Campaign of the Year: HP

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Surely there are better ways to measure a campaign's creativity quotient, but sheer volume of ink spilled in the pages of Creativity is one particularly handy indicator of the impact of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners' HP campaign this year. Goodby rolled out the new branding work for HP near the end of 2002, starting with the striking "Anthem" spot, which linked HP technology to bigger and cooler things-Dreamworks' imagemaking, FedEx's efficiency, BMW's Formula 1 need for speed-and introduced the "+" HP design and the "Everything is possible" tag. They followed with the Fredrik Bond-directed "Digital Crime Fighting," which was lovely but only a warmup to the pool of spots to come in 2003. This year, HP became the buzz campaign through the industry, as the agency tapped some of the best directorial talent available to execute spot after arresting spot of eye-popping and relevant imagery, the ads building on each other to render formerly square HP a magnetic new personality. Eyebrows went up earlier this spring with the release of the "Bang & Olufsen" spot, which featured trippy visual manifestations of sound, courtesy of Passion Pictures' Tim Hope. The beautiful black and white "Wind," directed by @radical's Ralf Schmerberg (who also directed "Anthem") came complete with French voiceover and a moody, contemporary classical music soundtrack which accompanies a wind-borne camera ride through Paris. The hits just kept coming with "Restore," directed by Omaha's Rupert Sanders and "FTD," which tapped Anonymous' Andrew Douglas, followed by what is perhaps the sweetest spot yet-the Frank Budgen-directed "The Next Shift" (which followed the "You" spot, which, though technically part of a different, digital photography campaign, leveraged the newly created HP look and feel, and with its Cure soundtrack and "moving pictures" look was as affecting as it was effective).

"The Next Shift" cleverly harnesses the emotional attachment most any Westerner has to certain toys. In the spot, we see the playthings making their way to "work" through the mean streets of Manhattan-Slinky somersaulting down a lonely apartment stairwell, Elmo riding down an industrial-style elevator, Spider-Man clinging to the outside of a subway car-as HP technology is linked to Toys R Us. "The '+' device originated during HP's merger proxy campaign, in which we did a device that read 'HP + Compaq,'" says GSP creative director Steve Simpson. "It later came in handy to tout HP's fairly amazing partnerships: 'NYSE + HP,' 'NASA + HP,' 'Porsche + HP' and so on." The original ads were designed by John Norman, Steve Luker (who is no longer at the agency) and Hunter Hindman. "While we found the '+' device handy," says Simpson, "it became bigger than we ever thought it would. The more we played with this simple thing, the more interesting it became."

This year, expect to see more. The "You" spot was only the beginning of the consumer-focused commercials-HP is in the process of launching over 150 new gadgets into the consumer marketplace. Those spots will supplement, not replace the partnerships effort. The people at GSP had better get their little nylon shorts and trainers on-that bar that everyone talks about could hardly be raised any higher.

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