Why a big budget doesn't equal good storytelling

By Paul Nagy | 18 June 2012

You know when you get that incredibly beautiful woman alone in a room and discover she’s all legs and curves and eyelashes and absolutely zero personality? Me neither, but I’d imagine it would leave you feeling the same way I did after seeing the latest Perrier ad, ‘The Drop’, from Ogilvy Paris.

It is beautiful – no doubt about it. Great locations. Nicely styled. There’s been some serious effort to make it feel global and epic.

So why does it leave me feeling so ironically cold?

It’s because all the money in the world doesn’t hide the fact there’s no real storytelling here. You know what’s coming way too early. You don’t care about any of the characters. And instead of a delightful twist at the end that makes your brain smile, there’s an overplayed bellringer that makes you think, ‘really…?’.

This kind of ad reminds me yet again that one of Australia’s biggest theoretical drawbacks – the lack of huge international-style budgets – remains one of our greatest strengths. We can’t hide our execution behind piles of cash, but rather have to rely on ideas and storytelling to deliver high engagement.

You could argue our New Zealand bros are even further down the pecking order in terms of dollars and cents, and therefore even stronger in their ability to make cash go further. I would anyway.

Now I’m not for a moment suggesting big budgets are bad – far from it. The more money you have to spend, the better your comms should be. More polished. Better talent. Greater scale. All the things we love to engage with as consumers.

But we should recognise it has the potential to make us lazy – to offer a big whizz bang, rather than something that knocks at the door to your heart. We can never be carried away by the bells and whistles a big budget can provide, and relentlessly ask ourselves, does this make the work better? Does it lift the idea? Does it strengthen the storytelling?

All the money in the world won’t help you otherwise.

Paul Nagy
Executive creative director
Clemenger BBDO Sydney

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