anonymous said...

i work in advertising and i'm not going to watch it.

do we really expect punters to give a toss?

Anonymous said...

If filming a fairly unimaginative stunt with a pretty flimsy line at the end of it and broadcasting it live constitutes a black pencil then this industry is badly in need of some rubbers.

Anonymous said...

people will watch anything that gets hyped so i imagine they will

Anonymous said...

i've heard on the grapevine that they put the story out there of sky divers spelling the word' honda' to throw people of the scent, and to get people saying what a waste of money.
what they are actually going to do is throw 8 hondas out of a plane with 4 people sat in each one, and see who bottles it and pulls their shute first.

the golden oracle of truth said...

Alas. Not true. It's the boring shit we've all been told. Not bottling in a car is hardly difficulty. It's more bravery/stupidity.

"Oooh, lah-di-dah! They're actually doing a live ad! A LIVE ad! Live! Live! LIVE! It's amazing! LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE LIVE! It's amazing. Ever seen anything LIVE on TV before? Of course not! (Apart from last night's footie) BUt THIS IS LIVE! LIVE! FUCKING AMAZING. MY COCK IS HARDER THAN THE TIMES CROSSWORD!!!!! OH my fucking God! IT's a LIVE TV ad! BY JESUS! It's LIVE! I've JUST COME! BECAUSE IT'S FUCKING LIVE"

"AND SKYDIVING. Have You ever seen FUCKING SKYDIVERS MAKING SHAPES BEFORE? (apart from Record Breakers and Surprise Surprise and Duncan Dares). NO. OF COURSE NOT. IT'S SKYDIVING YOU SILLY SHIT! IT'S AMAZING. YOU'VE NEVER SEEN SKYDIVERS MAKE SHAPES. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE YOU ARE A LYING BUCKET OF HORSESHIT."

And it's live.

Oh fuck, I'm watching a repeat of Friends on E4 at 8.10 so I won't be tuning in.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Didn't Ford do this last year?

Anonymous said...

I heard BUPA were going to do a spoof of it where it goes wrong

Anonymous said...

@ 3:01 PM
I think those ads were shot the same day they were broadcasted, but not live.

I do remember campaign by W+K Portland. Those were 10 seconds live ads, each featuring somebody running, cycling, etc

At one point the person would show a handwritten sign reading:

"I'm running 10k while your sitting in your sofa" Just do it.

Anonymous said...

just saw it!

no fuck ups!

not sure if it deserves a black pencil though :/

Anonymous said...

Really underwhelming. They spelt the word Honda. A bloke whooped a lot. What was the point exactly? I thought it was Difficult is worth doing but the end line was still Power of Dreams. Big deal. What a let down. And did W&K do that poster of a Honda driving up the windscreen of another Honda? Dearie me if they did

Mr touchy said...

they do did that poster but don't mention it, neil can get emotional.

Scamp, are you done with over-hyping shit?

You wonder why Gorilla got a black pencil? 'cause people like you glorifying it. Same with this. And it'll be probably be the same when you post Cabral's new "Balls" derivative.

Anonymous said...

"19 skydivers will jump from a plane and attempt to form the word 'Honda', which leads to the strapline for the new Accord - 'Difficult is worth doing.'"

Actually, what they did was considerably easier. Letter by letter? Piece of Blue Peter piss.

"The ad hasn't even gone out yet, but in my view, I don't think it's too early to call this one as a Black Pencil. D&AD describes the standards for a Black Pencil as "a piece of work or campaign that is truly groundbreaking; the kind of work that redefines a medium."

If the first live ad of the modern era doesn't do that, then what does?"

That ad didn't get anywhere near redefining the medium. How does that change the definition of TV? The first Red Button ad didn't. This rubbish from Children's BBC circa 1987 certainly won't.

"I love the quote from the client too: "If it works, people will know who it's for. If it doesn't, they won't.""

A bit disingenuous from Mr Armstrong, there; We all got a nice juicy logo at the end. Far from playing to win, he's just bought a disappointing 'stunt' whose creativity is weak and whose execution is underwhelming.

I hope the real version on Sunday is better. Sounds to me like it's going to resemble the AUDI gymnasts ad just a little too much.

And it's a bit of Wiedenwank. Could have been for Renault or Citroen but then it wouldn't have got that hype piece in the Guardian and even fewer people would have given a shit.

Anonymous said...

You said: "a piece of work or campaign that is truly groundbreaking; the kind of work that redefines a medium."

Truly groundbreaking? Nope. Redefines a medium? Are you joking? As someone else pointed out: it didn't redefine television.

The worst thing about it is that, despite it being a load of people falling to earth from a plane, it was really boring. Why? Because we've seen it loads of times.

I think your next post should be a retraction/apology. Or at least an admission that you don't have a bloody clue. Awarding a Black Pencil to an ad you haven't even seen? And this from someone who, by virtue of working in the industry, supposedly knows a thing or two? Absolutely priceless.

Me from Brokenglish said...

Scamp,
it's and old fashion idea. Live commercials has more than 30 years at least.

gfunk said...

I watched it, I thought it was O.K. The live aspect didn't seem that necessary and what they did didn't seem that impressive. I saw better things on Britain's Got Talent (see that guy with the football, shame he dropped it a few times). I guess I don't realise the skill it takes to fall. If anyone gets a black pencil it should be gravity.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea is fucking brilliant and bang on strategy. A huge concept that 99% of the clients out there wouldn't have the balls to do. So Honda client, we salute you.

However, I think the ad itself was a bit of a anti-climax. As somebody has already said, we've seen this shit before. Plus, I thought the sky divers were spelling out the whole word HONDA. Not letter by letter.

Anonymous said...

Wal, aren't you going to say this is fucking brilliant? Got a bit over excited and busy hands can't type?

PH said...

I saw it by accident believe it or not as I was flicking through my 900+ channels. Bit of an anti-climax I thought, and went on a little too long afterwards, during which they sort of ran out of filling shots. And the annoying whooping man. But fair frickin' play to W&K regardless - or rather, the production company. A feat of astonishing administrative brilliance. Scamp, still think it's worth a pencil after watching?

the golden oracle of truth said...

I rest my case.

By the way, Brand Republic says it's been billed as the first live ad of modern times.

So there have been live ads before, possibly ages ago. And what's 'modern times'? This century? The last twenty years.

All a bit fishy.

And shite.

Difficult is worth buying said...

you'll have to ask Neil how much inmortality did they buy? What was it? £100k for a decade? £1m for "modern times"? Can't remember Campaign's price list.

]-[appy Thought said...

@ Wal / Henry Conway:

GFGI!

Fenton Benton said...

This is the best piece of 'advertising' I've ever seen.

It does as well as dramatising.

It has it's own USP.

It had me on the edge of my seat.

I wanted it to work. I felt positive about Honda.

And as all good advertising does, it required a leap of faith.

Excellent.

Anonymous said...

is it you, Neil?