AQA: Have a bottom drawer.

As a rule, I like campaigns that can only be used for the client they were written for.
Take ‘Compare The Meerkat’, if that client doesn’t buy it you chuck it in the bin.
It’s a good test of whether it’s own-able.
If you can swap the logos for competitors and it works just as well, generally that’s a bad sign.
But, not everyone has something unique to shout about.
Sometimes you find yourself on the same brief for different clients,
sometimes exactly the same brief but in a completely different category.

I had whilst working on The Economist at AMV/BBDO that was just perfect for them;
The Economist gives you knowledge > the knowledgeable have less questions > The Economist are making the question mark 2.JPGphoto 1 copy.JPGB W centre.jpgBut I could never quite put it over in a way I was happy with, it always seemed a bit too basic, and as clever was almost a mandatory on an The Economist brief.

Cut to a couple of years later, Ask Jeeves came to talk to us at CDD.

They were a search engine, I presume the name came from the idea that you type in what you’re looking for and Jeeves goes to fetch it.
We had a thought that was just perfect for them; Ask Jeeves a question and he’ll answer it, he’s basically making the question mark extinct.
Jeeves could literally go around killing question marks.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 21.48.26.png

True, he’d have to run around committing murders left, right and centre, not exactly on brand, but ironically it might make him more likeable, stop him being such an unctuous little twat.
For a start, he could kill one on the homepage in a new way every day.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.38.11Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.37.51.png He could be seen fleeing from the murder scene on posters.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.35.17.png

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.36.26.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.35.44.pngjeeves2.jpgjeeves5.jpgThe idea came together really well, so we got a fancy illustrator to do some fancy roughs to present at the pitch.cdd_10.jpgcdd_6.jpgcdd_11.jpgcdd_2.jpgcdd_1.jpgcdd_9.jpgcdd_8.jpgcdd_7.jpgcdd_4.jpg
It turned out the Ask Jeeves bods weren’t keen to turn their brand icon into a murderer. Weird?

Sx months later, the BBC asked for some trailers for BBC Learning.
BBC Learning? What to do? What to do?
Bingo! We had a thought that was just perfect for them; Learning = knowledge, becoming knowledgable means asking less questions, making the question mark extinct.

Draw it up!
Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 21.44.31Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 21.43.30

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 21.43.43Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 21.44.12

They liked it.
While they were liking it their budget was pulled.


Another six months or so go by, we have a chemistry meeting with two tech chaps, they tell us about their new ‘‘It’s for mobile phones, text any question you like to 63336 and you’ll have an answer in minutes, it’s called ‘AQA’, it stands for ‘Any Questions Answered.’’
service,  turnup  Primrose Hill to ask us whether we’d produce some advertising for them in exchange for some equity. (A tiny, weeny, little bit of equity.)

First, they needed a logo.Logo board 1.jpgLogo board 2.jpgLogo board 3.jpgLogo board 4.jpgLogo board 5.jpgIt was rejected in favour of an inferior idea that will pop up shortly.

Ironically, considering we had a campaign reading and sitting in a drawer just waiting to be used, we ignored it.AQA, Headlines, 'It's like', rough-01.jpgAQA, Headlines, 'Remember', rough-01.jpgAQA, Headlines, 'Think', rough-01.jpgAQA, Headlines, 'We Can', rough-01.jpgAQA, Headlines,'Questions', rough-01.jpgThe logo and ads were rejected.
I didn’t mind the ads being rejected but thought the logo was strong.
Certainly better than where we all ended up.
We thought the advertising stripped back, minimal clean, minimal and would jump out from the clutter of newspapers, they thought it was boring.

We go again, let’s have another look in that bottom drawer.Endline.jpg
Surely this is just perfect for them; Their whole business is answering questions, they are literally making the question mark extinct.
We delicately removed Jeeves from the executions.aqa_roughs02.jpg

elephant without hands.jpggangster_image.jpg

We then set about thinking up some new executions.
Now that Jeeves had been ditched we restricted ourselves to only two scenarios; the murder or the disposal of the body/question mark.
This new found freedom was great, for a start they needn’t all be murders, the culprit could be Mother Nature.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.27.26.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.28.01.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.25.53.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.27.03.png
They could also be a bit more esoteric:Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.24.26.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.26.12.png
Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.20.25.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.21.25.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.24.47.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.52.47.png
They could be post death set ups.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.21.42.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.23.59.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.17.31.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.18.57.png

We presented them.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.48.14.png
‘Don’t get it?’

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.47.15.png
‘Too violent.’ (But it’s a sodding question mark!)

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.46.57.png
‘Don’t get it?’
Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.47.52.png

‘Don’t get it?’

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.45.23.png

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.46.23.png
‘Too depressing.’ (But it’s a sodding question mark!)

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.46.03.png
‘Don’t get it?’

We started with the campaign with the ideas that were easiest to get.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.07.17.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.04.21.pngAQA, 'Concrete Boots' ad.jpgAQA, 'Electrocution' ad.jpgAQA, 'Trap' ad-01.jpgAQA, 'Hanging' ad.jpgScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.07.52.png

Then they got a bit cleverer.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.03.44.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.03.12.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.41.36.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.06.27.png

You had to think about them a bit more, but when you got it, it was rewarding. A bit.
Take this one, inspired, or robbed, depending on your point of view, from a scene from a film ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’, where a white man is dropped into a ghetto, I think it was Harlem?Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.25.05.png
Here’s the first rough.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.23.00.png
Client: ‘What’s with the blood…and RATS? Bit scary.’
(But it’s a sodding question mark!)
Final version. (As you can see, we cleaned up the ghetto.)
Untitled-3-01.jpgScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.33.24.pngAQA, 'Pin Cushion' ad.jpgScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.05.55.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.02.07.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.02.31.pngAQA, 'Boots' ad.jpg

We produced their business cards too.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 12.59.36.png.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 12.59.21.png

We produced a little giveaway booklet.Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.09.38.png

Which ended up being a book, a book that Amazon tells me is now worth 1p.Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 12.03.00.png

And finally, a few posters to go into the loos of colleges, for some reason ignoring the question mark altogether?Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.00.18.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.00.56.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.00.40.pngScreen Shot 2013-11-30 at 13.01.13.png

4 responses to AQA: Have a bottom drawer.

  1. Ben says:

    Who was the illustrator and why him? Actually, don’t bother replying; I’ll just text AQA.

  2. Kirsty says:

    You forgot to scan the card that the client hand drew of a question mark in a pram for our card when Louis was born. Long after he was your client. I have it. You taught me how to horde.

  3. 藍光影片 says:

    Dear Sirs,I noticed your blog named “THINGS I’VE GLEANED; Pt 3. Have a bottom drawer. | STUFF FROM THE LOFT” like every week. Your writing style is witty.

  4. dave says:

    The greatest post I’ve ever read on advertising. Well done for saving all the work – must’ve taken ages to type this post up!

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