Catching Up With Draftfcb, Before Tuesday (May 1)
May 1, 2012 by Andrew Schneider
Six months after they first had Screen in for a visit, Draftfcb Chicago President Michael Fassnacht and Chief Creative Officer Todd Tilford invited us back to catch-up on a string of new business wins that they say recaptures half of the volume they lost when SC Johnson Company left the agency. That was before Tuesday’s news that Draftfcb had lost the MillerCoors account.
While that blow is certainly substantial, the two agency leaders appropriately celebrated a variety of well crafted work for accounts such as KFC, the NHL Taco Bell, Dow Chemical and, of course, MillerCoors, especially the revival of the “Miller Time” a concept that had in recent years been supplanted by a torrent of buffoonery from MillerCoors but also most other major brewers.
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Fassnacht said then, about a week ago during a series of press interviews the agency conducted, that they’d hired almost one hundred people to staff up and still had 60 positions open, though they couldn’t tell me yesterday what impact the MillerCoors news would have on those positions.
What remains as real, good news for the agency, is the respect Tilford has garnered for his focus on the art of advertising, as typified by their recent Clio nomination for “Shelter Pet” and even the Miller Lite campaigns.
For the Miller Lite campaigns that will continue airing at least through the fall, Tilford says that they intended to bring “cool” back to the brand and category, instead of that buffoonery I mentioned earlier. And they shot it on film instead of digital.
“There is a lot of the humor across the category, sophomoric, male, buffoon, being the butt of joke,” Tilford said. “Our idea was to get to that intimate camaraderie with friends. To do a higher-level of fun of to bring back cool and masculine to the category.
“The level of craftsmanship that Todd has brought, has been outstanding,” Fassnacht said.
They also said that KFC has been enjoying its best sales numbers in years and that their current ad campaign, a 1970s-costumed duo who ask for “two chicken pot pies” has been a phenomenon.
“This product is selling like crazy,” Fassnacht said, noting that the client has been measuring success, in part, by the huge number of people who roll through the drive-through quoting the commercial.
They also praised the work they’ve recently launched for Taco Bell featuring the new tag line, “Live Mas”, a departure from “Think Outside The Bun.”
“It’s been extremely well received by consumers,” Fassnacht said, noting that it’s helped launch the restaurant’s new product with the Doritos shell.
“That’s what young people want,” Fassnacht said. “They want to live mas.”
In one spot, they featured the true story on a Taco Bell customer that drove 900 miles for one of these new creations.
Work for Dow Chemical has also been well reviewed. We featured the spot “Quiet Train” a little over a month ago. Solutionism – the new optimism, they say. The spot is slated to air as part of the London Olympics later this year (Dow is, after all, a sponsor).
They also garnered a Clio nomination for “Shelter Pet,” a PSA for the Humane Society where an adopted cat tries to deal with the kid playing the sand (litter) box outside.
“We wanted to celebrate these animals,” Tilford said. “They’re not victims but a real enrichment to the home.”
Then there’s the work for the National Hockey League. Their goal is to draw in the casual fan.
“The whole strategy is to make the casual fan more of an adamant fan,” Tilford said. “Hockey has certain barriers. Certain ages didn’t grow up playing with their dad. We’re trying to socialize it. This is something great and we’re trying to give them those entry points.”
“It’s simple, smart,” Fassnacht said of the NHL spot “Outside.”
“We probably have the best film reel we’ve had in a long time,” he continued.
Plus they’ve brought on several additional talents.
Michel Rothschild – SVP, group creative director of multicultural started April 1. According to the agency, his versatile background, passion for advertising and technology, and outstanding portfolio make him the perfect person to lead the multicultural creative group with Yolanda Cassity and Ken Muench. He previously worked at MTV, writing and directing promos, grand spots, show launches and exclusive videos. He was also an integral member of the team responsible for the strategic direction of Tr3s, MTV’s bi-cultural entertainment destination that celebrates Latino culture, music and lifestyle. Prior to MTV, he worked for various agencies on brands such as Tecate, Sol, Dos XX, Quaker Oats, McDonald’s and Verizon Wireless.
Elke Dobrowolski - SVP, Creative Director on the Kmart business started at the end of March. They agency says she brings to her work exceptional sophistication and refinement of style, along with the perspective of a global career spanning eighteen years. From her European background she developed a sensibility emphasizing graphic communication that transcends language and borders. Her combination of freewheeling conceptual skills with disciplined execution has won her creative positions in some of the world's best agencies: Jung von Matt Hamburg. DDB London. Wieden & Kennedy Portland. BBDO Los Angeles. Kirshenbaum & Bond New York. McCann Los Angeles. Elke's work as Art and Creative Director has shaped great world brands including: Nike, ESPN, Adidas, Coke, Land Rover, Porsche, Starbucks, Pioneer, Credit Swiss, Target, Northrop Grumman, Virgin Airlines, British Airways, Microsoft and Wrangler jeans. Elke earned her Masters in visual communications and animation film from the “Kunstakademie Stuttgart” in Germany. She has been honored internationally with awards that include a Silver and a Gold Lion in Cannes. Elke is fluent in three languages; English, German and French.
Bruce Fougere - SVP, Director of Innovation, Development and Technology joined the agency in December of 2011. They says his goal is to solve complex problems in ways that are faster, cheaper and more useful to companies and consumers. Before moving to Chicago, he worked in Richmond Va. where he led the development of Walmart’s in-store network, changed how GPS is used to cover off-road racing, developed the bid that brought the World Cycling Championships to America and tackled all the problems no one else wanted to face. He fuses his 19-years of advertising experience with a technological education through a unique problem solving approach that yields not only unexpected results but also practical paths to execution. Over the course of his career he has worked on everything from the top brands of the Fortune 500 to startups.
“I think we have an amazing partnership,” Tilford said of his relationship with Fassnacht. “And we’re surrounded by an amazing people. We’re united. It’s been exciting. We all know what we’re up against, but every day is exciting. That’s what we’re all about is change. Everybody needs change.”