With a budget of $1 million, the study-aid publisher hopes to attract its 12-to-25-year-old target market with radio spots airing in 14 markets and a TV execution placed exclusively on MTV.
Cliffs Notes traditionally has used print ads picturing, as Bill Winchester, creative director at agency Colle & McVoy, Minneapolis, said, "Smart-looking preppy kids with books."
Colle, which had handled only Cliffs Notes' study-aid software, won the entire account a year ago, succeeding longtime agency Swanson & Russell, Lincoln, Neb.
MAKING BRAND 'COOL & FUN'
"We wanted to make the brand cool and fun," said Dave Keepper, the spot's copywriter, "so we thought the best way to do that is to get some cool and fun kids."
The teens in the spot watch as a firefighter in a parade lights a Roman candle that goes off course and hits a float depicting fire safety. "That's irony," says one boy, after paging through his Cliffs Notes. "Dramatic irony," says his friend, as the burning float ignites a bookmobile-an allusion to "Fahrenheit 451," the novel whose Cliffs Notes the boys consult.
The tagline: "Cliffs is the shortcut to understanding."
"A shortcut to understanding is just that," said Kelly Jo Hinrichs, Cliffs