Anything is possible in the upside-down world of today’s politics. The election of the US President has become a reality TV show. A single ‘ghost’ ad with no logo and zero budget can start a global political ad campaign. And what began as a roughly-finished idea tweeted after an internal creative competition can win awards against some of the best agencies in the world.
Art director Stephen O’Neill created an anti-Trump poster back in May, winning AML’s creative showcase competition. (The runner-up was pretty good too, a campaign against added sugar in food.) As usual, we tweeted the winning idea. No logo, Republican Party red and white and a similar typeface made some people think it was by The Economist. The Economist was heard to chuckle.
Over the course of a weekend the tweet was picked up in Singapore and travelled to Texas. We needed to take some credit, so AML’s social media team acted to make sure people knew it was ours. The ad gained millions of views, becoming the most-shared story on The Poke, topping Imgur’s most-viral chart and stayed as the lead story on Adweek in the USA – an article asking whether such a ‘ghost’ ad might actually change voter opinion.
Quite a lot of people said they liked the campaign, in real life as well as on Twitter. One or two prospective clients even turned up looking for similarly simple, effective ideas. Then a few well-placed sources asked us why we hadn’t pushed the idea still further. So we did.
Donald Trump joined AML’s client list. A video version of the ad and more shareable assets were boosted by paid-for social and search, gaining twice the huge exposure of the original viral. With the help of outdoor contractors Ocean, Plus and Maxx, giant digital posters appeared across the UK. And Trump-style campaign hats were sent to key influencers with DON’T on the front and ‘AML – Making Advertising Great Again’ on the back. Famous people were spotted wearing them.
It didn’t stop Donald Trump getting elected, but the campaign worked. AML got noticed by a lot of media commentators and marketing decision-makers. And the campaign won ‘Best Agency Marketing’ at the highly-competitive Oystercatchers Club awards, where judge Keith Moor (chief marketing officer for Santander) was quoted in Campaign praising AML’s “single-minded approach to what the agency would deliver for a client.”
Simple ideas for complicated issues – and for complicated businesses – is what we do at AML. That’s what the DON’T campaign was about. And as politicians like Donald Trump make the world a more noisy, more unsettled place for all of us, we believe there’s more need for simple, effective ideas than ever before.