Campaign Work, Thursday, 01 September 2011 08:00AM
Fuck me, I've only gone and hit a pay-wall. In our fancy digi-world, even the work I'm sent to assess for Private View is now accessed via a link to Campaignlive.com, which has cheerfully informed me that I have to become a subscriber in order to "continue enjoying this article". There is a flinty-eyed disdain behind such a jolly refusal, I can sense it. The automated response, while superficially polite, sneers openly at my reluctance to pay for the good shit - my pikey freeloading. It knows I come from Portsmouth; it can smell it on me. I'll just have to find the work for myself. Online, like civilians do.
I hit a bit of a brick wall with the new Visit Wales work, though, despite my frantic Googling. Eventually, I come across a seven-hour online video that explains the idea: a perfectly pleasant young man is "surprised" by a holiday to Wales. Personally, I'd rather be "surprised" by gonorrhoea than by a holiday to Wales. But the chap seems to have a nice time of it and hangs out at a rugby match chatting to that really tiny lead singer from the Stereophonics. You know the one - handsome, voice very much like Rod Stewart, small enough to sit on the end of your pencil. He hasn't had a hit in some years. He's probably been too busy repping all these package tours to Swansea for Thomson Holidays.
Searching online for the CBBC "Crack a joke" microsite was easy enough, and the site itself is brightly daft participative fun.
I imagine that the wee ones particularly enjoy the function that enables them to pick their favourite CBBC star to tell a dumb gag.
Sadly, it doesn't stretch to Tinky Winky squeaking out the "disabled toilets ...ironically, the only toilets big enough to run around in" classic, but you can't have everything.
I don't have to search for the new Subway spot, as I have seen it in the flesh on the telly. In the ad, a skinny bloke messily "plays" his Subway sandwich like a harmonica, while he is accompanied by inbred Deep South musicians who will undoubtedly rape and eat him when the music stops. It's a little unappetising, but that's Subway for you. "Footlong." What a horrible name for a sandwich. In my house, a "footlong" is what him indoors calls a particularly robust bowel movement.
I have also seen The Sun football TV ad in real life. The new Sun football TV ad uses a TV ad technique, and talks about Sun football.
I tried to watch the new San Miguel spot on my shiny new iPad, but Apple and Flash continue to have the right arse with each other and still aren't talking, so I had to watch it on my laptop. It's a weird old bugger of an ad, with a voiceover that sounds remarkably like that Fast Show "Scorchio" character moonlighting in 70s porn.
The voice purports to be the voice of the bottle of beer, bleating on about how it has spent its life in a remarkable way, kicking around with supermodels and politicians on Roman Abramovich's yacht. It wisely glosses over the time it spent being brutally urinated into by football hooligans down a Glaswegian alleyway.
Finally, the new Match.com ad. If you ignore the forgettable "shoelace" ad (I'm sure you did), it's a follow-up to one of my favourite ads of the past 18 months, where the photogenic couple haphazardly serenaded one another about The Godfather: Part III. It suffers a little from the law of diminishing returns, but it's sweet enough. Mind you, I do take issue with the lamentable casting - ugly beardy bloke finds everlasting with perfect blonde.
The adwanker's ultimate romantic fantasy (pulls hypocrite face).
Phew! It's nearly over. Summer 2011 may have been marked by plenty of drama in media land, politics and on the streets of English cities, but adland has felt particularly becalmed. No big creative highlights (hurrah for the new Google Chrome ad), no big upheavals and no real pitches to get stuck into. But, encouragingly, this week's crop of Private View creative feels like the first stirrings of an exciting autumn season.
The Match.com music store ad was so good, it was hard to see how it could be followed. This does it with bells on and manages to be funny, touching, emotional and totally unrealistic all at once. That's what's so good about this: it's wildly unrealistic - it's properly romantic.
Also, unlike its competitors, this makes no apologies for itself. There is no self-conscious attempt to plead that computer dating is normal - it's not, it's for dreamy romantic people. And that's something to aspire to, not be embarrassed about. Anyone who has ever looked up from their Metro and wondered about that guy or girl strap-hanging on the Bakerloo line will be feeling this campaign.
San Miguel is the perfect antidote to our summer - a large dose of escapism to a sunnier place with an ice-cold beer and smouldering senoritas. This is the kind of ad that's lovely to watch but makes you angry at the same time. I've worked on plenty of beer brands and never got a shoot further away than Park Royal Studios.
The new Visit Wales work is escapism of a cosier kind. Aiming for a slice of the staycation trade, this campaign comes knocking on your door to extend a hale and hearty handshake and invite you to come round to their place. It's nice having Stacey (from Gavin & Stacey), and the real people involved all feel real. The long-form online film gives you plenty of time to luxuriate in the fun, but how it will work when it's cut to a ten-second TV spot is another thing. Ryan Giggs would be great in a Visit Wales campaign. He could also vouch for the passions that professional football provokes. He'd probably also agree that, much like Imogen Thomas, ads that try to capture that passion are a tired and well-ploughed furrow. So many footy ads just repeat the same cliches but try to outdo each other on scale and chutzpah. Let's throw three million quid into production, shoot all over the world with megastar players and then dump another few hundred grand on a massive music track and post-production.
The beautifully crafted ad for The Sun shows that you can capture the power of the game without spending the kind of money you'd need to take out a super-injunction.
I was a fan of the previous "we got a sub for that" ad for Subway - it was funny and made me hungry when I saw it. And on the basis that I love a KFC Zinger and I bought Cotton Eye Joe by Rednex, I should be bullseye audience for this hillbilly chicken stuff. But I find myself left a bit cold by the Smokin' BBQ Chicken Temptation - the bap looks a bit soggy and the duelling harmonicas don't have time to get into their stride. Still, the interactive version of the film has attracted more than 150,000 people - let's hope they worked up an appetite.
The "Crack a joke" online game for CBBC does a cracking job getting kids involved in words, visuals and sounds without them even realising it. It knows its audience and that they love to learn and tell jokes. If the budget was tight, it doesn't show. The site looks great and the flow is energetic and fun. Kids should find this irresistibly naughty. And with an inexhaustible stream of "knock-knock" and "doctor" jokes, so will a few adults.
This article was first published on Campaign Work