One hit wonders.

30 million people have watched this video on TikTok

But this isn’t one of those ‘3 things we can learn from the Ocean Spray guy‘ type blogs.

If anything it’s the opposite.

Because I don’t believe there’s much to be learned, at least anything that can be directly put in any kind of structural creative or strategic plan. There’s a lot to be admired and observed, sure, but viral videos have existed since the birth of the internet and agencies and creatives have been asked by clients to create viral films since the first ones took off in the mid nineties. And sometimes it even works.

Why wouldn’t you want to go viral? make a cheap film that captures the imagination, put it out there for free and get the same coverage as a Super Bowl ad.

It’s that easy.

They have a saying in Hollywood that ‘nobody knows anything’. Which essentially means that you can have the biggest stars, the best directors and special effects and screenwriters and you still have zero guarantee of success.

Yes, there’s always the superhero movies, a franchise that’s more or less guaranteed to deliver the bucks, but for every one of those there’s a ‘Paranormal activity’ or ‘Blaire Witch’ or ‘Get out’ which nobody anticipated.

And when you try and replicate their success you get weaker, derivative pale imitations of them as a result, the law of diminishing returns.

Jaws 4 anyone?

Because like a one hit wonder (when ‘hits’ were a thing back in the seventies) a tune or a look or an idea can be thrilling and life affirming by a series of strange coincidences or aligning of the stars. A galactic anomaly that just needs to be admired and observed for its singular celestial beauty.

There have always been these wondrous-one-hit-wonders in adland too.

One that somehow got past all the traditional notions of an advertising idea or campaign and just leapfrogged straight in to legend status was the gorilla on the drums ad for Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Universally lauded for its originality and its sheer joyfulness – that magical blend of music and film proved hard for the agency to replicate. It’s not necessarily fair to say it had no idea, it did, it was about sheer joy. But man, talk about re-inventing the wheel every time.

Anyone remember the follow up ad? ( It was hotly anticipated, and featured airport trolly’s and vehicles in a race on a runaway set to Queen’s Don’t stop me now)

No, not many do.

An earlier eighties famous one-hit-wonder was the burning Cane field for Peugeot 405, with the ‘Takes my breath away’ track which, when I was at Euro RSCG, we spent years trying to match but never quite did. Because what was it actually? We knew it looked good, because flames always do and it had a great track that clients loved. But it wasn’t a formula you could really discern and so we were usually forced to pick a tune and reverse a film in to it – because the client just wanted it done over and over again.

(Watching it back just now the overwhelming and terrifying semiotics is Australian or Californian bushfires)

So what of the Ocean Spray guy?

As wonderful and inspiring as this guy’s TikTok film is will we be seeing his follow up film? Will he be starting up his own ad agency because he knows something we don’t? Will he even get a job in an agency?

No, no and probably not.

The brilliance of it is in its simplicity and it’s anti-advertisingness.

Truth be told even if an agency pitched that exact film, no client would buy it. ( Too old guy, dangerous activity, can’t see the product properly) No regulatory body would approve it (dangerous activity on a public highway)

And that’s ok.

So what has all this got to do with Pharma?

In Pharma we continue to bang away selling one hit wonders. Clients love them!

A brand image that goes on everything has traditionally been seen by many as a campaign.

And some are very successful, but when it comes round for a refresh the agency is stuck in an unrepeatable catch 22. The equivalent of shooting another guy on the skateboard or putting the same guy on a bike and choosing an Eagles track, not a Fleetwood Mac one.

It’s almost impossible to do.

But give them a true campaign idea that can work in different vehicles or mediums unrestricted by one execution and agencies have the ability to reinvent ad infinitum.

So what we can learn from the ocean spray guy and how can you produce a one hit wonder?

Like I said, nobody knows anything. But give your creatives a free reign and let them be inspired and you never know.

Somebody wins the lottery every week. You just need to enter.

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