One advertisement: Tommy Hilfiger

Before the online age reaching the mass audience was much more intriguing and exciting. You could get the most driving feedback from newspapers and magazines or TV and radio, but if you had a good product and good idea for the ad, you could reach out with the help of outdoor advertising. One of my favourites in outdoor advertising history is Tommy Hilfiger.

In 1985 Tommy Hilfiger was nobody on the global level. But the advertising art director George Lois decided to introduce the talented fashion designer with a really courageous outdoor campaign.
Set to straight away.

The billboard was huge and in the heart of Manhattan. Usually, when your name is written down in three-metres-high letters over New York’s Times Square you should be a star already. However, with Hilfiger it was the other way round. Hilfiger was almost nobody, but his name was side by side with the world famous names and brands!

So, back in 1986, the arrival of Hilfiger’s fashion brand was introduced by a huge billboard in Times Square and comparing the unknown Hilfiger with the American greatest fashion designers (and also household names).

Billboard of Tommy Hilfiger in New York Times Square. Picture: New York Times

The debut campaign for his label read:

The 4 great American designers for men are:
R _ _ _ _ L _ _ _ _ _
P _ _ _ _ E _ _ _ _
C _ _ _ _ _ K _ _ _ _
T _ _ _ _ H _ _ _ _ _ _ _

At the bottom of the poster there was also the address to Hilfiger’s shop.
New York and the rest of the Americans understood immediately that the first three names are Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein. The last name, competely unknown, was comparing himself to all the famous designers! The ad was outrageous and this kind of arrogance (or confidence?) was never seen before.

“In most households, the first three names (Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein) are household words. Get ready for another. His name (hint) is Tommy. The second name is not so easy. But in a few short months everybody in America will know there’s a new look in town and a new name at the top. Tommy’s clothes are easy-going without being too casual, classic without being predictable. He calls them classics with a twist. The other three designers call them competition,“ read the campaign.



Unfortunately I could not be there myself, but suddenly the whole city was talking about the campaign and Tommy Hilfiger became an overnight sensation.
Hilfiger has said that if he hadn’t done this kind of campaign, he would probably be poor today.

Basically this campaign made Hilfiger think about his reputation more than ever because his career was on the line. And this campaign made him work harder than ever to justify the hopes.

Hilfiger has commented: „I rolled up my sleeves and worked harder than I ever thought I’d work. I knew there would be only one way to prove the naysayers wrong, and that would be to come out with amazing clothes, so I literally rolled up my sleeves and worked like an animal making sure that every button, every zipper, every button hole, every color, every fit, every fabric was to perfection.”

Video: Tommy Hilfiger ja George Lois. Video: MktgStudyGuide

The ad was and is nice and ambitious.
First. To include the names of your competitors is a brave step. Hilfiger considered the other three names competitors, but these three most likely not at all. It would be the same as someone would say that there is Agatha Christie and there is Arthur Conan Doyle and now he or she is the thirs one. As good as Christie and Conan Doyle but nobody knows about them yet.

Second. To not include regular people or super models or prdocuts in the fashion campaign was even a bolder step. Initially Hilfiger wanted to use models wearing his clothes, but the creative team banned the idea.

Third. The ad had also playfulness. The game of hangman is really simple and everyone wants to give a try. Even if you do not care about fashion at all, you want to take a guess and try to find out the answer. Understandable for all generations.

Fourth. Do you advertise on a small scale everywhere or strategically in one (and the most important) place? Hilfiger chose the second option. And for the United States there was no better place for billboards than Times Square. Maybe today this approach might not be so special at all, but we all know that posters, billboards and outdoor media will always stay with us.

And just to add some other ideas: also the logo of Tommy Hilfiger is a success. Timeless, American, minimalist.
The campaign always focused on the logo of Tommy Hilfiger, that use the same colours as the American flag – red, white and blue. And the letter H, which is the “H” for “Hilfiger”.

Together with the remarkable support of global consumer recognition, Tommy Hilfiger has been building an extensive distribution network in over 115 countries and more than 1,600 retail stores all over the world. Tommy’s web page says that global retail sales of the Tommy Hilfiger brand were US $6.5 billion in 2015.

Idea of the Day: when nobody knows about you, position yourself on the same level as your competitors.


Additional information:
Tommy Hilfiger home page

Another Mag – The Visual Language of Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfigeri logo. Pilt:

Nice to meet you, Mister W

A bulk movement of air on the surface of the Earth aka the wind is trying to find its place in society. He wanders around in the streets and everywhere he goes he causes chaos. Finally he finds someone who understands him. And this someone is the energy company Epuron and the German Ministry for the Environment.

The campaign “Power of the Wind” caught lots of attention with its sad, but happily ending commercial.
Let’s have a look at it.


Why did the campaign did so well, winning lots of awards all over Europe including Grand Prix in Cannes?

First. During the commercial you had no idea what role the sad giant plays. He wanders around and causes damage. Like King Midas, but the other way around – he slams the windows, throws sand in children’s eyes, turns the umbrella upside down and does other stupid things.

A little bit controversial is the image that the man doing all these stupid acts is elegantly dressed in black and wears a nice hat. Nobody pays attention to him which makes you think that maybe he is invisible. Or maybe persona non grata. Finally, there is one person who pays attention to him. And he invites him to take a seat on a park bench and they start talking. The friendly talk ends up with a job offer. And only now you finally get the whole point of what you have seen during the last 100 seconds.

Second. During the commercial you hear a monologue. A sad monologue. The man is alone but seems to be talking to us. Despite the fact the giant man does stupid things, his story is sad and makes you feel sorry for him.

Mister W. Screenshot from the video. Art of Ideas.

Third. You hear somber classical music in the background. Piano music while you see the giant trying to overcome frustration from people’s unkindly reactions.

And of course there is Guillaume Delaunay. A French actor who was smashing in his role. As we can imagine that the creative agency looked at lots of people, most likely hundreds of people who could be a perfect match. He was really believable in this role. If I have to say five words about wind and I could say whatever I want, then one of them would be Epuron and Delaunay.

It is pretty difficult to sum up this ad as there are many motives which made this ad famous and memorable. But the main thing that everyone remembers best of all is

Idea of the Day. Represent either your negative or positive fairy tale character, a phenomenon of nature or an imaginary element in a human form and make it work for your service/product and the society.

Life without vocational education

When it comes to making your career choices, we might often think which kind of future would we have either graduating from a university or from a vocational school. Higher education or vocational education? The easiest way to show the importance of the latter one is to show life without it.

Career choices are all about matching your skills, interests and personality with the future you would like to have. So it means that decisions about your future are one of the most difficult decisions young people have to make. If not the most difficult decision.

In a majority of countries higher education has been a more attractive choice for decades – graduating a university would mean better chances in the labour market and more prestigious jobs. According to different kind of statistics a bigger salary too. Young people have the tendency to believe that a degree would open doors for them once they want to find a job. But this might not be the case any more as there are less jobs available for the university graduates and more placements for the vocational qualifications.

So the whole situation is pretty much about the image. Even the ones who have been doubting about their future choices, they might choose the university programme. And anyway, we all know that there has always been a so to speak competition between higher education and vocational education.

So here is a German solution to all the ones doubting in the relevance of vocational education. The year was 2010. And the campaign (made by a company “Scholz & Friends”) was a big hit in TV, printed media and in many other communication channels.


Why is this advertisement remarkable?

Lots of different reasons for that. But the main reason is the fact that as we see the collapsing world we have no clue what the ad is about. Second (at least for a foreigner) – the charming nursery rhyme does not help us either. So we should see the ad until the end. And when we find out that all the carpenters, cobblers, brick-layers, masons, welders, bookmakers, designers and all other professions are the ones who help us live our lives the way we like it – we can only say – long live the vocational education!

And last but not least – the message was extremely simple.

The whole image campaign for the German craft and manual skills makes the social and economic relevance of this important industry visible to the public and also praises the local craftsmen and artisans themselves.

Idea of the Day: Just imagine life without your service or product.

Image from the video “Handwerk”.
Image from the video “Handwerk”.
Image from the video “Handwerk”.
Image from the campaign “Life without Craft. Sunday roast.”
Image from the campaign. “I don’t brew beer, I’m defending German reputation.”
Image from the campaign. “In the beginning there was heaven and earth. The rest was done by us.”
Image from the campaign. “I’m not only a skilled worker. I am the engine that makes Germany work.”
Image of the campaign. “I don’t repair the engine. I am letting the heart beat again.”


“Size matters” the Australian way

Australian brewery Carlton Draught made 10 years ago a television advertisement that shook both the man on the street and the creative world. Both in Australia and in the rest of the world, amongst men and women, amongst drinkers and non-drinkers.

Let’s check the advertisement first:

It’s a big ad. Very big ad. It’s a big ad we’re in. It’s a big ad. My God it’s big! Can’t believe how big it is! It’s a big ad! For Carlton Draught! It’s just so freaking HUGE! It’s a big ad! Expensive ad! This ad better sell some bloo-oo-oo-oody beer!

Anyway – Carlton Draught is one of Australia’s most popular tap beers and one of their most known slogans is “Made from beer”.

So why was this ad “Big ad” so successful?

First of all because of its size. We could see lots of people, lots of coordinated activities. Men wearing choir uniforms are up to something. And when viewed from the air, the choirs forming respectively the shape of the beer glass “Carlton Draught” and a human body, you just cannot leave that unnoticed. According to all kind of advertising theories you must have caught the attention of all the people around.


Second – the classical music. Carmina Burana by Carl Orff is one of the most overused musical pieces, but right here right now together with couple of hundreds of people it sounded fresh and powerful. The text of the ad is really brief and succinct and understandable for everybody. To wrap it up – we got to know that it is a really big and expensive ad and hopefully the ad helps to sell more beer. No further discussion.

Third. Quality matters both in making the ad and marketing communications. The creative force behind the ad was one of the best agencies in Australia and many experts with an extensive experience were involved (for example the directors of photography Andrew Lesnie from the “Lord of the Rings”).

The marketing activities began with the advertisement streamed on the Internet. Streamed as long as it went viral. In some weeks the video got more than 2 million views and in more than 130 countries. Do not forget that Youtube was not a major player at that time.

Fourth. It was actually a really simple idea. Without hearing the sound of the ad we can see a process of beer drinking: beer enters the body in a happy and cheerful way.


Of course, as we see the New Zealand mountain range in the background we might get some kind of ideas. Many bloggers and critics have referred that the Big Ad resembles or even makes a little bit fun of the style of the “Lord of the Rings” films as nature and mountains were a big issue and one of the keywords was freedom. One observation from the gender equality topic. Despite the fact that the ad has lots of people involved, we can only see men in the advertisement. Maybe the idea was to fix the stereotype that beer is for real men and Carlton Draught is made for men. The ad is really powerful and who wouldn’t want to belong to the group of powerful people?

Humour and the punch-line make you feel good and gives you an idea to go and get something from the freezer.

Idea of the Day: Visualize the core point of your product/service by using the movements of large groups of people.

45 minutes of fireplace footage with Nick Offerman

I guess you remember those videos and screensavers with hours of fireplace footage in different restaurants, bars or other places? Especially at Christmas time? Like they would make the atmosphere more cozy and give you a Christmas feeling?  Or maybe the reason is that you can watch fire without the fear of setting yout own house on fire.

Although you may not want to see those fireplace videos for a long time (like until next Christmas), then think again. Would you accept as an added bonus the fact that you can celebrate Christmas by watching Nick Offerman sitting in an armchair for 45 minutes and drinking Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch?

This ad is brilliant.
First of all –  because it does not seem like an ad. Would you ever consider as an advertisement a 45 minute long video? Especially the one with no conversation or other particular sound whatsoever?

Second – it is a pretty ironic video when it comes to all the fireplace video fans. Those of us who don’t live in Nordic winter wonderlands or do not have fireplaces in our apartments/houses might really consider using fireplace videos to create an artificial “winter feeling” or “Christmas feeling”. But here we basically have the same thing except as a bonus we can enjoy the presence of a bearded guy who just looks at you and drinks a glass of whiskey.


Third –  this bearded guy is not a random guy from the neighbourhood, but the actor who portrayed a famous fictional character Ron Swanson from the television series “Parks and Recreations”. Swanson has a masculine personality and dislikes the government, is really superironic and tries to make his employer (city hall) less effective. Besides that Swanson loves woodworking,  hunting, meat, and a whisky called Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch.

Fourth –  this Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch is the favourite whisky of the actor Nick Offerman. Offerman had the option to give his input into the Swanson’s character and some characteristic features of Offerman were added to the characther Swanson – like the love for woodwork and for the 16-year-old Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch. If ou could pick one actor to sell your own whiskey, who wouldn’t want to choose Offerman?

The British multinational alcoholic beverages company Diageo has done wonderful work. Diageo partnered with an actor and scotch enthusiast Nick Offerman to produce genuine content called My Tales of Whisky. Offerman does not need to do anything too complicated, he can be himself and advertise the whiskeys in a pleasant and natural way. The video “Nick Offerman’s ‘Yule Log'” has more than 2 million views and soon it will be 3 million viewers.

I would say that Lagavulin Scotch came up with one of the best whiskey ads ever.

I would strongly recommend showing this video on repeat mode during Christmas instead of these regular fireplace footages. Because this video is a real holiday classic. Nothing can ruin the holiday magic as you just do not have to exchance any words at all. As they say:  it is a true friendship when friends can be in silence and they do not have to say a single word. When the silence between two friends is comfortable.

Idea of the Day: When having a splendid idea, use celebrities in your ads who like your product anyway.

Offerman lagavulin3 Lagavulin_ideasofart

Public transportation is all you need

How to make public transportation popular? Nothing too complicated with that. Just show that a ride with a regional bus company is the most awesome thing ever.

This is exactly what a Danish company Midttrafik did in the year 2012. So how can a bus ride give you such an experience that you would basically forget yourself?
First of all – the bus driver shouldn’t be a regular bloke, but the driver should be cool. Then you should have seats, and preferably comfortable. Then the bus should enable you to look out of the window, but not only. A magnificent bus rides includes gigantic panorama windows with a fantastic view!

A cool bus also includes “designer bells with cool functions”, which in a less elegant wording means that if you want the bus to make a stop in the next stop, you can push the “Stop” button. In a cool bus you will appreciate the fact that on a sharp curve or on a bumpy road the handles are for free. And of course, cool buses have their own lane. That’s all you need.

Screenshot from the commercial “Midttrafik – The Bus”.

A totally mindblowing fact is that Midtrafik buses are big and long. And another unbelievable fact is that the bus also drives at night.

In an industry like public transportation the user experience is never too good, but this Sus commercial makes you feel that a bus ride that Midtrafik can give you will make you feel really special.

To sum up: a bus ride with public transportation has never been cooler than with Midtrafik.

Idea of the Day: Find out the most basic or even banal positive sides of the product or service and show them with a sense of humour!

Monopoly vs real life

Have a guess, which is one of the most frustrating, but nevertheless one of the most famous board games in the world? Yes, it is Monopoly. Hasbro, the maker of the board game, says that Monopoly is the most populaar board game brand. Although most of the Monopoly commercials and advertisements do not surprise you at all, then sometimes it is possible to find real pearls in the advertising history. Here I will introduce you some nice work made for the Spanish audience.

To wrap up the game for those who have never played it before: every player tries to own all the properties so that they would have a monopoly over the board and the other players have to pay you basically anywhere they land. So that in the end there can be only one seller in the market. Although Monopoly is considered to be a game of strategy, then luck plays a big role in the game. Besides that the ending of the game is a real agony as you know on half way who is going to win.


Monopoly is not one of the best (actually, far from it), but undeniably on of the most famous board games in the world. Maybe a hundred years ago it might have been one of the best, but not any more – time has moved on and we know many more versatile games.

We have to give some credit too – Monopoly has been on sale for more than a century and this can only be thanks to successful business model and marketing. Today we know a huge amount of Monopoly editions – beginning with real estate and most known brands business ending with Angry Birds, Star Wars and Sponge Bob Monopoly board games.

In general the Monopoly advertisements are simplistic and childish (like this:, and oriented for kids. But still – there are some masterpieces here and there.

Here you can see couple of Spanish commercials where some essential elements of the game (eviction and prison) have been brought to real life. Just imagine the situation where you watch TV and in the middle of the cat food and washing up liquid advertisements you will commercials like this.

Monopoly commercial – Prison
Made: 2004, Spain

Monopoly commercial – Eviction
Made: 2004, Spain


Idea of the Day: Bring the elements of your product or service to real life.