2008 Creativity Award Winner: Tide: Interview

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Maybe you've been there—in an important meeting or, in this case, a job interview, feeling like the stain on your shirt from lunch is outshining whatever charisma you're trying to eke out. The stain anxiety and related self-consciousness took shape for Tide's Tide-To-Go stain-erasing pen in "Interview," in which a boorish, gibberish-spouting blob of schmutz blabs over an applicant and thoroughly disgusts his potential boss. The spot won a Silver Lion at Cannes and was then chosen by P&G for inclusion in the Super Bowl. The deftness with which "Interview" imparts not just a brand benefit but a life lesson earns it a Creativity Award honor.

Q&A with former Saatchi & Saatchi, N.Y. ECDs and Johannes Leonardo Co-Founders Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico

What sort of brief did "Interview" begin with?

Premutico: It was a very specific product brief; they had a product that had a clear point of difference: you could remove a stain on the go. The job of the advertising was to make that message entertaining.

What did some of the early scripts look like, or did the talking stain come on pretty quickly?

Premutico: It was one of those ideas that as a script could have gone a number of ways. Calle [Astrand, the director] did a fantastic job to get the humor right; if the stain didn't have the ambiguity it had at the moment, it would have looked too much like a character and have felt contrived as an idea.

Jacobs: I think Dan [Lucey, AD] and Nathan [Frank, CD] did a fantastic job. They were on it for quite a few weeks but this was a clear winner. The way that Calle shot it, it's this Nordic sensibility—it added an interesting perspective. He just let the camera roll; there were a lot of moments where actors were just sitting there, these long silences. Even though you end up with a :30 spot to have a choice of these long silences, it's nice. He very much brought that to the spot. We pushed really hard for the stain to be cheaply done in a low-tech kind of way. In a world of CGI to do a spot that is naturally, simply done, it stands out. Take the Super Bowl. This was probably the lowest budget there, it was surrounded by these big budget productions, and it turns out to be one of the favorite spots of the viewers. If you have a strong insight, it's reassuring to know you don't need a massive budget or a special effects effort to entertain people now.

When did the Super Bowl talk start? Was showing at the big game originally the intent?

Jacobs: It wasn't made for the Super Bowl. It just gathered momentum and I think P&G was quite interested in the idea that there would be a lot of people watching this, eating food, probably a lot of stains going on. It was a relevant time to get it out there. This is only the second time Proctor has been in the Super Bowl in its history—this time with a laundry detergent. We found them to be a particularly brave client despite what people think.

What role does creativity play today when it comes to building a brand?

Premutico: I think it puts emphasis on the creativity to be honest about what the product actually offers. Within seconds, the product is exposed. But also it gives creativity much more value, because the playing field is evened out. It's ironic, because we're talking about the Super Bowl here, but if you have an idea that resonates with them and is conveyed in an entertaining way you can get to those people.

Jacobs: I actually think the Super Bowl media buy is not to be scoffed at. You have to not waste the opportunity. It spoke about the other sponsors there, too—just because you have the opportunity doesn't mean you're utilizing it. When you get those eyes on the job make sure that you're saying the right things.

Check out more of the 2008 Creativity Award winners.
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