Great creative directors all have their own way of evaluating and ensuring the high standards of their agencies’ creative output. But of the many techniques I’ve experienced and learned from, one guy’s last call was legendary. Literally. ‘Has it got Elvis?’ ‘Say what?’ ‘You heard me, has it got Elvis?’

Of course, all work obviously needs to be firstly on brief and on strategy, with the potential of getting the desired result or response, but it was this last qualifier that was always a guaranteed clincher.

On the surface it sounds cute, a clever statement you’d expect from a smart-arsed, quirky, creative type, but it really was/is a simple and effective measurement tool.

And the ‘data analytics’ and award shows always proved it.

Think about the sheer impact this lone white guy with a quirky name had when he burst onto the music scene.

Or the influence he had on so many and the great admiration he had from those that followed.

John Lennon put it like this, ‘Before Elvis there was nothing,’ and ‘Elvis was religion to me.’

What made brand Elvis great are exactly the same qualities that make great advertising communications connect and stand for something.

Elvis’s timely entry onto the scene woke middle America up. A white guy singing black guy music shocked and rocked them to the core. At the same time it was what a searching, questioning youth were crying out for.

He was charismatic, revolutionary. He was bad, he was good, he was a ‘hound dawg’. He was raw emotion and ignited hearts. The way he moved sparked excitement, even outrage. The package was good-looking and highly attractive.

He had formidable presence and appeal, yet was very accessible. He bridged an important gap. There was personal struggle.

And for a long time he and his creators were able to change, adapt and reinvent themselves to constantly connect and disrupt.

Imagine if the creative work that passes before us always lived up to all of that.

Try the Elvis test:

E is for Exciting. Does the work excite? Is it disruptive and have momentum?

L is for Love. Will people love it, like it, live it, share it?

V is for Visionary. Does it lead the way and command attention?

I is for Inspiring. Does it have a point of view and stand for something your audience wants to be part of?

S is for Salience, Sensory, Social and Shareable. Is it noticeable, important and meaningful? Does it appeal to any or all of the senses? Is it something you’ll want to share?

Thanks for sharing the ways of Elvis, Ric. R.I.P.


Elvis has definitely not left the building.