London art director Stephen O’Neill, the man responsible for sending a spoof anti-Trump billboard around the world in a viral campaign, has spoken to The Drum about how it all came about.
O’Neill explained that he created the ad in response to an internal competition at his agency AML, before it was splayed across the Times Square billboard in New York, the ‘Don’ from Donald and the ‘T’ from Trump embossed to spell ‘Don’t’.
“At AML, we have regular side projects around the agency positioning of simple ideas for complicated problems,” he said. “One such project is to create topical spec ads – and nobody is more topical right now than Donald Trump.”
And thanks to the colour scheme and distinct font, for a while it was mistaken as a real ad for The Economist magazine, according to Business Insider. This theory stretched further when that same week, The Economist released an anti-Trump cover story.
“It won me an internal award (a 12-year-old bottle of sherry, finished off in 12 minutes,)” O’Neill wrote on The Drum. “We blogged about it (the poster, not the sherry) and moved on to the next simple idea.
“Then things started to go a little bit viral.
“On Monday, I was amazed to see that the ad had been posted from Taiwan to Texas, and was the most-shared story on [humour site] The Poke in the UK,” he said. “A day later and it had been picked up by US advertising site Adweek and instantly became its most-read lead story.”
And at the end of the day, O’Neill said the whole thing taught him one very important lesson.
“A simple idea, powerfully expressed — even a ‘ghost’ without any media budget at all — now has the power to influence opinion around the world.”