Is this the best the ad could be?

This is not a trick question. I really want your opinion. And there is no right or wrong answer.

Here’s the backstory.

During my career, I got to work with some of the best art directors in advertising. They saw things I didn’t. They asked the tough questions. When I started to back off a good idea, they would push forward. Art directors made everything I worked on better. This ad for Wrangler was no exception.

I loved working on the Wrangler brand. It was fashion. It was a world I was fascinated by. Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls were heroic, and they all wore and swore by the Wrangler brand.

Wrangler was coming out with a new line of cowboy cut jeans and shirts. Naturally, they wanted to show them off.

The art director and I took a road trip to Reno to watch the various rodeo events and interview the athletes. After we got back to the agency, an idea started to form.

What if we showed off the new Wrangler fashions from the point of view of say a charging bull or a bucking bronco? What if we made the photography look as documentary-style and unplanned as possible?

In our heads, the ads would show only a portion of the cowboy’s jeans as his right leg flew upside down out of frame. The cowgirl’s jeans would be only a blur of color as she raced the barrels at breakneck speed.

In short, what if we connected the dots in a whole new way–a new way to see fashion, a new way to see the Wrangler brand?

As you can see, our core idea remained the same–Wrangler jeans and shirts in the middle of the action. But in the end, the client wanted people to see their latest products, not out-of-focus, out-of-frame pieces of them.

The ads the art director and I created weren’t a failure. The client was happy, the campaign sold lots of jeans and shirts, and the print ads even made it into a CA Advertising Annual.

So, that’s the backstory. What do you think?

Did we make the ad the best it could be? Did we compromise our core idea too much? Should we have killed it and started over? Was our original vision flawed from the beginning?

Thanks for thinking about this.

Published by bassetts49

50 years in advertising, 20 years as the creative lead on Geico. A life in creative thinking.

2 thoughts on “Is this the best the ad could be?

  1. I’m going to be candid. It’s not exactly the Cartier-Bresson Decisive Moment. And that’s what the concept hinged on. It’s a brilliant idea that lost its way. But that said, I don’t think the client’s input needed to compromise the execution. If anything, it had the potential to make the idea even better. Let me explain. It sounds like the client was envisioning their product as it appears in a catalog. With that in mind, is it possible to show both perspectives? Not in one shot. That’s where it went south. As AD, I would have shot the original concept in multiple ways. Strap cameras onto the bulls and horses and shoot a full day of rodeo stunts in an experimental photographic field day. Simultaneously, hire the best action photographer the budget allowed to cover the shoot. All in hopes of nailing the decisive moments. To address the client’s needs, stage a catalog studio shoot, lighting, and all. Style the cowboys and cowgirls in Wrangler product BUT put them on crutches, head bandages, perhaps a little dirt and blood (tastefully) and drop those insets into the ad. It actually elevates the idea with a touch of humor. My 2 cents, worth exactly 2 cents.

    Let me know if you want to redo this campaign Steve! I’m ready to Art Direct, haha!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: