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The Distracted Boyfriend Brief



School of Communication Arts students put their own spin on the relatable meme

The Distracted Boyfriend Brief

One of SCA’s faculty, Alexandra Taylor, is known to glide around the School studio screaming at the top of her geordie voice, “SHOW ME A PAGE I’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.”

Dave Dye, who spent last year teaching at the School whilst setting up his new agency, rebooted the Economist ads when he was at AMV BBDO after realising that they had started to all look the same.

When things look the same, we stop looking.

If people stop looking at the ads, we have no chance of persuading them to dance to our tune.

That’s why Alex and Dave are such great art directors, and why the School of Communication Arts is so lucky to have them beating the drum of originality.

One of the most replicated images in social media is known as The Distracted Boyfriend. The original photo was taken in Spain in 2015 and went viral in 2017. You know the image, and seen it rehashed several thousand times. In case you need reminding, here it is in its most basic form.

In preparation for a series of masterclasses that Alexandra will be giving her students next term, SCA decided to challenge the cohort to create an entirely original Distracted Boyfriend image - to make a representation of the idea in a layout that has never been done before. 

SCA’s favourite response to this brief was from Florrie. Not only did she demonstrate truly original thinking, re-casting the characters as fruit, she took hundreds of shots with dozens of characters until she was happy with the image below. SCA love it when creative people take the effort to make things, and adore creative people who iterate.

There were plenty of other responses from the students that got SCA up on its feet. As we see them together, it is striking how different they look to each other, whilst communicating the same story. 

Alexandra and Dave are quite right to be driven towards creating something new. When adverts look like adverts, our instinct is to look away. That’s why millions of people have installed ad-blockers or skip the commercials on their Sky boxes.

It’s not good enough to stick a logo in the bottom right hand corner, a headline (nice and large), and a photo that could have come from an image library. We must break new ground, finding new ways to express our ideas, giving them the very best chance of being noticed.

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The School of Communication Arts, Tue, 05 Jan 2021 16:38:46 GMT