Elephant, Residence Inn
Giraffe, Residence Inn
Call me champion of the unappreciated or call me a chump but I genuinely enjoy praising advertising that is usually overlooked, often unfairly.
This new campaign for Residence Inn by mcgarrybowen (the agency the hipsters love to hate) is a perfect example. Both agency and client represent a brand of thinking that bucks trends and invites criticism. So be it. But this new advertising has a lot going for it…
First and foremost, we have a beauty of a tagline: It’s not a room. It’s a Residence. Genius. Not only does it take the ubiquitous hotel-word “room” and deposition it as a compromise but the line also makes the brand name a hero while working its double meaning. It shares many of the same qualities as my all-time favorite strap line: “Nothing runs like a Deere” for John Deere.
Then there’s the wonderfully old school “demo” featuring animals known for their bigness (a giraffe, an elephant) freely gallivanting about their “residences” with plenty of room to spare. As far as I can tell these demonstrations are totally legit, in other words no CGI or modified stage sets. Just big animals in big, beautiful hotel rooms… I mean residences. And I have to admit these residences do look pretty nice.
I’ve never been a fan of “animal commercials.” They ‘re typically too cheesy, predictable or even creepy. FYI: I never liked stupid pet tricks. It’s my opinion these spots work because the animals serve a ‘bigger’ concept and are not just there for laughs. One could argue animals and hotel rooms don’t mix and I don’t dispute this might be a turnoff for some. But I doubt it.
Finally, the film is pretty and the writing is surprisingly witty. What can I say: it ain’t bad.
December 14, 2011
In 2011, the advertising agency, Mcgarrybowen became the AOR on Burger King, Sears, United/Continental and just the other day, Bud Light. Hard to believe they could top last year, when the agency also won more than its share of big accounts. While most advertising agencies have struggled –with new media, with the recession, with themselves- Mcgarrybowen has thrived. And they’ve done so without employing creative superstars or the attention grabbing pyrotechnics so coveted by their peers. And now they are seemingly without peer, having beaten in pitches most every Madison Avenue juggernaut and the creative powerhouses alike.
They have their haters. The trade blogs and comment strings are dripping with malevolence. Mcgarrybowen’s people are “old.” They are “hacks.” They do the kind of “traditional” work that gives “advertising a bad name.” “Conservative to a fault,” they do only what “the client wants.” They suck.
Without big names in the corners or big trophies in the lobby, Mcgarrybowen wins every pitch they are in. And it’s not like they’re going after small fry. Blue chippers are as hard to come by as Blue Marlin, but their hulls are full of them.
Haters point at their creative product, saying “meh.” But this can only be construed as jealousy, or elitist scorn. Sort of like when film students deride Hollywood for making mass-appeal films instead of art. True, I can’t think of anything sensational they’ve done from a purely creative perspective but since when has advertising ever been made from a purely creative perspective? Besides, Burger King had “sensational” work. The kind of work that put them in the so-called “conversation.” Maybe the client just wanted good advertising.
Mcgarrybowen understands that this is a business, and like any business these days, budgets are shrinking and people are scared. Whether creative purists like it or not, big marketers want big ideas that are safe. That usually means showing the product and people enjoying it. Push the envelope a little but not off the table. It seems the agency will gladly forsake Gold Lions at Cannes for fat coiffers in New York and Chicago. And because of this they are the comfortable choice for CMO’s, over and over again.
Theirs is an old school approach and one in which I wrote about when the agency’s winning streak began. Since that post they’ve won United/Continental and Bud Light. Those are the two biggest brands in two of the biggest categories on earth.
Tebow-like isn’t it? Against relentless criticism, all they do is win. I know several men and women at Mcgarrybowen here in Chicago. I “came up” with some of them at Leo Burnett. They will tell you there’s nothing magical behind their success. Just hard work, due diligence and a knack for listening. Whatever it is, it’s a great story. More power to them.