Next month, Paramount Pictures will release a film based on the life of Curtis Jackson, the rapper more commonly known as 50 Cent. Its title, Get Rich Or Die Tryin, aptly sums up urban youth culture’s core values – conspicuous consumption and materialism.
It was a creed that therefore featured widely in the hundreds of entries to last month’s World’s Toughest Briefs competition, when readers were challenged to devise an advertising campaign to encourage 18- to 25-year-olds to buy a lottery ticket.
Each month, the Financial Times, in conjunction with OpenAd.net, an online marketplace for exchanging advertising ideas, invites readers to submit a solution to a challenging advertising or marketing brief published on the FT’s Creative Business pages. The competition is open to all, from enthusiastic amateurs to established advertising creatives and agencies.
The winning entry to last month’s competition, evoked the spirit of the target market with the slogan “Waiting sucks . . . get rich quicker”. The print advertisements would drive home the idea that “waiting sucks” by featuring images of bored secretaries, bus stops (where the adverts would be placed) and nightclub queues. The entry also suggested a marketing tie-in with Cribs, the popular MTV programme that showcases the houses of urban youth culture’s rich and famous idols.
The campaign was devised by David Dearlove and Paul Rizzello, an art director and copywriter team from ThirtyThree, a London-based recruitment advertising agency, who win the competition’s £1,000 cash prize.
The panel of industry experts that last week assembled to judge the submissions felt the winning entry would best overcome the key problem faced by lotteries around the world: while young people aspire to material wealth, they believe they stand a better chance of making it through other means and regard the hopeless optimism associated with playing the lottery as somewhat naff.
Trevor Beattie, managing partner of Beattie McGuinness Bungay, who achieved notoriety in the 1990s as the advertising brains behind the “Hello Boys” Wonderbra campaign and for revamping the French Connection UK retail chain as FCUK, said the winning entry’s focus on immediate gratification represented a sign of the times.
“It’s a Pop Idol generation where there isn’t the time to play lots of pubs before getting famous,” he said. “I think a lot of the [submissions] skirted around the issue that this one has nailed – it’s a big enough idea to absorb other ideas.”
Of the two runners-up, one print entry from freelance creatives Hermeti Balarin and physiotherapist Ana Brando used the slogan “Life is fairer for rich people” in a series of arresting images with taglines such as “75 per cent of top models only date men who have more than £3m” and “Sports-car owners have free access to nightclubs”.
The other runner-up entrants, Amy Hornett and Chris Coulson, recent graduates of Buckinghamshire & Chilterns University College and on placement in London, devised a television campaign offering novel ways of selecting lottery numbers – entitled “Choose your numbers wisely”.
Dianne Thompson, chief executive of the UK National Lottery operator Camelot Group and one of the judges, said: “This was a challenging brief. The problem of attracting 18- to 25-year-olds to play a lotto game is universal. I was extremely impressed by the calibre of the work submitted and think the winner showed outstanding creativity.”
The next challenge
The challenge being laid down today requires readers to target the same 18-25-year-old demographic group, but involves the promotion of a message so different from last month’s that it could almost be described as “get rich slower”. The next World’s Toughest Brief is to convince young people to get motivated about pensions.
The same materialistic and aspirational values that characterise the target market have resulted in a generation dominated by spenders rather than savers. As well as differing attitudes towards saving, younger people typically have other financial priorities – such as paying for basic services, putting down a deposit for their first home and repaying student debt. This is compounded by a general lack of confidence when it comes to making personal finance decisions.
Clerical Medical, the UK financial services group, earlier this year revealed that more than 70 per cent of people aged between 19 and 25 have not joined a company or personal pension scheme.
“It is rare that a week goes by when we’re not reading about the UK’s so-called ‘pensions gap’ in the news,” says Graeme Riddoch, sales director at Clerical Medical. “Therefore, it is frightening to discover that nearly half of the UK population appear to be ignoring this message, and subsequently failing to put aside some pension savings for retirement.”
As with all the briefs, the issue being addressed is a global one. Across the European Union, the working-age population is set to fall by 7 per cent over the next 25 years while the population over 65 is set to increase by more than 50 per cent.
Speaking at the Centre for American Progress in Washington earlier this year, David Blunkett, the UK secretary of state for work and pensions, said the debates in the US and Britain concerned “the same fundamental challenges: establishing the role of the state in delivering affordable and sustainable social security; finding the best way to protect employer-based pensions and to support individuals themselves in building their own retirement security”.
The challenges faced by employer-based pensions were underlined when Delphi, the US automotive group, this month decided to seek chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid rising pension costs.
However, for this month’s brief, readers are asked not simply to focus on the negative implications of the pensions crisis by submitting material underlining the threat of poverty in old age, but instead to focus on more positive messages by highlighting the role of pensions as a means to enjoyment in later life.
In addition to Dianne Thompson and Trevor Beattie, the judges are Polly Cochrane, director of marketing at Channel 4; Greg Delaney, chairman of Delaney, Lund, Knox, Warren & Partners; Ford Ennals, formerly of Universal Music and now responsible for the UK’s switch to digital television; Tim Ashton, creative director of Antidote, a creative consultancy, and Peter Lewis, head of marketing at the FT.
■ KEY ISSUE: Saving money in a spend culture is tough and pensions are not mandatory. The task is to make starting a pension an exciting idea for 18- to 25-year-olds.
■ INSIGHT: Living for the moment is what being young is all about. A good pension means you never have to give it up.
■ ROLE FOR COMMUNICATIONS: Seduce young people with the promise that a pension is the key to an enduring, youthful lifestyle.
■ KEY THOUGHT: A pension is not just about security, it is the gateway to fun in later life. Think Jack Nicholson and a lifestyle that involves doing the things that you want to do and not the things convention says an older person should do.
■ WHAT WE NEED: Ideas and concepts – for online, mobile phones, publicity stunts, television adverts, posters, press, direct mail, e-mails etc – that get young people excited about the idea of investing in a pension plan.
■ FURTHER INFORMATION: For a more detailed brief go to www.openad.net.
HOW TO ENTER AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS
To enter the competition, submit your entries via the OpenAd website www.openad.net. By submitting work on OpenAd’s website, you agree to the author agreement on that website. Do not send entries or material to the FT. The competition will commence on Monday 17th October. All entries must be received by midnight Saturday November 5, 2005.