People still remember the award-winning Andersen Windows commercial 25 years later. Only two knew the real story, though—until now.
It was the early nineties and our account with Andersen Windows had experienced tremendous growth during the mid-eighties. Part of this success could be attributed to their expansion to television with their first national advertising campaign.
The first commercial was set to music by someone with a background of working with Coca-Cola. Not only had the campaign been successful in increasing interest, it also was an emotional hit with Andersen’s employees.
As their business grew, our agency budgets increased until they were one of our largest accounts. During this season, I was the primary client contact and responsible for leading the account within our agency.
But new commercials that followed the original had not been as successful, at least on the same emotional level. This was significant; these commercials were a critical part of our strategy to develop a favorable impression of the brand that would fuel interest and demand.
We had developed comprehensive magazine advertising and brochures to guide potential customers through the decision-making process, but it was the television advertising that set the tone for the campaign. As the business grew, we wanted to maintain awareness and emphasize the importance of quality residential windows to justify the price of a high-quality brand like Andersen.
The Andersen marketing manager not only wanted to capture and exceed the impact of the original commercial but also to develop a dramatic campaign that could be tied to every part of the decision-making process.
Agency “Jump Ball”
The Andersen marketing manager was successful in getting our management on board with his new goal. When management buys in (from my point of view), you get more help with your project than you ever wanted. And, that’s where the rest of the story comes in.
For years, I had worked with two wonderful and gifted men—our group’s creative director and the account’s art director, who happened to also be good friends with each other. We three had done a lot of heavy lifting together on projects. The art director was the most talented artist I had ever worked with and popular with our client. The creative director was a master wordsmith.
Unfortunately, in the view of our management, these two didn’t have the “chops” to do television. They didn’t typically work on the packaged goods accounts that got the big television budgets. Since the agency’s chief creative officer didn’t think they had the experience, he opened the campaign up to a free-for-all, inviting every creative group into the “competition.”
Whatever creative group’s commercial was selected, these two talented friends of mine (the art and creative director) would do all the additional advertising and communications that was needed “downstream,” tying it into the winning commercial.
Multiple creative groups presented storyboard after storyboard, but none were making the cut. My team couldn’t even get a decent hearing for our ideas, which fell short as well.
Inspiration from Above
My group’s art director and I were very close friends as well and both committed Christians. Early one morning, he was “dumping” his frustrations on me. We were running out of time and the client was getting anxious, not to mention our management.
“Let’s put our trust in the Lord,” I said. “Let’s pray his will be done and we will willingly accept it. Let’s ask that we would be able to create a campaign that would give honor to him and the work we do.” Together, we prayed.
It reminds me of Paul’s letter to the Philippians and how he encouraged them to turn their thoughts to God:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).
That’s exactly what we sought to do.
Later, my group’s art director and creative director got together to work on the television commercial. As they met, the creative director had an insight.
He said, “You know, light is the first element of creation.” And out of that comment, a new television spot would be born, using that very phrase.
ANDERSEN Experience Light copy from McCann Minneapolis on Vimeo.
All this led to a new campaign that raised the industry bar. We named the campaign, “The Experience of Andersen Light.” Spectacular photography of beautiful rooms with light streaming everywhere became their signature. Eventually, the television commercial won national advertising awards. After more than two decades, I can still mention the commercial and people remember it. Only two souls knew the real story though—until now.
Someone once asked me an odd question: “How can you be a Christian and work in advertising?”
My response: “Would you rather no Christians work in advertising?”
I hope this story makes my point.
God is intimately involved in our work. He cares about the details. He’s doing his work through the work of our hands—even in the “secular” sales and advertising space.
No matter what you do for work, stop and pray through your projects, both the big ones and the small ones. Pray that he will be glorified as you serve him in all you do.
Stevan Becker’s background is in marketing and communications. Most of his career was spent working for a large advertising agency, running his own consultancy, and eventually working in sales and marketing for a transportation company. He has held various leadership positions in Christians in Commerce, a ministry dedicated to supporting Christians in bringing their faith, integrity, and excellence to life in their workplaces. He recently produced a four-part video series “Working for our Father” and is now developing a series of podcasts telling stories of “Coworkers in Christ.” He resides outside Minneapolis/St. Paul.
5 thoughts on “God Works in Advertising, Too”
Great story! The commercial brings goosebumps to my whole body. The key message is to trust the Lord…easy to say and sometimes very difficult to do.
“I see the light” what a great illustration to make time for daily prayer.
Thank you for sharing. I can’t tell you how many times I have prayed, even up to the last minute, for inspiration, and then God ALWAYS pulls through. I have woken up many times the MORNING of the deadline with 3-4 ideas in my head that I scramble to write down, and then they turn into winning campaigns. You could argue it’s hard to be in this industry where “sex sells” and people who CREATE THINGS FOR A LIVING think THEY are the creator, rather than a loving God. But I know differently, and I know God is the only reason for my agency’s success. I put my trust in Him for business development and great ideas, and he has not let me down for over 8 years.
Amazing isn’t it. We create something out of something. He created everything out of nothing. And to be able to participate with him is a blessing. Bet you have stories to tell. Would love to hear them.
As a former advertising agency owner and creative writer, I can appreciate your story even more. Bringing God into the equation made exquisite sense. Wish I had called on Him more during my years in the ad biz. Thanks Steve. See you at National in October.