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Flashback Friday

Friday, 18 April 2014

We recently suffered a biro shortage in the office and it inspired us to pen (pardon the pun) this week’s Flashback Friday about our 2005 campaign for BIC pens. Fortunately for us, the biro shortage was short lived and the extent of its damage was having to use a fineliner for a few days. This time, we were lucky. As we discovered in the BIC Fail Safe campaign, the consequences can be much more extreme.

You mightn’t think there’s much to say about disposable plastic pens, until you consider what happens when your pen stops working at a crucial moment:

You breeze through school, then uni.

You bring the wrong pen into your final exam.

Pen fails.

You are left with the horrifying career options of chicken inseminator or human guinea pig.

SMART’s research uncovered the emotional hook that would become the basis of the campaign – the dread of exam failure and its potential consequences. And at university, nothing is a better motivator than fear.

SMART’s campaign used black humour to its fullest extent, exploring the worst-possible-case scenarios for students whose pens fail them during their final exams.

Jobs as chicken inseminators, human guinea pigs and crash test dummies were vividly brought to life and communicated to students at the key moment when their careers were at top of mind – while studying for their exams. What could be worse than spending 90 days in a cube eating food pellets, cleaning vats of radioactive waste or forging a career knocking up chooks?

SMART’s channel planning strategy was to target students while in study mode and in transit. Radio spots throughout typical study times were complemented by street team activity on university campuses around Australia, and transport interior displays were utilised on school and university routes. 

The campaign received considerable recognition for its strategic and creative results at the New York Festival, APG Creative Planning Awards, MADC and AWARD, culminating in being awarded Campaign of the Year at Siren Awards. It was a campaign that truly lived up to its tagline – Fail Safe.

30 Second Radio Spots


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Have you experienced a pen fail? Tell us on our Queensland or Melbourne Facebook pages.