As part of Ad Age's latest annual Awards Report tabulating the most creatively celebrated companies and personalities of the year, we asked winning marketers and agencies about their campaigns.
Imagine selling the "Beauty Inside" original social film to a chief marketing officer. "It's about this guy Alex who's in love with this antique shop girl, but every day he wakes up with as a different person. And he never knows who he'll be until he looks in the mirror -- maybe a bald middle-aged man, maybe an elderly Asian lady. But he can't stop trying to reach the girl. And each day he chronicles every new 'person' on his Intel-powered Toshiba laptop. We'll call it 'Beauty Inside', as in the beauty inside the ever-changing Alex and inside the laptop. Get it?"
That was the job of Billie Goldman, Intel partner marketing manager, although it didn't play out exactly like that. "Beauty Inside" - the recipient of 23 awards including a daytime Emmy and two top Cannes Lions - was the second social film created with agency partner Pereira & O'Dell for Intel and Toshiba. The initial success helped pave the way for a third film, "Power Inside," that ran this summer.
Did you ever second-guess yourself on the idea?
It was actually our second social film. The first, a year before, was a scary thriller concept but when we heard the idea [from the agency], we weren't sure it matched our brand voice… so we asked the agency to go back and come up with ideas in other genres. They came back with six concepts and 'Beauty Inside' was one of them, and we fell in love. But we ended up deciding that for our first feature film we would move forward with the thriller concept, and said if we ever had the opportunity to do a second social film, the 'Beauty Inside' would be it. … To tell you the truth it was supposed to be a romantic comedy, but the comedy never came through. That was the choice of the director, who really steered how it went.
Why didn't you do the 'Beauty Inside' idea first?
At the time we felt a thriller was the right way to go to a more techie audience, versus a romantic direction.
What kind of guts or fortitude did it take to go in with this unconventional marketing idea?
Bravery, I think is what it takes (laughs). And a desire for risk, and a passion for innovation. Fortunately, Intel has that passion for innovation. We are awarded money to do marketing activities based on the level of innovation. And luckily we have a great partner in Toshiba that was willing to take the risk with us.
What do you mean by awarded money?
Intel has different ways of funding activities. Some of the dollars we had to play with were based on innovation and without that high level of innovation, we would not have received that bucket of money to do what we did.
So the higher ups were already interested in innovation, but how did you get the buy in for this specific idea?
[The challenge] was selling it around the world. We had the opportunity to do a worldwide marketing summit with Toshiba and bring [everyone] together to get as many countries on board. What we [could offer] from Intel HQ was the investment in the production, so their investment would be in the media space instead of the production space. That really helped sell in the concept.
What advice would you offer on how to push the creative envelope but still get results and show return on investment?
It all comes down to the exchange of value with the audience. If you're giving them something of value, then it's a winner. Also taking risks is a good thing. We need to do more of that - the audience rewards you for it. … If you're having a hard time selling in something big, start small. We did that with the first film, starting with the U.S. and then growing beyond that. If the concept is scalable and repeatable, that also helps with long-term success.