Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5
Subscribe

How a Throwaway Joke Became an Award-Winning Ad Campaign

In our 'Creative Conversations in Advertising' series, Creative Director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners Tristan Graham and Entrepreneur magazine Editor in Chief Jason Feifer discuss the birth of a very funny (and impactful) commercial.

By

Tristan Graham's work has garnered five Emmy nominations and at least 17 Cannes Lions awards (he truly can't remember!) So to say he is good at his job is more than an understatement. He credits a lot of his success to the first step of his creative process: when attacking a new campaign, the first thing he does is pinpoint exactly what problem the ad is trying to solve.

In the case of his award-winning "Guilt Trip" campaign, the problem was quite simple: an Australian train company wanted to sell more tickets for people going from the city to the countryside. "So I was sitting in the meeting with V/Line Trains feeling guilty about the fact that I don't go back to the country to visit my parents' house, and I threw out this idea that we should sell a gift card that parents can send to their kids to make them feel guilty. And one of the V/Line executives said, as a joke, 'Yeah, it's like a guilt trip.'" While she was just kidding around, Graham immediately realized they had something special. "I stopped her and said, 'You just named it, that's the idea.' The name of an ad, like a headline in print, is so important. If the name is good, it becomes a good hashtag, it becomes an easy hook for people to explain to their mate in a bar. So I took the name, thanked her for doing half my job, and we rolled on from there."

Watch the above video to learn how Graham and his team turned this funny concept into award-winning reality and his secret weapon for coming up with some of the best lines in the campaign. (Spoiler: It was his mom who made him feel guilty in the first place!)

Latest

This Physician Is on a Mission to Empower Home Health Aides. Here's How She's Doing It.

Dr. Madeline Sterling shares how she's working to improve the lives of home health aides and their patients. Plus, her advice on other researchers trying to pioneer a new space in their field.

Celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani on Finding Food Fame

Interview with the CEO Fabio Viviani about how culture should be the number one goal for any business, finding — and using — celebrity, and learning to stick to a specific system.

How to Fix Brain Fog and Boost Your Focus

The No.1 productivity killer is brain fog. Here are Ben Angel's tips for beating brain fog and boosting focus.

How One Small Button Can Transform the Creator Economy from a Buzz Word to an Actual Economic Model

The co-founder and CEO of PIP, a creator economy monetization solution, shares how his company is helping content creators get paid more easily.

This Company Wants to Pay You for Your Steps. Here's How it Works.

The co-founder and CEO of Sweatcoin explains how the company’s move-to-earn vision is helping people be healthier while also getting brands in front of 100 million users.

Javier Correa of Sombrero Mexican Food on Restaurant Expansion Strategy

Interview with Sombrero Mexican Food Owner Javier Correa Jr. on celebrity endorsements, finding an effective pace, and the balance of scaling a business.

Do You Inspire the Best in People? Apply for the Tony Hsieh Award

The Tony Hsieh Award seeks out progressive, value-driven leaders and innovators

3 Ways to Achieve 'Superhuman Focus' in Just Two Weeks

Focus is a valuable asset for any entrepreneur. Here's how to upgrade your energy, focus, and drive.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself If You're Thinking About Becoming a Health Coach

The chief revenue officer at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares how the program works and the myriad of ways you can use a health coaching certification.

Josh Altman and Matt Proman Are Teaming Up to Disrupt the Real Estate Industry

Serial entrepreneur Matt Proman and real estate mogul and 'Million Dollar Listing LA' star Josh Altman have joined forces to launch BidMyListing.com.

Robert "Don Pooh" Cummins of Brooklyn Chop House on Opening Restaurant Doors

Interview with the Brooklyn Chop House owner and franchising expert about working in the music industry, opening restaurants, and creating avenues for black entrepreneurs.

Feeling Unmotivated? 3 Biohacks to Supercharge Your Focus and Drive

Here's Ben Angel on the top three motivation myths and how to use biohacking to become more focused.

This Physician Wants to Change the Way You Carry Your Baby

Dr. Lena Shahbandar is a physician and entrepreneur who designed a new baby carrier to help parents and caregivers reduce back and joint pain.

Jennifer Allen of Levy Restaurants on a Commitment to Company Culture

Interview with Levy Restaurants VP of Restaurants Operations Jennifer Allen about running successful businesses, being a "restaurant girl", and her company's strong values.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.