THE ECONOMIST: Venn diagrams.


The Economist was an open brief at AMV. 

It meant that everyone in the creative department worked lunch hours, weekends and in downtime on posters for The Economist.
This had been going on for about ten years.
I turned up as Creative Director on the account, about ten years into the ‘Red Campaign’.
I’d estimate that on average I’d approve one out of every fifteen ads I was shown.

We’d need a campaign of ten posters to run every three months.
So, at a fifteen to one ratio, over ten years, that means that the amount of ‘Red’ ideas thought up by the twenty or so creative teams by the time I’d got there was…a lot.
About 6,000.

But I was worried that ten years in the campaign was becoming a little too familiar, it’d lost an element of freshness.
Awards were certainly down, which is sadly the case once a campaign wins awards and starts to become overly familiar.
So initially, we pumped out yet more red ads.'Ever Go Blank' The Economist, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV/BBDO'E=iq2' The Economist, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV/BBDO'The Brain' The Economist, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO-01.jpg'Lose-the-ability' The Economist, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV/BBDO'Having potential' The Economist, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV/BBDOBut whilst driving home one day I spotted a big red poster in the distance, I couldn’t tell whether it was one that Sean and I had done, but I knew it was for The Economist.
It got me thinking, the format is unbelievably well branded, but ten years on, are the public approaching the campaign like me; ‘Oh…there’s one of those red Economist posters, I’m sure it’s saying something witty about intelligence, but I can’t be arsed to read it.’
In a nutshell: Were they getting too predictable?

I thought the colour and font were so distinctive we produce a mini campaign every quarter that had a slightly different graphic look.
I spotted a venn diagram in Vanity Fair, a red circle overlapping a blue circle, a bit like this one.
Venn Ref,  The Economist, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV/BBDO

I thought it’d be a great variant on the red look, and different, but a clever structure to write to.
I had a go at writing some.The Economist Venn Scribbles (e)-01The Economist Venn Scribbles (c)-01
But it was a like a Mensa Test: One circle is red and says: “Reads The Economist”,
the blue circle says something else that’s clever, and the bit at the bottom says
something that is the summation of this that is both clever AND funny.
I couldn’t do it.
I just couldn’t unlock the formula.
I explained it to Sean.
He rattled off a load:The Economist Venn Scribbles (b) *-01
Once he’d unlocked the formula, I started start writing them too.The Economist Venn ScribblesDPS (a)-01
We loosened up a bit and started swearing.
(But as the scamp below indicates, these were pre- spell-check days, at least for me.)'Tourettes Rough' The Economist Venn Scribbles, Dave Dye, AMV/BBDO
We took these scribbley little ideas above and turned them into ads.
I’m consequently surprised how much this process changes the tone of the idea.
What seemed funny as a scribble can look bland as a finished ad, what looked like a ridiculous, daft idea the client would never buy in a million years scribble can suddenly feel buyable once in a clients ‘clothing’.
Sean and I looked at them in their new clothing and made some decisions.

THE REJECTED.'Son Of A' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Bit boring.

'Vain' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Funny, but probably a gag looking for a brief.
I guess we may also be sued by Carly Simon, Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger or whoever the song is actually referring to.

'Tourette's' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
This was actually bought by the client and pulled at the eleventh hour.
Just as well, it probably wasn’t what David Abbott had in mind when he set up the campaign.

'Sleeps In A*' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
So-so.

'Shy' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Bit basic.

'Religious' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
There was another religion based idea we preferred.

'Abstract poet' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Client considered it intelligible, which was kind of the point. A shame, it was one of our favourites.

'Modest' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Didn’t feel on brand, too chatty.

'Big Feet' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Knob gags did seem right for The Economist.

'Likes Dill Pickles' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Quite liked it, wondered whether dill pickles were a bit down-market.

'Likes Damien' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Damien Hirst said no.

 

'Fear Of Horses' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
Too flashy, too Eighties.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 19.44.22.pngToo many words, also, it’s bit childish, although it does use a lot of long words.

'Articulate' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDOWhy risk offending Jezza?

THE CHOSEN.
'Been Given*' The Economist, Venn, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO-01.jpg'Catholic Upbringing' The Economist, Venn, Dave Dye, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO-01.jpg'Tends Sheep' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Ludite' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Dyslexic*' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'One Legged' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Hates Capital' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Titled' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Colour Blind' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Contrarian' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO'Abstract poet' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
The client rejected this one saying it was ‘unintelligible’
Which was kind of the point, a shame as it was one of our favourites.

'Tourette's' The Economist, Dave Dye, Venn, 48 sheet, AMV-BBDO
The client got cold feet and pulled this one at the eleventh hour.
Just as well, it probably wasn’t what David Abbott had in mind when he set up the campaign.


Then, C.E.O Andrew Robertson came in: ‘I can’t do it, the ‘Red Campaign’ was David’s gift to the agency.”
Flip!
It was decided we should run them along side the familiar red ads.
They worked well as cross-track posters, people could get the structure, then see how it played out, whilst waiting for their delayed train.
A whole bunch of rejects were ganged up as a possible cross track, but didn’t happen.'REJECTS - Venn' The Economist, AMV:BBDO.jpgThe following year, posters in the red style were deemed sufficiently fresh to win a D&AD pencil ( “Jigsaw”) and a Campaign Posters Gold (“Long Copy”).
So perhaps Andrew was right, it was ‘David’s gift’.

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