Love this new campaign for Snickers, from AMV.BBDO in London.

Using Adwords and an alogorithm, it shows 'You're not you when you're hungry' ads to people who type mis-spelled search terms into Google. View the case study here.

And it reminds me that we have a slight obsession with mistakes in adland.

I think 'fail harder' is actually a motto of Wieden & Kennedy. They certainly had the phrase up in their reception, as a rather beautiful artwork made entirely from push-pins.

 
People in adland love to trot out proverbs like: "If you never make any mistakes, you're not trying hard enough." Or they talk about the need for "rapid iteration", meaning that it's actually helpful to make mistakes because you learn stuff that you can put to good use later.

However, in my experience I've found this kind of talk to be just that - talk.

The reality is that if an agency makes an ad campaign that is a failure, they normally get fired.

If an individual within an agency makes a mistake, they normally get fired. 

The people behind last week's Hyundai 'garage suicide' ad will quite possibly get fired.

And everyone in the pubs and in the ad blog comments will say that they're totally in favour of people pushing the boundaries, but just not in this particular case - in this case the creators made a serious error of judgement, and the ad should never have been made. But when other cases come around, guess what, they too will be exceptions to the rule that it's okay to fail. I've never seen anyone in advertising point approvingly to a failure.

Well, I'm calling bullshit on this whole "it's okay to fail" thing. Clearly it isn't.

The Hyundai suicide ad should never have been made, because it's not acceptable to use that subject matter to sell a product. By way of contrast, 'Dumb Ways To Die' featured multiple people killing themselves with unbelievable gruesomeness, albeit accidentally, but it felt fully justified because the subject was transport safety, and the treatment was cartoony. 

The Hyundai ad has suffered worldwide criticism. Dumb Ways To Die has earned worldwide praise.

The reality is that there is very little margin for error in this business. That is why most clients and agencies make work that is safe.

And yet making work that pushes the boundaries - successfully - remains the only game in town.

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