Thursday, October 12, 2006

Genius behind iPod ad comes out of the shadows

If you still don’t know who created that iconic iPod silhouette campaign that has become one of the most successful global campaigns ever, then you haven’t been reading our blog.

Susan Alinsangan (she’s the ex-TBWA\Chiat\Day-now-freelancer creator of the iPod silhouette campaign) was featured some time ago, when Debbie blogged about her coming to our shores as one of the judges for the upcoming Creative Circle Awards.

Well, she’s here now and I had the opportunity to attend her presentation at yesterday’s Creative Seminar 2006 event. Though she’s tiny (she’s only 4 foot 11 – that’s just under 1.5 m for those of you more used to the metric system), she sure packs a punch.

Her advice to the 300-odd audience of students and creative professionals? Keep it simple, because simple ideas can go anywhere in any culture.

The campaign flowed on from an equally simple brief from the client, which just showed a pic of an iPod, an equal sign, and the word ‘music’. Two ideas were developed (“never show just one idea” was the other advice Susan gave, “because the client only has two choices: to buy or to kill the idea.”) One was the silhouette campaign, while the other was the complete opposite, showing a jumble of pictures meant to communicate the depth, complexity and variety of music. It was Steve Jobs who saw the potential in the silhouette idea and told the creative team to run with it.

Susan also kept the presentation real by showing us her notepad which charted the evolution of the campaign. While the campaign looks simple, it involved countless drawings and hours of brainstorming and deliberation over what colours to use (it was her son Owen who eventually chose the clean background colours in the campaign), what singers/music would fit with the campaign, which dancers to use, and what the designers had to do. So it was that a simple silhouette idea for what was to be a billboard blew up into a full-scale campaign involving TV, print and outdoor, entered into pop culture and became one of the most popular Halloween costumes for the year.

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