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High Five: John Mescall


President of the global creative community at McCann Worldgroup showcases a broad spectrum of possibilities of how to successfully connect with an audience

High Five: John Mescall

Reflecting on what I think makes good advertising, all the work I love and admire almost always has at least one of these five qualities at its core: brutal honesty, feeling over thinking, oddness, intelligence or an actual idea. So I’ve selected five pieces that exemplify each of these qualities. If you can get even one of these into anything you make, you’re onto something good...

Volkswagen - 'It’s Ugly But It Gets You There'

Agency: DDB New York

Honesty may well be the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. Telling the absolute, unadorned truth in a compelling and creative way has led to some of advertising’s finest moments. No surprise, given that’s the stock-in-trade of all great comedians and even artists. The VW campaign of the 60’s kickstarted the creative revolution and showed an entire industry that truth beats hyperbole every time.

Cadbury - 'Gorilla'

Agency: Fallon London
Production: Blink
Post: MPC
Editorial: Final Cut
Sound: Wave Studios

Advertising can be simple if we allow it to be. And often the simplest, most powerful and effective ads are those that prioritise feeling over thinking. Emotion over logic. Cadbury 'Gorilla' is one of the most iconic commercials ever made, in large part because of the brief. 'Eating Cadbury’s chocolate makes you feel good.' Clear, simple and leaves enough space for creativity to take the lead. The way this ad makes you feel is the way eating Cadbury chocolate will make you feel. Seems too simple a premise, but complexity is never our friend.

H2Oh! Braids

Agency: BBDO Argentina
Production: Argentinacine
Director: Augusto Giménez Zapiola

The odd kid at school. The odd one out. Life doesn’t always make it easy for oddities to thrive, but advertising’s a different beast. You need to embrace the odd, the weird, the absurd. You need to be able to take what, on paper, sounds like a dull brief (a soda the whole family will love) and turn it into something that, a decade after I first saw it, I still love and remember.


Agency: Nordpol Hamburg

Watch enough advertising and it’s clear that as an industry we don’t always (or aren’t always allowed to) respect the intelligence of our audience. But when we do, it can lead to work that captivates and stays with you forever. I was going to pick any number of witty, beautifully written print ads, but went with this timeless German film that thankfully allowed the viewer to close the loop for themselves. It’s great not just because the idea and craft is perfection, but it knew exactly how much to tell us, and exactly how much to allow us to discover for ourselves.

Snickers - 'You’re Not You When You’re Hungry'

Agency: BBDO New York
Production: MJZ
Director: Craig Gillespie

There’s nothing wrong with one-off pieces of brilliance, but 'You’re Not You When You’re Hungry' really is the pinnacle of what we mean when we say ‘but what’s the idea?’ A perfectly constructed creative platform that is dead simple, has a single product benefit at the core and gives every single person who ever creates to it a more than reasonable chance to make something at least better than good. I can only hope the clients don’t get bored with this anytime soon...

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McCann Worldgroup, Wed, 18 May 2022 11:30:05 GMT