Each type of communication has its own rules. A tagline works differently than a headline, and an editorial serves a different purpose than a letter to the shareholders. The challenge is to meet the exact requirements of these specific measures and occasions while developing a characteristic tone of voice for the brand across all media. Our team has mastered this fine art, with many years of experience in the fields of advertising, journalism, literary studies and linguistics.
»We are floored«
To mark Cardinal Ratzinger’s selection by the papal conclave 10 years ago, the language mutilation specialists at Germany’s Bild newspaper landed an unexpected coup: »Wir sind Papst!« (“We are Pope!”) The grammatical and thematic audacity of this headline reflected an extraordinary situation in a just as extraordinary and popular way. In the end, the 70% of Germany that isn’t Catholic were happy to accept the title.
It became an instant sensation overnight – about as popular as Trappatoni’s legendary »Flasche leer« statement. But while this pearl of a verbal blunder remained unique, the formula »Wir sind« (“We are”) + singular noun generated an explosion of variations. As expected, the satirical title of the ORF program »Wir sind Kaiser« was outdone by far in reality. From »Wir sind Angst« (heavy metal album) to »Wir sind Bund« (German Federal Administration’s HR page for civil servants), »Wir sind Hammer« (hammer throwers), »Wir sind Klima« (The German Green Party in Leipzig), »Wir sind Günter Wallraff« (play) and »Wir sind Zirkus« (interactive circus in Linz), pretty much everything you can imagine has already been done.
But “pretty much everything” isn’t the same as “everything”. There wasn’t a fish in the list yet – and Nordsee had it. While conserving as many language resources as possible, the company created the tagline »Wir sind Fisch«. It takes us back to the beginning with the fish – an early Christian symbol, just like the pope – and promises an end to this “Wir sind” plague. After all, fish are mute. And who cares if the entire thing is a little worn out – we’re not talking about shoes.
Simplicity was the motto, which was why the tagline and entire commercial were immediately declared the new brand strategy. And why not? This move saved a huge amount of resources required for positioning, definitions and implementation. It’s amazing that the answer can be so simple! The way things look today, we’ve not seen the end of it. How many companies could still launch this fresh new strategy? “Wir sind Auto. Wir sind Bank. Wir sind Mobilfunk. Wir sind Elektrogerät ... In the end, we’re truly floored by how little can be used to achieve so much. In other words: Wir sind Flunder - we are flounders.
Author: Àxel Sanjosé, Director of Copywriting at KMS TEAM
Showing a «warm shoulder»: The potential of an open creative process
There is a term in the design process that many creative wish were eliminated altogether: The creative review meeting. For them, this is the ominous day on which their beautifully designed ideas and drafts are hacked apart into pitied shells of themselves, only to be transformed into lukewarm compromises.
In contrast, many clients see it in a very different way — completely opposite, to be exact. They see the creative review meeting as the emergency brake to get wildly misled creatives working in the right direction — with a great deal of effort, and sometimes even threats.
Clients and creatives are often brought together by just one thing when it comes to creative review meetings: A more or less pronounced sense of aversion. Even experienced marketing and communication managers see it as a necessary evil rather than a moment of potential greatness.
New teams instead of fairytales
The creative review meeting is the ideal tool to achieve outstanding results in communication, in both the creative and thematic sense. In order to make the best use of its potential, the people involved need to forget the idea that everything creative falls into the realm of spontaneous, impulsive, even aimless happenings, while analysis, structure and practical relevance form an alternate universe — and that the two are fundamentally incompatible.
This contradiction is a superstition. Good communication is the result of a development process involving logic as well as intuition, emotions and reflections.
The process becomes really productive once the client gets involved — as a full-fledged member of the team. This is the opportunity that the creative review provides. If it is possible to make this a truly productive and creative team meeting, the benefits are enormous. The concepts resulting from this collaboration will always move in the right direction, and won’t require massive, unexpected cuts or corrections in strategy after the fact.
It is essential to break down preconceived notions to make the creative review work. It also takes a stiff upper lip — to integrate the creative conceptual ideas and suggestions provided by clients without dismissing them as inconsequential ideas provided by amateurs. Clients also need the courage to seriously consider ideas that creatives present that directly impact operations without smiling condescendingly on them as unrealistic fantasies.
More is less
In the end, the goal is to bring existing strengths together on a shared project, and these strengths cannot be parceled out so neatly. Both sides benefit from the ability to think and make contributions to the other discipline. This makes creation a shared, holistic process with extraordinarily accurate, well-received results.
The additional effort and expense seemingly created by a highly-developed review culture is well worth it. It prevents «original» commercials that only attract people’s attention without any communicative benefit for the brand or product, as well as watered-down advertisements usually the result of poor compromises.
An open, equal exchange does not mean that tastes are defined from above, or that the creative team will anticipate every directive. It also does not mean forgoing precision and a connection to reality. This process reduces unsuccessful attempts to a minimum. Solutions developed together have the invaluable advantage of stability and the potential for long-term development. For all of these reasons, we should finally learn to love the creative review process.