25 years on LogicLogicMagic® has never been more needed or relevant.
Everyone needs a code, set of beliefs or North Star to hold that true course when currents of confusion collide. For the past 25 years working in the creative B2C and B2B marketing industries, mine has been LogicLogicMagic®. With current short-term thinking leading to dwindling standards of creativity and poorer marketing effectiveness, expertise that moves audiences has never been more relevant than today. In this blog, I've picked out twenty of my favourite campaign examples where LogicLogicMagic® delivered business growth through unexpected creative. So what exactly is LogicLogicMagic®? Blending the literal with the lateral to create the memorable, LogicLogicMagic® is a balance, a filter, a channel neutral approach, as well as being a distinctive brand asset in its own right; taking the advice I so often give to brands myself. Many ask why it's not simply Logic & Magic? Well, there's plenty of reasons. To create a deliberate visual and verbal anomaly, making it more distinctive and memorable. To maintain what I believe is the 2/3 v 1/3 balance needed between the literal and the lateral. To reflect that in 2020, it's a trio of logical technology + psychology + magical creativity that combine to deliver brand growth. Finally if saying New York twice was good enough for Frank Sinatra, saying Logic twice is good enough for me. Admittedly I didn’t coin the LogicLogicMagic® term from day one; for a philosophy to be of any worth, it needs a body of work to legitimise and elevate it beyond the hollow rhetoric of a salesperson. That takes time. I got my start in the advertising industry back in 1995 as a naive D&AD student award-winner. I didn't know what an art director or copywriter was, let alone a planner or a strategy. But I'd always had an inherent understanding of the need to balance the creative tension between the logical and the magical. Too much of the former and it's forgettable. Too much of the later and it's nonsense. When something caught my imagination, I learned to take it apart and try and work out logically what the magic was. More often that not I concluded that it's the imagination that captures the imagination.
Learnings from behavioural economics and neuroscience arrived to allay my fears that this love of the imaginative might just have been some form of creative narcissism. All our brains it seems, however different our personalities, are pretty much hard-wired the same way. Our memories respond more to the unexpected. It’s how through thousands of years of evolution we stayed alive; by spotting the lion in the grass in time. We look for what shouldn't be there more than what should. LogicLogicMagic® has become a golden thread running through my work for over 100 brands across every vertical, through seven agencies in both B2C and B2B sectors. Below are my twenty favourite examples from the past quarter of a century. This isn't a nostalgic trip down memory lane. It's about understanding what creates marketing success across vastly different clients and sectors. The balance of logic and magic will always be key to improving the quality of marketing, moving audiences from anonymity to advocacy and driving growth for brands. 1999: Search for the Rowntree
In hindsight Search for the Rowntree was ridiculously ambitious. The LogicLogicMagic® was convincing Rowntrees to pool individual product line budgets into one brand campaign, that would support any existing product or NPD. Our hero Kit, unwittingly falls into a quest to discover the mythical Rowntree – a tree that bears five different fruits. Creating the magic world of the Rowntree became a labour of love between myself and copywriter Sarah Squibb. We only really scratched the surface of what the magic could have been. It was an idea crying out for the kind of digital immersion possible in 2020. Aaron Johnson, our child actor, went on to Hollywood fame. Sarah went on to become an acclaimed author, and I finally took three months out in 2016 to write and illustrate my own childhood adventure, Taming the Alphabet. Many people who watched this saga as children have said that it caught their imagination and wonder how it ended. Like many great ideas, it ended prematurely with the arrival of a new, less ambitious marketing director. If you want to know the real planned ending – drop me a line. See the full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/rowntrees
2000: Domestos. Protecting even in the world you can't see.
Domestos had a logical proposition – Kills all known germs, dead. Great to know that the bad things you can’t see will be wiped out; you could safely eat off any Domestos cleaned surface if you wanted to. However EMEA research revealed the idea of killing was received less warmly than in the UK. Protection was seen as a more positive route to go down. LogicLogicMagic® led to the insight that children don’t see the world we see, which brings them into contact with germ contaminated surfaces that adults sensibly choose to avoid. In a series of films, sound design opened the door into children’s imaginary worlds. What’s a dirty floor to an adult could be an ocean in a child’s world, whilst your bathroom could host cowboy gunfights or naval battles. Children’s logic is often magical, and Domestos will protect them from microscopic germs you can’t see, in imaginary world’s you can’t see too, as well as the real world you can.
You can see the full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/domestos
2001: Brands Hatch “Armchair motor racing fans”
The literal visualisation of a popular phrase created the LogicLogicMagic® here. A familiar object in unfamiliar context creates that visual anomaly the brain remembers. The floral armchairs, antimacassars flapping in the wind, as the drivers duel around the legendary Brands Hatch circuit - it still makes me laugh. Relevant irreverence as Sir John Hegarty calls it.
2002: Piz Buin ‘Positions’
Focusing on audience pain points can work well if the insight is good enough. With Piz Buin self-tan, the LogicLogicMagic® was ridiculing the traditional self-tan rituals by naming some of the positions you were often forced into whilst waiting for it to dry. To the uninitiated the regime of self-tanning felt like a bit of an old-fashioned circus, which inspired the campaign’s distinctive typography. I’m most proud of the fact that nobody guesses this campaign wasn’t penned by a woman. Sometimes you have to be on the outside to see the ridiculous for what it is, although in 2020 I suspect we would cast this commercial 50/50 female/male. Times change. You can see the full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/piz-buin
2003: Burger King ‘Shark’ LogicLogicMagic® thinking broke the usual formula at the time of shooting Burger King commercials in the restaurant, to create a little unexpected flame-grilled black humour. The commercial idea came from thinking about satisfying the biggest appetites. Shot off the coast of Fuengirola, the script had to be carefully worded to pass the BACC, ensuring what was implied in the visual story was never written down. No hapless fishing buddies were harmed in the making of this film though. Only the choice of Stuart Hall as voiceover leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth seventeen years later.
2004: Rugby Football Union 'Autumn Internationals'
The poster is still the toughest medium to crack well. How could LogicLogicMagic® create the unexpected when the convention here was always to hero the international rugby stars? Simple. Reinterpret the opposition as their country emblems to create a more distinctive, yet still relevant image. The conversation with Johnny Wilkinson's agent (his Dad) about whether kicking a pile of leaves would tarnish his clean image was hilarious. You can see the full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/rugby-football-union
2004: Stella Artois 'Lost Souls' The Reassuringly expensive campaign ran from 1982 to 2007. Twenty five golden years. By the millenium it was the equivalent of today's John Lewis ads in terms of anticipated annual commercials. The fables always focused on what might be sacrificed for the great worth and value of a Stella Artois. Our brief was to create an immersive campaign to reach digitally savvy trend setters, who rejected conventional advertising. LogicLogicMagic® led to a campaign focused on the ultimate Faustian sacrifice - your soul for a trinity of Stella Artois bottles. Print ads filled with subtle clues were the gateway to a digital treasure hunt that tested intellect and detective skills as over 30,000 people tried to solve the riddles of the Lost Souls campaign. You can see the full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/stella-artois
2004: Diet Coke 'Kim' Celebrity endorsement in advertising is as old as the hills. The LogicLogicMagic® here was to have the celebrity annoyed with the brand, not fawning over it. Kim Basinger sets our her annoyance that Diet Coke drinkers could bypass all the pre-fame jobs she undertook before making it as a Hollywood star and end up at a Hollywood premiere just by entering a competition.
2006: Army on Everest The LogicLogicMagic® here was that this was the Army's first non-military campaign, and it was live from one of the most hostile parts of the planet. All the qualities and skills inherent within a successful Army career were on display without a weapon in site, as the team took on Mother Nature in an attempt to scale the notorious West Ridge. It was shortlisted for a Titanium Lion at Cannes. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/british-army-everest
2009: O2 'Passion in your veins' "Just hero the new gaming/music/camera phones in people's hands," was the brief. LogicLogicMagic® imagined what the ultimate gaming/music/camera enthusiast hands might look like. It takes more creativity, but the effectiveness results prove that it's worth going that extra mile to create the memorable, not just more beige marketing pollution. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/o2
2012: Sported 'Sport changes lives' Prior to my career in advertising, sport was a major part of my life; winning medals for England, Scotland & Great Britain at rowing. I didn't need any persuading that 'sport changes lives'. The LogicLogicMagic® in this campaign was in focusing on the wider life benefits sport has for those who take that path, with the print ad stories rightly being recognised at D&AD. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/sported
2014: Type Two Diabetes 'The risks are written all over your body' If there was ever an issue which needs huge public awareness it's this one, given the epidemic facing the country. The LogicLogicMagic® here was to subvert the popularity of tattoos to deliver the warnings needed. This was never about fat-shaming, but about catching people and helping them reverse away from the potential life-changing consequences of Type Two Diabetes. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/type-two-diabetes
2015: NAH 'Underdog & the White Knight' Dave Trott and Gordon Smith had created the Underdog character for National Accident Helpline, creating huge awareness of the Joe Pasquale-voiced, Aardman inspired character. However brand awareness for NAH was still relatively low. LogicLogicMagic® created a series of NAH branded 'White Knight' vehicles to give Underdog the physical means to complete this journey to recovery and compensation, completing the story. With these missing pieces of the puzzle added, brand awareness and call numbers soared.
2016: Taming the Alphabet 'Storytelling' has become a fashionable phrase in B2B marketing over the past few years, yet it's been at the heart of effective communication since the year dot. I took three months out to write, illustrate and publish my own children's adventure story aimed at anyone who has had trouble with words in their life. The LogicLogicMagic® here was translating the 26 letters of the alphabet into challenges that needed overcoming. Available to buy here on Amazon: http://bit.ly/tamethealphabet
2017: The Imaginapod LogicLogicMagic® can extend into any form of creativity. The Imaginapod is a hand-built structure commissioned by my two sons to answer their six word brief: "Treehouse/Spaceship/Submarine/Pirate Ship/Fort". The magic here lies in repurposing materials and seeing what their lateral structural and superficial uses could be. I have received several requests to design structures for others but the day job has always taken priority, although it's hard to beat the satisfaction of building a physical structure.
2018: SAS 'The Unknown' This campaign was my first foray into B2B technology marketing. I'd been warned by client services not to bring any of my crazy B2C stuff to SAS - a serious global analytics brand, with a logical positioning, The Power to Know. The LogicLogicMagic® here was to create the brand adversary instead - 'The Unknown'. Then I could inject all the fun and memorability into dramatising a pain point-based character, without touching the hallowed brand. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/sas-the-unknown
2018: Lenovo 'It's the business' Lenovo saw me speak at an agency event and decided to call my bluff on this whole LogicLogicMagic® thing. The brief was to create memorable B2B testimonial films from business owners who used ThinkPads to run their organisations. The LogicLogicMagic® was to enlist Santa Claus, Lady Luck, Cupid and The Devil to talk about how ThinkPad is essential to their business activities. The literal and the lateral create the memorable. The campaign was subsequently awarded at the B2B Marketing awards. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/lenovo-thinkpad
2019: Pure Storage 'Welcome to Evergreen'
Pure Storage wanted a global B2B brand idea - to paint the town orange. LogicLogicMagic® saw the opportunity to create something more than a superficial design response. An idea with a sense of place that could host advocacy stories and be a genuine long term brand property. Welcome to Evergreen delivered a 360 digital/VR world, covered with orange evergreen forests, that businesses using Pure Storage had moved to and put down roots. A distinctive brand asset that delivers content throughout the B2B funnel. Full campaign here: https://www.alistairross.com/pure-storage
If you feel that your business could benefit from the LogicLogicMagic® approach then please get in touch at email@example.com. It's always worth a conversation even if your unsure as to how I could help out. If I can't help, I can almost certainly point you in the direction of those who can.