Gerry Human and Liz Wilson
Campaign Work, Thursday, 11 July 2013 08:00AM
Chief creative officer,
Ogilvy & Mather London
There’s a summery theme to this week’s line-up of work, so I hope you don’t mind if I bang on about the weather for a moment – even though I’m not a Brit.
Ever noticed how TV forecasters talk about the weather? They have their own lingo. Instead of simply saying "it will be windy tomorrow", a weather pundit declares "bitter wind blowing from the east". And it’s not enough just to predict rain, it’s more likely to be "severe rain for the next few days". Or, if we need cheering up, it will be "pleasant temperatures for the duration of the weekend".
It is fascinating that such small inflections can affect the way an entire city looks and behaves – choices are made between sandals or shoes, raincoats or T-shirts, wine or cider, Brighton or Biarritz. Powerful things, words.
But enough shooting the breeze, let’s get down to the more important business of reporting on this week’s advertising. Watch out for stray adjectives sweeping in from the Atlantic.
First up is Let There Be Beer, an ad commissioned by the brewing industry, designed to reinvigorate beer sales in the UK. I read that beer sales in pubs are down almost 50 million pints in the first quarter of 2013. And guess who is to blame? Yep, the weather. Not even a few rogue sunny interludes could change the fact that it has been the most miserable spring in 50 years.
That’s a lot of undrunk beer and a pretty daunting task for an ad campaign. The solution is a series of vignettes showing people yearning for a beer – at a barbecue, on a date and at the office. Then, in dramatic slow-motion, the cast are suddenly rewarded with icy beer in a series of hyperbolised moments. This is set to an operatic version of Climb Every Mountain. Very pleasant.
Right, more booze, and this time an ad that is specifically for a brand – Kopparberg cider. A wolf runs through the forest, then spots some giant icy stalagmite-like objects in the distance. On closer inspection, we see that the icy menhirs are full of fruit and beginning to crack open. The camera tracks until, voilà… a bottle of Kopparberg. The bottle falls atop the fruity ice, but we never do find out what happened to the wolf. Clammy and cold.
And just in case you’re really parched, let’s have another round, please, barman. This is the latest instalment in the "dropped" online content series from Heineken. It stars an unremarkable Greek fellow named, yep, Stavros. He is taken from Athens, dropped in the Cambodian jungle with a giant duck boat and must find his way to Phnom Penh while negotiating roads and rivers. The campaign line reads: "Legends aren’t born, they’re dropped." It’s an agreeable enough idea that runs along the same lines as Survivor, but clearly on a fraction of the budget.
"Name our baby" is the latest in the alien series from Argos. The twist here is that the alien is knocked up, so the storyline weaves in lots of pregnant dad scenes before announcing that customers can get ready for their new arrival at Argos. A hashtag encourages Twitter users to suggest names for the new arrival.
To emphasise the kind of topsy-turvy weather we’ve been having, the summer campaign for The Co-operative Food has a Christmas theme to it. This balmy ad begins with what appears to be snow falling, but then we find out it’s a barbecue and it’s actually blossom falling. There is a child making sand angels and we see a couple kissing beneath a salad leaf. Nice warm front.
A mixed picture, then, but not without some sunny patches.
Chief executive, CMW
This week’s Private View is all about beer and shopping. Not to be lured into this world of frivolity and fun, let’s consider a question that is often useful when judging work: would we spend our own money on this? On that basis, there are a few tricky decisions to be made here.
Not least when it comes to the Co-operative Food ad. Here, a neat creative joke helps tell us that family time in the summer can be just as wonderful as at Christmas. But from there on in, the ad gets sucked into many of the current conventions of major food retailers’ advertising, making branding nightmarishly difficult. To be fair, this is a problem for the whole category right now, including the mighty Marks & Spencer. But, unfortunately for The Co-operative, this ad may well have us skipping happily all the way to Waitrose.
In sharp contrast, Argos has managed to brand its whole shopping experience in the line: "Argos it." In a world where we talk endlessly about building products, not just advertising, and look for products with communication baked in, good old Argos has come up trumps and found a way to brand and modernise an otherwise fiddly, dated process. It’s not fashionable to like this campaign but, frankly, it’s hard to knock it, and the lovable aliens grow on you. It all adds up to a lasting retail campaign that seems unassailable. Easiest marketing investment decision of the day.
Meanwhile, the beer market’s in long-term decline. So a group of big brewing companies has got together to turn it around. Brilliant initiative. Let There Be Beer kicks off with a beautifully made TV ad. But, as it’s made up of a range of pretty familiar lager scenarios and the big news is that beer is good after a busy/stressful/hot day, I’m not sure it is going to get them very far. Getting people to change their attitude to beer, and how often they buy it, takes much more.
So, if it were my money, I’d be taking a big chunk of it out of TV and putting it into digital, social and in-store channels to make sure something in the mix has the strength to do the heavy lifting that the TV needs help with.
On to Kopparberg and the surprisingly conventional launch spot for its fruit cider. Twenty seconds isn’t much time, so all that can really be done is to tell us the product exists. But, for a brand that prides itself on being "unestablished", it feels like there is something missing. Maybe the ad’s main purpose is to give the trade the reassurance of TV support for the launch – which makes it less of an investment choice and more of a marketing mugging.
Finally, further proof that Heineken and its agencies aren’t putting a foot wrong at the moment. You actively look forward to seeing the brand’s work, and that is exactly why its modern, content-led communication works, instead of disappearing into a digital black hole. Heineken is living its brand in everything it is doing at the moment and pushing its own boundaries, just as it challenges us to do with its ads.
This is the second instalment of "dropped" and it brilliantly uses TV as the trailer to the full digital story and experience. Stavros, the Greek yoga instructor, is dropped into Cambodia in a duck-shaped boat and has to find his way to Phnom Penh. Great story, great characters, great production values and great connected media channels. You would definitely get my money for this. Hell, you might even get it in 30 days.
This article was first published on Campaign Work
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