Private View: Robert Campbell and Paul Lawson
Campaign Work, Thursday, 19 July 2012 08:00AM
With work from BP, Lynx, the BBC, BT, Suzuki and Adidas.
It's a game of two halves this week.
There are ads. And then there are ads for the "O" word. You know, the "O" word. That thing that you're not allowed to mention unless you've paid billions of pounds to some mysterious organisation somewhere in Switzerland.
I'll start with the ads.
Suzuki. Welcome. I don't think I've seen you make a TV commercial before. At least not one that I remember. So this new ad is a good start. It's called the "never-ending test drive" of life. You can guess what it's about. Good.
This ad for BT is another in the "flatmates" sitcom series. The cheeky male flatmates try out another BT product: BT Infinity fibre-optic broadband.
The cute Spanish girls who live upstairs drop by to log on. But, to the disappointment of the boys, the girls use the broadband to Skype their even cuter Spanish boyfriends back home.
We close on the disappointed boys using the amazing bandwidth of BT Infinity fibre-optic broadband to access porn-hub. (I made that final shot up.)
My feeling is that "sitcom" advertising of this kind has sort of run its course for BT. It was great in the pre-internet age, when dinosaurs like Lipman and Hoskins roamed our TV screens. But surely there is a more modern way to market leading-edge tech products than this?
This advertising for Lynx is utterly fantastic. I laughed out loud when I watched it. So did my wife.
We watched it again. We laughed again.
Go online and watch this series of five ads now. They are stunningly written and beautifully directed.
My favourite is the "sporty girl" ad. What a script! "Nothing says I love you like breaking the bridge of another man's nose."
Thank you, Sir John, Nigel and Bartle Bogle Hegarty. You've inspired me, entertained me and made me green with envy for 30 years. I love you, and I love what you do. Even if you are owned by the French.
Now the "O" word.
I thought the Queen's Jubilee was brilliant. An outpouring of joy, community spirit and creativity.
Every shop window seemed to have a crazy tribute to HM in it. Including sex shops. Royal Jubilee vajazzlers! I believe Kate and William bought one. For William, of course, not Kate.
When Paul McCartney (and I can't stand the man) played I Want To Hold Your Hand, I wept. I was so proud to be part of something so big, and wonderful, and generous in spirit.
But, for the "O" word, I'm getting out of town.
The dead hand of corporate control is too much for me. I'm afraid I might speak the "O" word without LOCOG's permission.
Or that my five-year-old might somehow unwittingly break the "O" word's thousands of pages of corporate guidelines when playing with his crayons.
Then what? A knock on the door in the middle of the night. And LOCOG takes away my poor wee boy. Torture him in a room full of unsold Wenlock and Mandeville mascots: "Ha. Zat's what you get for expressing your creativity anywhere near the 'O' word, you leettle 'B' word."
These three ads for the Olympics are OK. But I knew what they were going to be like before I even looked at them.
The Adidas ad and the BP ad are virtually interchangeable.
The BBC ad stands out for its use of animation. Actually, it's pretty good. Well done for getting animation past LOCOG.
"F" the "O" word. I'm out of here.
I've just seen an article about a talking urinal cake. It dispenses advice to potential drink-drivers, having analysed the content of what has just been splashed on to it. It struck me that this could be the basis of a clever literary device that I could use as a review framework: ad A was a bit wide of the mark, ad B overwhelmed me with a gushing torrent of malodorous sentimentality etc. However, it also occurred to me that I would be figuratively depicting myself as a chap who squats down in a public convenience while other chaps urinate into my face. That's not something I want to invoke again following a serious case of crossed wires at a nightclub, called The Hoist, many years ago.
First out of the blocks is an epic for Adidas looking to leverage the bejesus out of the Olympic Games. It's a modern-day carpe diem for the assortment of pram-faces and chavs who make up Team GB. Given the subject matter, I suspect the client's ideal solution would be a ludicrously overblown piece of advertising that feels exactly the same as every other sport brand's Olympics offering. Well, they got it.
Tucked in the slipstream is BP's London 2012 campaign. Is it possible to do something breathtakingly original for a big sporting event that every single brand sponsors? It's a real tough one for creatives. The hot white heat of corporate attention means a plethora of stakeholders to satisfy. This attempt seeks to be the nation's voice - we are one team and all that. However, at least it's about all of us, not just the athletes. And the production felt nice and big and goosebumpy, which is exactly what you need from Britain's favourite contributor to major environmental and safety incidents.
Oh, I get it. Campaign has stitched me up by filling my adman's "red box" with mostly Olympics shizzle. But, fortunately, out tumbles a gem for the BBC. This is the trail that will be used across its Olympics coverage. More importantly, it shows how to be distinctive using nothing but a treatment idea when there's not much scope for an original content idea. The animation is beautiful, ethereal and truly Olympian. And, because the BBC can genuinely claim to be instrumental in shaping how we will experience the world's greatest sporting spectacle, it has permission to go all portentous on us.
"Once you try it, you have to have it." A bold assertion for a car that looks and drives like a motorised roller-skate. Apparently, Suzuki's new campaign signals the repositioning of the UK business. We see a punter force a hapless car salesman to become part of the family during a never-ending test drive. Unfortunately, the basic idea's scope for ridiculously comic, and well-observed, moments and characterisation is suffocated by stuffing in too many vignettes, unadventurous casting and a bland music track.
BT's latest "flatmates" ad is for its Infinity fibre-optic broadband proposition. Pity the creatives who have to weave this sort of complicated product story into deeply authentic exchanges between the characters who populate BT's latest "naturalistic" advertising vehicle. Fortunately, the Olympics provide the perfect backstory to justify the introduction of some Spanish lady students to help deliver the seamless blend of product hard-sell and sub-Friendsian schlock. The whole thing is, as ever, professionally done, but still leaves me feeling a tad ashamed.
The tongue-in-cheek pastiche of what it means to be a man rolls on with Lynx's (2) new five-film campaign for its shower gels. A laconic American voiceover makes for enjoyable listening as it describes each of the girlfriend types that Homo Eroticus might, er, come across during his life. But, five films? They can't be solely distributing them via t'internet, can they? If not, that's some media budget to be found. So that's why the price of my Voodoo Body Spray has gone up.
This article was first published on Campaign Work