Mar 31, 2011

Sheep Dog Standing In The Rain
- Peter Wood @SCAD

Courtesy: SCAD Advertising

I had the pleasure of attending a talk given by creative advertising guru, Peter Wood last night. He addressed an audience of Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) students, primarily from the advertising department, at the Student Center. 

Wood has been a typographer, designer, creative director and adviser at almost every major advertising agency across the U.S and the U.K. From Saatchi & Saatchi, Y&R and Ogilvy to The Martin Agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Slingshot. He has lectured at numerous ad schools, including Creative Circus, VCU Brandcenter and others. 

The lecture, entitled "Seven Deadly Things - A talk in seven parts by Peter Wood," gave advice and pointers on creativity. Wood is clearly a creative thinker and doer with a passionate voice - colored with a strong Scottish accent. 

Wood empowered his student audience by suggesting they think of themselves as brands. Brands to differentiate and stand out. 

Wood drew inspiration from music, incorporating a digital aid for an audience singalong to Hey Bulldog by The Beatles. These evocative lyrics may have been missed on the predominantly Generation Y crowd.

He also referenced sport heroes such as Dick Fosbury, who revolutionised the High Jump with his "Fosbury Flop". And an artist (whose name I didn't catch) who labels photographs with just a few words. These are all people who influenced Wood's creative output and contributed to his John Lennonesque verve.

Jasper Johns, "Three Flags" (1958)

After going through the "Seven Deadly Things" or steps for students to distinguish themselves, he displayed Jasper Johns' "Three Flags" on the big screen. The American audience was asked not to be ashamed of their country. Be Proud. Comparisons to British colonialisms in history were made. A communal pledge of allegiance was given (even for us internationals who were seated). And a stoic slideshow of, what I would call, "Americana" set to a soundtrack of "Turn Your Lights On" by Carlos Santana featuring Everlast.

Overall, it was a memorable speech, and many, including myself, left with a feeling that sparks of creativity had been passed on. The final tip - photograph people doing normal things. You will quickly realize that there is no such thing as normal.

Mar 29, 2011

When "The Body Shop" Lost Its Ruby

Back in 1998, The Body Shop, led by founder Dame Anita Roddick, debuted its self-esteem advertising campaign -  featuring the generously proportioned, size 16 doll named "Ruby." 

The Body Shop, The "Ruby" Ad Campaign, 1998

The campaign, primarily in print and outdoor, evolved from a new strategic positioning developed by ethical communications consultancy, Host Universal. They created the iconic "Ruby" image of the naked red-haired doll, hands behind her head and wind in her hair, that became the embodiment of the campaign. The photographer was Steve Perry

Her rubenesque figure graced The Body Shop windows in the UK that year, along with the slogan, 
"There are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do". 
She went on to appear in stores in Australia, Asia, and the United States. Ruby was a fun idea, but she carried a serious message. She was intended to challenge stereotypes of beauty and counter the pervasive influence of the cosmetics industry.

The Body Shop, The "Ruby" Ad Campaign, 1998

In the United States, the toy company Mattel demanded that The Body Shop pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows and served a cease and desist order. This was on the grounds that Ruby struck a passing resemblance to Mattel's iconic Barbie doll.

Then, in Hong Kong, posters of Ruby were banned on the Mass Transit Railway because authorities said she would offend passengers. Of course, the images of silicone-enhanced blondes in other adjacent ads were permitted to stay on the trains. 

Although the global campaign ultimately had to be dropped and abandoned all together, despite its strong yet simple message, it did reinforce The Body Shop as a brand which catered to real women. At the time, Randy Williamson, a company spokesperson stated, 
"Ruby is the fruit of our long-established practice of challenging the way the cosmetics industry talks to women. The 'Ruby' campaign promotes the idea that The Body Shop creates products designed to enhance features... not to correct 'flaws'". 
Ruby - the Anti-Barbie.

Personally, I feel its a shame that the Ruby campaign had to be dropped. It is so rare to see a cosmetics company challenge the ideals so forcefully promoted throughout the beauty industry. Perhaps The Body Shop or another company will pick up where Ruby left off and find a new and more successful strategy.