Bits & Pieces?
It’s not new news, but most of the time, even in our changing world—many advertisers still want to talk more about themselves than their consumers. In their version of the advertising strategy, features outweigh benefits in key messaging platforms. Especially with limited dollars, “more bang for the buck” comes with cramming every nook and cranny of a spot with something to say about the product. I’m not casting judgement. I get it—with the pressure to succeed, and success ever more tied to ROI, it’s tough to be a marketer. But I urge us all to still focus on the consumer. Something I think we did well (along with our client) in these recent spots for HSHS (Hospital Sisters Health System) in Green Bay.
You may have read a post here months back, on a 60 second spot we shot with Michael Prince for the brand. Well, these are the harder-hitting siblings of that spot. What we’d call the “service line” spots for cancer and orthopedics. These spots carry some pretty heavy loads—boasting that “we provide the most treatment options,” that “we beat national survival rates” and that “we are among the nation’s best” when it comes to cancer. Product features, not benefits. But notice how the facts are surrounded both visually and verbally with “life”, “hope” and “a new belief.” Things I believe every person with cancer wants as much as the latest and greatest treatment.
By identifying that what we see in a cancer patient is a path to new life, we brought context, benefit and a personal connection to what would be a list of ingredients. Kudos to the team and the client on recognizing the fine balance between logic and emotion, especially when it comes to our health.
There is nothing better than working on a brand with a soul—something I’ve come to appreciate about our client Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare while producing their recently launched brand campaign.
At the heart of the campaign is the simple truth—that when someone is sick, hurt, or in need, family and friends rally to do what they can to help. Whether it’s making a meal, sending a card, or a personal visit. As a member of the community, Wheaton does its part—with many convenient locations, expert providers, and the latest technology, as well as by demonstrating compassion and empathy. Beyond that, Wheaton and its associates are involved neck deep with the communities they serve through public service, volunteerism, philanthropy and more.
To cast the television and engage Wheaton’s staff, interviews were videotaped of Wheaton associates telling their personal stories of what they do at work and on their own time to improve the lives of others. The stories were profound and very moving, including mission trips to Guatemala to help patients who are many times left to die, providing primary health care to Milwaukee’s homeless, and acts of kindness as simple as playing music to comfort patients who are afraid.
The campaign—summed up by the theme line Making Our Communities Stronger. Healthier. Better.—includes television and radio spots, print ads and outdoor. A website and social media content was developed that provides visitors with useful tools and information that enables them to “do what they can” to help their family and friends. Original music was composed and recorded with talent including our creative director Nick Pipitone and our client Deb Kozina on vocals.
I’m proud of the work. It’s true to our client and has renewed my faith in the power of humanity.
While I haven’t been too vocal about it, it’s true—I got asked to judge the Clio Healthcare awards. What’s that? Well, it’s a newer awards competition, a sibling contest, similar to the long-standing Clio Awards, that is supposed to recognize the challenges that health care presents advertisers and agencies. Why me? Well mostly because we have won several statues in the three-year old competition. And given it’s an international competition, I’ll remain incredibly flattered. Especially since my peers include the likes of Helayne Spivak, former creative head at Hal Riney NY, Y&R New York, Ammirati Puris/Lintas, and JWT New York. And current CCO of Saatchi Wellness in NY. Winner of every creative award that matters to anyone who looks like me—CLIO’s, One Show, Art Director’s Club, and Cannes. Just to name a few. Among the others, there are impressive names from every corner of the globe. And then there’s me, from Jigsaw, in Milwaukee, WI.
Impressive jury, but that doesn’t change the way I approach my job. To me, a great idea is a great idea. And there are no excuses. not even in health care. Not legal resrtictions or any other excuse. Just because the lawyers require 15 seconds of a 30 second spot for pharmaceuticals be legalese, doesn’t give that spot a handicap.
There were entries from around the world. Humbling, quite frankly. And there were plenty of great ideas. And there were plenty of bad ideas. But like any good awards competition—judged by professionals, mostly creative-types—by round two, the “wheat was certainly separated from the chaff.” While I am sworn to secrecy about the judging, I can tell you the Clio Healthcare Awards is growing fast and in the right direction. Because it’s growing from a model set by a respected award show. The results are in tabulation and the show in October in NYC.
Thanks to all who run the competition, to my fellow judges and to the entrants. While I didn’t get a chance to go to NY to judge (it’s online), I doubt that getting the cast together that formed the jury would be possible any other way. I appreciate the chance to participate. I appreciate the recognition that we have accomplished in the short time Jigsaw have been in existence. I look forward to what we will accomplish in the future.
The internet has caused many a blogger to signal the end of just about everything.
TV commercials — their existence and effectiveness — were supposed to die years ago. The newspaper business has been reported to be on life support. And the music business, well, they’re still trying to figure it out.
But while watching the Packer game last night a new thought came to me: Why has the internet not signaled the timely end of the local weatherman?
It started with a promo, where a weather guy came on and said: “Will this perfect weather last through the weekend? Find out after the game.”
It was a bizarro world moment, a world where the information being teased — what the weather would be this weekend — was some kind of best kept secret you had to wait to hear to find out. But those days are gone. And the weather is very available 24-7 now. Sure there’s a handful of octogenarians who wanted to find out what the weather was going to be but fell asleep just before the game got done. It was 11 PM by then.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have soem kind of personal vendetta against local meteorologists. But they seem to remain unscathed in a technological world where the information they give to us is simply a repeat of something that is available to us all the time. They used to corner the market on doppler radar. But all of us have access now.
In our business, technology has changed everything. None of us are unaffected. Entire agency cultures have changed and interactive departments have sprouted up in every miniscule corner of the world. We’re adjusting and have (no pun intended) weathered the storm of the end of “traditional” advertising. The weather guy though? Reinvention is necessary. As their market starts to dwindle due to the relatively free access to information, they’ll need to adjust as well.
Needless to say, I watched the end of the game, got the 10 day forecast and went to bed. Weather guy, I’ll leave the light on for ya.
Here I am, heading home from a pretty big still shoot for a national client—something I do often and something I still can’t believe I get paid to do—when I get an e-mail from Jen Kuhn, “Wanna do a TV spot?” it reads. “Sure,” I reply, “how do I do that? I’ve never done one.” That simple e-mail, coupled with my love for Jigsaw through a past project, was all it took.
So the journey begins. I had heard about TV shoots. And some big ones, with directors from @Radical Media, the company that represents me. Through that connection I had a lot of impressions of what I thought shooting TV would be like. This post is about my ideas on what I thought a TV shoot would be like and the reality of creating something wonderful out of almost nothing (a tiny budget). A trait I respect (not the budget part) from my friends at Jigsaw.
Day 1 - I think, “Shooting TV is going to be glamorous.”
My plane lands at Milwaukee International Airport on a cold November morning where I am expecting to be picked up by Kinkka, Steven Wold’s stunning, Icelandic personal assistant. Then we’d take the Jigsaw helicopter back to the agency for a pre-pro. Well, I guess expectations were high. It is actually Kip, a local PA who picks me up. We drive back to Jigsaw in his beat up Subaru. I am wondering if it has floor boards or not under the tattered floor mats. I start to get the picture, we must be putting all of our money into production, not pampering the director.
Day 2 - I think, “TV shoot days are long so I’ll be in my personal trailer quite a bit.”
For the first time in my career I am late for a crew call. I place the blame squarely on Jigsaw for booking us into a sketchy hotel and not giving me a personal assistant. But, instead of heading to my trailer for a latte, the next 14 hours pass by in a blur, because we don’t stop moving. In order to maximize the somewhat limited budget, the producer has scheduled almost everything today. So we arrive at a location, I take my camera out of the bag, and the producer tells me we have to move to the next location in 15 minutes. It being that this is my first commercial, I take it all in stride and pretend I know what I am doing. I don’t. But somehow, we get the shots. Including an awesome time-lapse of some high school students spelling the word “hope” out of luminaries set among the bleachers at their stadium. It is really, really cold outside, I am left wondering why anyone would want to live here now that Brett Favre is gone. Oh yeah, I never see anything resembling a trailer all day.
Day 3 – I think, “In TV they can “fix anything in post.”
Somewhat more manageable than day two, we only have to stuff a ten hour day into five hours. But we run into a little road-block. One of the shots is of a bicycle messenger with a tattoo of a wheel chair on his calf. Trevor, at the agency, has designed an awesome wheel chair logo which they have printed with an ink jet printer to make a temporary tattoo. At least that is the idea. But it’s not working, it’s backward. When I ask where the tattoo expert is, Steven points at Jen. When I ask where the art department is, Jen points at Steven. When I ask who the hell is responsible for this mess, they point at each other. When I ask, “Can we fix it in post,” they both say, “not on this budget.”
Day 4 – I think, “ TV Directors are respected and even feared.”
Hey, it’s my first spot, I am excited. And I went out and bought new toys just for this shoot. Like my new “Cineslider,” that allows me to shoot small dolly moves with pans. It’s kick-ass. But you know how you get that new sweater, or pair of shoes—and you want to wear them all the time? By Day Four I knew if I said, “bring me the slider,” one more time, I was going to have to be able to digest it, because one of these guys is surely going to shove it down my throat. So much for being respected and feared.
Day 5 – I think, “TV production is filled with experts for everything”
We’ve got some shots to pick up, so we drive to a park to scout a location. Not only do I not get a driver, but Jen’s driving now, because I was fearing for my life with Wold behind the wheel. We park and go find our spot. Coming back to the car we are surprised to find the driver’s door wide open. In a crowed parking lot. Jen says, “Hey, but it’s locked!” Now I start to wonder if I am safe with either one of them, driving or standing still. Later I get my confirmation when we come back to a parking structure and Steven can’t find the car keys. Ahhh… but the keys aren’t lost, he just left them in the car. This time it’s unlocked. With all my equipment. I don’t know if it is proof of their incompetency or proof that Milwaukee is an honest town. Well, one I know for sure.
Day 6 – I think, “Wow, that’s not the way I thought it was going to be.”
On the trip back home, I ponder about what I thought doing TV was going to be like and what it was actually like. My expectations were big and elaborate and I expected there was only one way to do it. But this was different. The production was small. The extravagance was replaced with passion. The pomp and circumstance was replaced with camaraderie. When I thought about it, I hadn’t just learned the way to do a TV spot. I once again experienced “The Jigsaw Way” where there isn’t one way to do something, where it isn’t the same way as everyone else’s way. For instance, who the heck would hire me to shoot a TV spot? Well, Jigsaw did. “The Jigsaw Way” is a pathway that twists and turns, and even doubles back on itself sometimes, but always takes you someplace wonderful and magical. And I can’t wait to go that way again.
Thank you Jen, Steven, Madonna, and everyone else for a great trip. Enjoy watching the spot as much as we enjoyed making it.
Michael Prince is a prominent photographer who has had solo exhibitions in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. His work is in the Library of Congress, several museums and many private collections. In 2000 he began shooting commercially, quickly gaining a broad clientele. Although this is Michael’s first TV commercial, he has been experimenting with video for the past year. Michael currently lives near Boston with his wife and two children. For some strange reason he loves Jigsaw. We are not sure why.
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