Thursday, July 12, 2012

The day Campaign Palace faced the schizophrenics

The older cohort of marketing types are looking back with some nostalgia at the evaporation of The Campaign Palace, the iconic creative hothouse circa the 70s to the 90s.

Some of their great work is featured here and I've heard much commentary about the demise of advertising creative in the age of YouTube since the announcement of the Palace's closure.

I did have some experience of Campaign Palace in the late 1980s. I was employed at then travel powerhouse, Jetset, in those years. I learned a lot - mostly about how bad agency briefings could be.

In one particular instance, I recall feeling pity, even remorse for even turning up, for Palace account director, John Poulakakis, who in Palace's dimly lit black boardroom faced a house divided. You see, like most travel wholesaler / retailers, we were not used to paying our own marketing bills - or at least not 100% of them.

For the most part, campaigns were funded by airline partners and anyone else you could rope in. Hence the rise and rise of the schizophrenic brief. On the one hand, we wanted campaigns that would build the brand of the fledgling Jetset Travel Centre retail network, on the other, in this particular instance, there was our 50% owner, Air New Zealand, who wanted to fill trans-Tasman seats in a damn hurry.

I'll never forget John's exasperation towards the end of the two hour briefing or, should I say, debate. The brand development brief around warm, caring Jetset retail types did not mesh easily with the frantic, price-driven rush to fill aircraft seats.

It was brand building versus tactical imperatives and, of course, who was picking up the tab. The meeting ended with no resolution and a Palace resolve to try to accommodate both briefs. I'll never forget the end result - half page newspaper advertisements divided in two, half featuring the Jetset Travel Centre positioning, the other the last-minute seat sale.

It was not a campaign that The Campaign Palace would later feature in its portfolio and, I note, one which does not feature in the highlights package. That meeting taught me much about putting crap in and getting crap out - whether you're programming a computer, or briefing an agency.

We did enjoy some good times with the guys at The Campaign Palace, but our schizophrenia soon resulted in a parting of the ways.

The key to their success was identifying the key message and developing creative that delivered it in an effective and memorable way. In their day, they were certainly the Antz Pantz in advertising (still so hot!).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any thoughts on this, drop them here...