Private View: Darren Bailes and John O'Hagan
Campaign Work, Friday, 10 June 2011 10:00AM
VCCP's Darren Bailes and RSA director John O'Hagan take a look at new offerings from East Coast, Anchor, New Look, Guinness, ING Direct and Wall's.
Joint creative director,
Right, let's crack on.
ING Direct. You know the lion head in its logo? Well, now it has a body made of wood and it's been brought to life in the new work. He doesn't do much apart from stand gracefully on a rocky outcrop in the final shot of a Brothers Grimm-style fable. But these are beautifully crafted films, with sloths made from wool and bears with itchy backs. The voiceover shouldn't work, but does and feels fresh. I'd like to see more. Maybe even a TV series. Well done.
This summer is going to be great, apparently. A hundred days of the bloody thing. Well, that's according to Mother's new New Look work. A hundred outfits on a hundred models are zoomed in and out of, on a big beach set. It's like Where's Wally?, only without a Wally. Great track and great film-making. Nightmare for the wardrobe girl.
East Coast now - not for the riffraff hanging out by the toilets and irritating the automatic door sensors. Nope. These spots are for first-class customers, don't you know. Vic Reeves and Rory Bremner both travel on East Coast, and can't get enough of the full English breakfast and free wi-fi. You see Reeves now and again on telly, but Bremner I haven't seen for years. And this is where he's been. Going back and forth, back and forth, downloading at will and stuffing himself with extra fried tomato. Well, now we know. Not bad ads. But not great.
Guinness iAd. Last time I did this column, I wrote about Guinness work. Ilovedarrenbailes.com didn't get much site traffic for weeks. I fear the same will happen again. So this is an app for Guinness. It's called "iAd". Why? I don't know. It tells me nothing about the app. And it's a pain in the arse to type. The app itself is targeted at cave-dwellers. It tells you where you can get a drink, where you can go to hear music and where you can go to hear comedy. Impressed? Me neither. But the iAd doesn't stop there ... there's even a bloody a game: Pub Peanut Penalty Kick. EA Games must be quaking in its boots. And as if that's not enough ... Love pub trivia? This app is for you. Yup, there are pub facts, and there's no way you'll look like an arse recounting pub facts learnt on your iAd app. No way. What happened to this brand?
Wall's, on the other hand, is brilliant. I'll explain what happens, but I'm pretty sure you all saw it that morning it got send round. A man is served his dinner - sausages. He wants to say thanks but he's a bloke and finds that stuff hard. So he places a ring box on the table and opens the lid. A dog in the box starts the backing track on his keyboards, then does the thanking. It's a joy. The voice of the dog is perfect. It made us all jealous. Why the hell didn't we put a dog in a ring box? Duh.
Finally, some more cows, doing some more stuff that cows shouldn't really be doing. There has been a lot of it in the past few years - we've done it ourselves, and it was lovely, but I think it has to stop. These cows are having a party to celebrate the 125th birthday of Anchor. The bunting's going up, the DJ is setting up the decks. Don't get me wrong. There are some priceless images in here - four cows dressed as the Village People, cows painting their hooves/toenails red. I'll agree to like this spot, if we all agree to leave the cows alone. Deal. I love it.
Cows having a party. It's a humorous premise, and I do think some clever ideas went into the making of this Anchor spot (the photo of the bull on the mirror is a nice touch). Whether all of the gags ended up being funny or not, though ... I'm mixed on that score. It may just be a case of there being too many gags and some confusing cues - musical lyrics that don't really connect with the action, a birthday cake that looks too much like a wedding cake and the choice of having much of the party taking place during the day (reinforced by overly purposeful sun flares). Who sings karaoke (or "coweoke") during the day? OK, maybe I did once, but I think I lost a bet. Decent spot, just seems to maybe be trying too hard.
Most of the long-distance trains I've been on have had hot-dogs and bad coffee on the menu, some guy drinking from a paper bag across the aisle, and toilets that smell from a half-car away. So if I could take a train like the one photographed in these East Coast spots, I would. For this reason, I think they achieved what they set out to do. It's all just about capturing a feeling and an atmosphere. Very human performances. Subtle editing that keeps them from going over the cliff of sentimentality. Great use of natural lighting - love the lens flares coming in through the windows. Just pointing the camera outside the train most of the time, instead of inside, was a good call. Who wouldn't want this when they take a train ride? A beautiful sunset with picturesque landscapes sliding by the window and just some time to think.
Born in Ireland, I do love Guinness, taught by my grandmother from an early age to drink it every evening for "digestive" purposes. And when it comes to commercials, there are few brands with as much legendary work. But this Guinness iAd promotion is just flat-out creepy, and not in a good way. I imagine it was trying to play on the whole "dark" thing, but wasn't the point of making the ad to show us how much more fun we can have going out at night if we use this app? Instead, all we are shown are unnecessarily "arty" angles of a weird guy who couldn't appear more anti-social, playing with his iPhone all by himself in the dark and talking to us in an odd monotone voice. Along with the awkward cutaways of a shaky hand trying to hold the iPhone really, really still for the camera, it becomes a very long two minutes. From what I've seen of the iAd app itself, it seems easy enough to use - this promotion for it just misses. Over the years, Guinness advertising has set the bar much higher.
ING Direct. Who would've thought puppet animation could work in commercials about banking? But it does. Gets the message across in an appealingly low-tech way (love the bear scratching his back). Nice use of colour. These stand out.
The song in the New Look spot is catchy and whimsical enough to get your attention, and the idea of pulling the whole thing off in one shot with lighting changes is interesting (if not done many times before). The problem is that neither seems to contribute positively to the spot. Why have a guy singing about "clouds" in a feel-good spot about summer? And why give so much screen time to zooms and pans that make it very difficult to actually register the clothes? Were there something creative going on with the blocking, I would be a lot more intrigued - but there's not. Just seems like a half-baked approach applied to a blank slate of a concept.
The Wall's spot ... love it. Just love it, love it. Everything about it - the tension at the beginning that sucks you in, the mini paw swatting the mini keyboard, the guy's trembling lip, the candle-lighting, the camera angle that crosses the line, the music, the casting, the Wall's wrapper not being overly lit in the opening shot. And the dog! I want one of these little guys. A very original idea, so simple and brilliantly executed. Wish there were more spots like this out there.
This article was first published on Campaign Work
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