Ad of the Day: The ‘Guardian’

BBH's stunning, hard-boiled retelling of the Three Little Pigs heralds the newspaper's new coverage for a new age

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Newspapers, we know, are under siege. Ravaged, in more ways than one, by the Internet and a digital age they failed to comprehend and adjust to, they're in a death struggle to remain editorially relevant and financially solvent. Out of touch, out of money … a joke, or at least a punch line—the future is grim.

So, it's a bit shocking, then, that a newspaper—that symbol of supreme irrelevance—has delivered one of the most bracingly, brilliantly relevant ads of 2012 so far. On its own, it won't save the newspaper business. But the Guardian's new campaign, from BBH, squarely acknowledges that old newspaper journalism is dead, and posits that the paper will lead the way in harnessing every aspect of new media—and the communities that sustain and evolve it—to build an entirely modern news-gathering service, one that not only keeps up with its audience but once again guides them through the world they seek to understand.

The ad's conceit is wonderful—imagining how the modern news media would cover the story of the Three Little Pigs boiling the Big Bad Wolf. Playing out like a docudrama, it begins with SWAT police storming the pigs' house and taking them into custody. As news of the incident spreads, the familiar fevered 24/7 information cycle takes hold, as journalists and citizens investigate and analyze the swirl of facts, conjecture and opinion about the case. The multimedia wash of information is expertly presented and visually stunning—from tweets and YouTube videos to a particularly wonderful segment with the Guardian website presenting a computerized "Huff and Puff" simulation to determine whether the wolf could have blown two of the pigs' houses down in the first place, as he's accused of doing.

Amid this whorl of mostly digital data, the pigs themselves—actually, people in giant pig masks—ground the piece with an imposing yet magical physicality. As reliable old fairy-tale characters thrust into the hectic glare of the 21st century, they're a metaphor for newspapers themselves—hounded by the masses, their ill-made houses falling down around them, caught in an existential crisis and fighting back to avoid getting slaughtered.

"The newspaper is moving beyond a newspaper," editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger says in his piece explaining the Guardian's commitment to "open journalism." The idea is to entirely rethink how news is gathered in the modern age—to give, as the ad's tagline says, "The whole picture." Some will say it's a self-indulgent gesture—a glossy piece of propaganda that's more style than substance. And of course, the proof will be in the pudding. But spirit counts for something, and the Guardian here, at the very least, is declaring that it won't go down without a fight.


Client: The Guardian

Marketing Consultant: David Pemsel

Head of Sales and Marketing: Richard Furness

Marketing Manager: Anna Hayman

Media Buying Agency: PHD

Media Planner: Toby Nettle

Creative Agency: BBH

TV Credits

BBH Creative Director: David Kolbusz

BBH Creative Team: Matt Fitch, Mark Lewis

BBH Producer: Davud Karbassioun

BBH Production Assistant: Genevieve Sheppard

BBH Head of Strategy: Jason Gonsalves

BBH Team Director: Ngaio Pardon

BBH Team Manager: Alex Monger

BBH Team Assistant: Katie Burkes

Print Credits

BBH Creative Team (Print): Carl Broadhurst, Peter Reid

BBH Head of Art: Mark Reddy

BBH Print Producer: Sally Green

BBH Creative Director: David Kolbusz

BBH Head of Strategy: Jason Gonsalves

BBH Team Director: Ngaio Pardon

BBH Team Manager: Alex Monger

BBH Team Assistant: Katie Burkes

Production Credits

Production Company: Rattling Stick

Director: Ringan Ledwidge

Producer: Chris Harrison

Director of Photography: Franz Lustig

Editing House: Work Post

Editor: Richard Orrick

Postproduction (Graphics, CGI): The Mill, London

Sound Design: Will Cohen, Sam Brock

Music: Phil Kay (Woodwork Music)

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.