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  • Tom LaBaff

For the Love of the Game - Betway Spot


What made this spot so good? Betway “Arctic” - Above and Beyond, London. This is the second in a series of articles where I deconstruct examples of good contemporary advertising. As creatives, we constantly strive to make something that will be memorable. We have a lot of tools in our toolbox to do this. Depending on the campaign and the brand we can lean on any one or combination of the following pathos: entertainment, humor, drama, irony, absurdity, poignancy, emotions, relevance, educational, scary or political. This week, humor definitely leads in this 40-second spot for Betway, a global online gambling company. The problem: Disconnected audience. The solution: Emphatically engage gamblers at different points in the gaming journey. London’s Above and Beyond tapped director Gary Freedman to direct “Arctic” the first TV spot in Betway’s new campaign “For the Love Of The Game.” Betway knows that if the game’s on, everything else is a bit of a distraction. Goal, action, complication, resolution Whenever a scene or sequence isn’t working, it’s usually because one of these four things is missing. I see this all the time in films I work on. Typically, the sequence or scene is worked on for weeks (if animation) but something just isn’t working. Different staging is tried, new dialogue, new perspectives and angles are attempted, but it still plays flat. Until someone realizes one of these things four is lacking, then boom! It suddenly comes alive. In this Betway spot, the main character’s goal is to stay focused on his betting decisions. Things get complicated when his buddy gets attacked by a hungry polar bear.

All the action is taking place in the background, just out of our gambler’s eyesight. A great juxtaposition to what's going on in the foreground - him playing on his phone. The simple phone app looks so good; it competes for attention with the victim’s over the top but hilarious acting. A testament to the app's good UI design!

Now the resolution is not exactly a typical Hollywood ending (spoiler: it’s implied the buddy dies), but this is what makes it so memorable! Not every scene, sequence or spot needs a resolution, but if you've hit a wall with your writing, run through this checklist. You'll be surprised how it can help.

Press Play Test

An economical and easy way to ensure if your idea has merit is to test it. It’s easy to pitch an idea to your creative team when you can stand up and act your way through it with funny voices and props. But is the idea good enough without your babysitting? I draw out every story beat using stick figures, throw them in a timeline, record scratch voices and edit it down in Final Cut Pro. This animatic has to pass the ‘press play test!’

My stick figure sketch from an animatic for Applied Industrial Technologies 2016 spot.

I email the video to someone who has no notion of what the concept is. Usually my wife or a friend. Even better if this test audience isn’t in the creative business. I ask just one question: “Do you get it?”

If it passes this test, I know I’m on to something good. Your turn! What’s your creative process? How do you test ideas before you get into production? Let us know in the comments.