I'm not talking about the ten commandments, of course.
I'm talking about matters of much less significance – grammar, and advertising, specifically.
I've had a lot of fun and entertained a lot of people with my “How To Write Good” exercise, which revels in breaking the rules of grammar for fun.
Occasionally, a client will have rules that the creative team is told never to break. Well, that's just too tempting for a couple of wise guys masquerading as art director and copywriter.
Here's how we broke a big rule for a big client, and made them love it.
Strictly Air France
Advertisers spend lots of money creating a “look” for all their exposure. Logo, layout format, colors, style, typefaces – the rules are usually in a “style book,” a manual for anyone and everyone who has anything to do with designing, producing and printing the company's material.
Some are more rigid than others. Since Air France's look was determined in Paris, we at K&E, responsible for advertising the airline to Americans, had no say in changing it. The headline and text typefaces were set, the logo and theme were set, and, the cardinal rule was that there be only one illustration or photo. One.
This "capabilities" ad that we prepared, with a dramatic shot of the supersonic Concorde, is a good example. It follows the style book exactly.
But the art director, Gerry Severson, and I had an idea that required breaking the cardinal rule. We were assigned an ad for an Air France service called “Flexi-Plan.” The feature allowed – encouraged – American travelers to Paris to design their own tours based on their budgets, interests and time.
To us, the idea screamed for specific, multiple pictures of Paris's most famous landmark. So, we assembled nine of the thousands of stock photos of the Eiffel Tower into that space that was supposed to only have one, and presented the layout with a headline that, while seeming to contradict the multiple illustration, actually reinforced it.
To our surprise and joy, the client was as discerning as we had hoped, and this ad ran in major magazines that year.
Next time: Move fast or lose it.