Brilliance Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune

Pringles Proves a Massive Production Budget Isn't Necessary for Success

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Bart Cleveland Bart Cleveland
One of the chief complaints of small agencies is that we don't have budgets big enough to do great work. We look to the winners in our award shows as proof. And that is usually where we are slapped in the face for our lack of commitment to be brilliant.

Case in point: the Pringles web banner that was awarded at Cannes. You can't get any more "low budget." It looks like the agency used a couple of interns for the models and shot the photograph on a cell phone. And yet, it's brilliant. The writing is the star of the piece. Just when you think it's gone as far as it can go, it keeps going. A great job on a nothing budget.

It makes you wonder what the conversation was like when the creative team was given the job.

AE: "We need a small web banner for Pringles."
AD: "Can it be rich media?"
AE: "No."
CW: "Can it have flash?"
AE: "No."
AD: "Do we have a photo budget?"
AE: "No."
CW: "Do we have a decent deadline this time?"
AE: "No."
AD: "I noticed the brief says the objective is to sell Pringles. Is there any other insight?"
AE: "No."
CW: "OK. So we're stoked. Thanks."

I dare say that the creative team didn't skip away in exuberance. But they obviously did decide that they were not going to be denied. They took all of the lack of opportunity and turned it on its ear. Hats off to them for not giving in.

A production budget probably would have gotten in the way of greatness. That's the point of my observation. The first thing you should rely upon is between your ears. Even if you have a budget, pretend you don't. Succeed without the need of big production money, so when you have it you will be even better.

We all want better budgets because it makes the box of possibilities a little bigger. I admit that it is a frustration. Ironically, the most successful creative solutions I've been a part of were some of the least expensive to produce. Another irony is that the more money that is involved, the more layers of decision-makers are involved concerning the work. And the more people that are involved, well I don't need to continue, do I?

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