‘We’d advise clients to advertise’: London Advertising is promoting itself out of lockdown

With the coronavirus outbreak snatching a significant loss from London Advertising’s revenue, rather than cry into one’s Corona, it decided to switch things around and follow its own advice. With the help of Dame Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson, the ad agency is on its way to reaching 30 million people, with the hope its plea gets picked up by chief execs, marketing directors or managing directors.

“If we had a client who had this problem we‘d advise them to advertise,” says London Advertising’s chief exec Michael Moszynski, as he discusses his agency's decision to take the plunge and advertise its way out of lockdown. “From our knowledge, companies that advertise during a downturn gain market share against their competitors who don't. So we saw it as an opportunity. When have you ever seen an advertising agency advertising itself?“

Billed as the ‘smallest global ad agency’, London Advertising only has 10 employees working from London. But it works in more countries than WPP has offices.

However, when coronavirus struck, a number of London Advertising's clients, particularly international travel brands, pulled all of their budgets. “We were significantly more adversely affected than probably most of our peers,” Moszynski admits. “Like everyone else, we’ve been working from home, setting up Zoom calls, but thinking about new business is very challenging when clients can’t meet you.”

A graduate of Saatchi & Saatchi in the mid-eighties, Moszynski said he decided to take a leaf out of its book, which is – there is a benefit to being well-known. “There’s a good expression, which is ‘never waste a good crisis,’“ he says. “People are watching more TV at the moment and it’s cheaper because campaigns are being canceled. So we thought we could get a bigger campaign going than we could have done when the economy was at full tilt.”

Rather than produce a string of ads that showreel previous ad campaigns, the ad agency set about designing a straightforward campaign that met three criteria: is it simple, does it stand out, and can you remember who it‘s for?

Moszynski explains the rationale: “Attributed brand recall has gone from like 35% in the 1960s to 8% now. On average, only eight out of 100 people remember, which means 92% of the money spent on media advertising is wasted.

“But there is a solution to it which is creativity – because creativity exists to solve problems. There‘s no point in having a clever strategy or execution if people don‘t notice it. You‘ve got to cut through, so people see and absorb your message.“

It‘s certainly simple – and it definitely stands out. Against a luminous green background, one reads: ‘Are you a CEO, an MD or a Marketing Director? Good. This advert is aimed at you. This is an advert for London Advertising.‘

Another says: ‘It doesn‘t cost a fortune to make a memorable ad campaign. Just a memorable idea. This is an advert for London Advertising.‘

Alongside a set of digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads, the campaign includes 10 TV ads voiced by Dame Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson.

“Originally my business partner Alan Jarvie did the voiceovers, and they were fine because he knew what he wanted to do, but on a Zoom call we thought wouldn‘t it be great to have a recognisable, distinctive voice,“ he calls. “It was a million to one shot, but both Helen and Liam agreed.

While the production budget was small, London Advertising went all-in on its media, taking advantage of current reduced TV costs. Planning to reach 30 million people, the TV ads will run on 9,000 spots on Sky News and DOOH sites across the UK via Ocean Outdoor through the whole of July.

How will the agency know their ads have hit the mark?

“Because our work is run internationally, we don't have a very high profile in the UK,“ says Moszynski. We want to have a higher profile among potential clients, the advertising community and media contacts, because if the people who know you respect you, it‘s easier to recruit and to win new business.“

“We want a bit of fame, so the measure of success will be, come September, will more people know who we are?“

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