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It Takes a Village. I Repeat, It Takes a Village...
By: Brian Keller
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Operation: Present
Holiday Time 2015, BBDO (Atlanta and New York offices) produced a 60-second holiday ad for AT&T calling on viewers to be “present” during the holidays.

A family is prepping for the holidays. The family includes a teen girl. They pick lights for a tree, there's ice-skating with the family, and they have all kinds of American family fun. But what gives? Our adolescent is, OMG, preoccupied with her cell phone, much to the dismay and disappointment of her dad. Well, that’s a nasty bit of unexpected business coming from a teen. Double OMG! Fun time was represented in a montage of compelling shots. The non-participation of the teen illustrated that all teenagers should drown in their own blood.

Enough of that, and hold on! OMG! Let’s go back to AT&T (2015). The young girl is not an uncaring morose teen who makes you feel depressed at the thought of breeding; she's a superhero kid. She gives her dad her phone (nicely wrapped) so she can be more present for the holiday. The commercial is called “Present.”

It’s déjà vu all over again.

After watching this commercial, we were transported to “Hey, I’ve Been There Before” Land. Beforeland starred an uncaring, miserable, holiday-avoiding morose boy who was preoccupied with his cell phone during family fun holiday time. Fun time was represented in a montage of compelling shots. The non-participation of the teen illustrated that all teenagers should drown in their own blood.

Enough of that, and hold on! OMG! Let’s go back to Apple iPhone (2013). The boy’s not an uncaring, morose teen that makes you feel depressed at the thought of breeding; he’s a superhero kid. He has made his family a film of their holiday adventures, all shot and then cut beautifully on an Apple iPhone! He was just misunderstood and was actually present the whole time. OMG! The commercial is called “Misunderstood.”

And OMG! The déjà vu went away as one ad was about a phone and the other was about a phone but it was brought to you by a service provider. That takes care of that.

Everyone Needs Credit in Advertising
Now that that’s over, let’s look at what kind of person power it took for BBDO to make AT&T’s holiday ad (the only ad they ran through the holiday season).

Let’s see. You have to have the client. It is unknown in this world how many on the client side were involved, so let’s be conservative with: 3.

Then, of course, you need:
  • (BBDO) Your Chief Creative Officer: He/she can make sure there are plenty of people to blame who are not him/her if something goes wrong.
    • 1
  • Chief Creative Officer New York: If the Chief Creative Officer expires, he/she is there to make sure that Donald Trump doesn’t take over.
    • 1
  • Executive Creative Director: Bosses everyone around except the people he/she can’t boss around.
    • 1
  • SR. Creative Director: He/she is very important as he/she has “senior” in his title.
    • 1
  • Executive Creative Director: Because there are no Creative Directors anymore.
    • 1
  • SR. Creative Director: This one was listed below the Executive Creative Director – on the way out. Upon leaving, he/she will announce the establishment of his/her new “shop” along with the Sr. Creative Director below.
    • 1
  • SR. Creative Director: (Look up at the previous listing).
    • 1
  • Associate Creative Director: The teenagers of the Creative Department; they have titles and not much power
    • 1
  • Associate Creative Director: Plotting against the ACD above.
    • 1
  • Director of Integrated Production: You need someone to integrate so there will be integration.
    • 1
  • Group Executive Producer: Very important, as he/she has “group” and “executive” in his/her title, so he/she can always explain away the poor behavior of others.
    • 1
  • Executive Producer: Could be boss of Group Executive Producer or not.
    • 1
  • Music Producer: Someone other than composers and musicians must produce the music.
    • 1
  • SR. Group Account Director: Again, all groups need to be directed by seniors.
    • 1
  • Account Director: Have no clue, but there were:
    • 3
  • Production Company
    • 5 (conservative) not including the director
  • Director (Oops, Directors): They sell a vision to the agency. On the shoot, the agency does what it wants.
    • 2
  • Director of Photography: Most people listen to him, as they are afraid of the matte box on the camera(s) and all the rigs, dollies, jibs, cranes and…and and and.
    • 1
  • Executive Producer(s): People who ask for money for overages from the agency and don’t get it.
    • 3
  • Head of Production: Someone who is usually sane.
    • 1
  • Editor: Someone who sells his/her vision to the directors before the directors are removed from the process by the agency.
    • 4 (editor, plus 3 staff — conservative as to staff)
  • Audio Engineer: Usually someone who is left alone, as no one can do audio. All take it for granted that anyone with “engineer” in the title must be good.
    • 1
  • Colorist: Not the hair kind, the film/video kind. Important as they set the color of the material that is shot. Usually left alone except by Art Directors – oops, no Art Directors or Copywriters listed here.
    • 1
  • Music Company: One really good composer and staff who usually manage not to laugh when the hundred people in the suite ask for different things but universally ask for something different in a manner such as: “Can you do it cerebrally like the “Beatles” but give it a “Killers” sound but make it not as angst-ridden as Coldplay or Passenger and maybe a touch of Nas like the cool stuff in Illmatic?” They will also ask the v/o talent to put a smile in his/her voice.
    • 5 (conservative)
  • Conform: No one knows what he or she does, so they are left alone.
    • 1
Add them up, and you should come up with 44 people (at minimum) who took an already tepid and previously produced concept (holiday home, family, apparent mega-disturbed teenager — surprise, they are nice) and executed it not that well. The 44 people who made the commercial have prominent credits listing their names. If you called any one of these people in their offices you would probably never get through unless you were a client or potential client. No one cares about that, but where are the ideas?

Operation Neptune Spear
In the early morning of May 1, 2011 (U.S. time) 25 (nameless) United States Navy SEALS, in two Black Hawk helicopters, flew into Abbottabad, Pakistan from Afghanistan and killed Osama Bin Laden. The operation took 40 minutes. Most Americans can tell you what a SEAL is and what a SEAL does, and most have a fairly good idea of how that mission was realized. Can anyone out there reconstruct how old ideas keep getting realized? The best answer gets tickets to the new movie Point Break.

We know a SEAL. His home number is listed. We called him. He picked up.

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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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