Bad Reviews

There’s less of a focus on highlighting new tech for tech’s sake, and a greater concentration of efforts in creating more meaningful, memorable experiences.

- Kworq Team

Can you briefly describe your project and the concept behind it?

The fragrance brand Etat Libre d'Orange needed to break into the U.S. market. They thrive off their unique approach to perfume in general, so they wanted their ads to reflect that. They begged us: anything but another sexy perfume ad (Google image search "perfume ad" and you'll see we're not kidding). We sourced authentic bad reviews of all Etat perfumes from different online platforms, discovering in the process that these perfume reviewers all have a career in copywriting. Then we matched the reviews to the fragrances and selected evocative French paintings for a deliberate twist. Are these reviews of paintings or scents? The ambiguity was decadent. The self-deprecation was irresistible.

Talk about your initial prototypes. How did those ideas change throughout design and execution?

Because the Bad Reviews idea had already been tested in a previous campaign, there wasn’t much internal selling to be done. When we all first looked at the new creative, which combined the bad reviews with the French paintings, it was one of those moments where everyone knew immediately how well this would work. There was definitely an audible “Oh yeah” from everyone involved. After that, it was just about sourcing and creating all the variations that would go into the campaign.

What breakthrough or “a-ha” moment did you experience when concepting or executing this project?

The lightbulb actually went off a couple of years ago, when we used authentic bad reviews and low-star ratings in a different campaign for the same brand. It was not fully fleshed out and didn’t include classical paintings, but engagement was curiously much higher than the other ads. That’s when we really started to think about how this unintuitive, self-deprecation by the brand actually lowered the defenses of our target audience, enticing them to engage. When given the opportunity to revisit the idea with this campaign, we built on it with French paintings and took it to a whole new level. And amazingly, most conversions occurred on the prospecting ads alone!

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

Creatively, this is a decidedly lo-fi approach. We wanted it to be easy to create more ads if/when we needed as the campaign grew. Really, the biggest technical hurdle was figuring out how to make the landing page unique for each ad that was clicked on, making for a consistent consumer experience.

What web technologies, tools, or resources did you use to develop this?

Sublime Text is our go-to text editor. The unique landing pages were developed on Shopify’s Liquid framework, and we used some good ole vanilla JavaScript to make what was ultimately the same landing page unique for each corresponding ad’s creative.

How did you reach a good balance of your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

Luckily, the brand was as cheeky and explorative as it comes. They were fully on board with our approach, especially because of what we experienced with the earlier version of the Bad Reviews campaign. A funny tidbit: the brand, for whatever reason, was unaware that we were running this initial Bad Reviews creative a couple years back, and by the time they had cottoned on to it, we already had the numbers to show its success. This low-tech approach was intentional, allowing the creative to speak for itself.

How did the final product defy your expectations?

The comments. The comments from our audience were nothing short of astounding to us. Remarks like, “This is seriously the best perfume advertisement I’ve ever seen…” GIFs that say, “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY” pretty much sum it up. We looked on in awe at how people were commenting between each other and it really inspired us to then use their comments to evolve the campaign’s next iteration.

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

With web technologies so accessible and democratized with all the resources available out there, I think we’re seeing many of the lines blurring between front-end development and design. That in itself is exciting, because there is less hindrance in a designer’s ability to express their ideas and get them executed. There’s less of a focus on highlighting new tech for tech’s sake, and a greater concentration of efforts in creating more meaningful, memorable experiences.

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