Creative Director's Cut: The Northman subway poster balls-up

Creative Director's Cut: The Northman subway poster balls-up

There’s nothing like a good screw-up to get the attention of the masses.

Like the Apple co-founder who sold his stake back in 1976 for a meagre $800. Or Decca Records rejecting some emerging beat combo from Liverpool. Not to mention Manchester United’s recruitment policies since around 2012. Not great moves, in fairness.

But what about a good ol’ creative cock-up? 

Whether that’s an intentional error or something that leaves a shroud of doubt that somebody being paid good money shouldn’t be trusted.

You can never really guarantee that any piece of creative will get earned attention. But making an utter balls up of something is a good trick. 

A recent survey quoted by the Harvard Business Review, involving 2,000 British adults, revealed that the respondents spend 4,866 hours a year staring at screens (whether phones, laptops, TVs, gaming devices or e-readers).

That’s about 34 years staring at screens.

While it doesn’t sound generally like a positive thing for one’s addled brain, it does mean that people are consuming a helluva lot of stuff. It’s Eyeball Utopia out there.

And let’s face it: that battle for mental availability is everything when it comes to landing a creative hit with the masses for your brand.

It’s also why breaking formulas, turning things upside down, or doing something a little less traditional are all favourite techniques of the Special Ops crew at Lucky Generals.

Recently, some subway posters for the epic Viking film 'The Northman' caught our eye as they caused a commotion on Twitter. Eagle-eyed commuters spotted that somebody had ‘forgotten’ (*raises eyebrow*) a rather key element on the rollout of this expensive media buy—the name of the film.

Cue coverage across the board and a mass of Twitter reaction, and online coverage.

As social commentator @JM3k eloquently put it: ‘lol they forgot to print the title on the subway ads for The Northman.’ (45k likes, 695 quote tweets and 1,973 retweets, and more).

So although I’m by no means recommending we remove pretty critical information from our work in a bid to get attention, I’m a big fan of adding a dash of mischief, a cunning judo move or fanning the flames as part of a strategic play to turn your work into a bigger opportunity.

Job done, nice work fellas. I’m off to watch The Northman.


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