campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 25 November 2005 12:00AM
Nothing beats the original. In fact, only The Godfather: Part II even matched up to one. So imagine being the poor creative bastards who had to come up with the new HSBC (2) campaign. Seriously, they had more chance of pulling off a win than Neil French has of getting a date.
Of course, I am biased. Not so biased, though, that I can't applaud the fact that the "everyone has a point of view" campaign has at least tried to build on "the world's local bank". But, with the exception of one TV ad, I believe the work lacks charm and clarity. The exception I mentioned features an old lady walking down the street, observing life. It is extremely well directed and cast. I feel this ad, I don't just look at it. The others, however, leave me cold and the press and outdoor even colder. I also battle to understand exactly what point HSBC itself is trying to make. The irony of the campaign thought and the concept of Private View will, I'm sure, not be lost on the architects of this campaign, but truly I believe the work is not as uplifting or as informative as the previous campaign.
Bisto (1) TV. A lovely strategic idea which cajoles everyone into ensuring they spend at least one night a week gathered round the table with their loved ones, including that old family friend, Bisto. I'm not a great lover of word play ("aah" pronounced "our" is the key to the concept), but it works here. Bisto is well put together and feels genuine - which is vital, as cheese and Bisto just don't go. As I said before, this is a big strategic idea from which I expect more and more and better and better work to come.
"Open the gate, open the gate." Wow. Whoa. I doubt very much whether Bulldog Broadband (3) (from Cable & Wireless) is taking itself too seriously, but the fact that I am not sure results in it all being a bit flat. Perhaps it is trying to get a bit of a cult going here - so ugly it's beautiful sort of thing - but it's not happening for me.
Executionally, the print, poster and mailers are very average, very unimaginative.
Radio 1 (4). Watched it once. Was intrigued, but didn't get it. Watched it twice, was still intrigued and did get it. The concept is in the execution in this work and it is pretty well done, but I do think they could have helped make the concept clearer - people moving like the bars on a graphic equaliser (do they still call it that?). "Infectious radio" feels like a good territory to be in, and, as I said, the work was intriguing. But not infectious. And if the campaign is going to develop into something special, it is going to need to make you break out in something.
The Samaritans (6) direct mail piece was simple in look and feel.
Nothing spectacular. Understated. Which feels right for the client. The message within it - case studies of three people, two of whom, thanks to Samaritans, lived to die naturally - was moving, to say the least.
Sometimes you can try too hard on this sort of business. These guys have got it just right. Wonder if they could expand the concept into other media types.
British Association for Adoption & Fostering (5) poster. This is a highly emotive and heart-wrenching subject, and I end up feeling all I've witnessed is a clever advertising idea. Make no mistake, it's a very good idea, and I get the problem. I just don't get the solution.
So, a mixed batch this week, with some ideas that have good executions but which promise even richer futures. And then, of course, the odd disappointment.
Finally, a message to all my Chelsea mates. How are you all? Haven't heard from you for at least a week.
STRATEGIST - Will Collin, partner, Naked Communications
I'm delighted to say that I had already seen many of this week's Private View selection before the Jiffy bag arrived on my desk. My guilty secret is that I'm a light commercial TV viewer and so much of our industry's output passes me by. But, surprisingly, I had already seen each of this week's TV ads live on air, so I can give you my genuine viewer's reaction to how well they survive the crucible of a commercial break chez Collin.
Appropriately enough, the Bisto (1) ad gave me a nice, warm feeling.
Family life is being damaged by the UK's long-hours culture, but we're not going to stand for it any longer. We the people demand the right to come home on time, put the dinner on and then sit down together to eat as a family. Children and adults alike, from all walks of life, look us in the eye and demand to have their family time back.
Rather than talking about what it tastes like, they've climbed right up the benefit ladder to the top rung: better family relationships. It's a big claim for a humble gravy granule to make, but the everyday ordinariness of the cast means Bisto gets away with it.
Sadly, we move from family dinners to a dog's dinner. A bulldog's dinner, to be precise. This campaign feels like it could be for a lot of brands, but unfortunately Bulldog Broadband (3) isn't one of them. There's a bit of IBM in there (black-and-white scenes of a nerd controlling the network), plus a dash of BT (crowds massing toward a technological future). I don't understand how you can take a memorable, meaning-laden name like Bulldog and create such an unbranded commercial.
Next up is one I hadn't seen: a fundraising mailer for Samaritans (6).
I was suckered by the trick opening line ("Thanks to Samaritans, Julie Greenward died of a heart attack") and couldn't help but read on. Job done. After calling Samaritans, she didn't commit suicide but instead lived a fulfilling life and died of natural causes. This mailer uses charm where so many other charities would have used shock, and I repaid it with my attention.
From one charity to another: the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (5). A clever media idea, this one: a poster that keeps moving from one day to the next, to dramatise the sorry fate of children in care who are denied the opportunity to be settled in one place. It's a novel way to dramatise the problem, but I'm left unsure what I'm meant to do about it. Write to my MP? Donate to the BAAF?
Apply to be a foster parent? A call to action would have given me a way to channel the sense of injustice which this poster evoked.
Rather like the current Magic commercial, the Radio 1 (4) ads create a visual world to represent core tracks from the station's repertoire.
Jumpy, jerky movements mimic the pulsing bars of a graphic equaliser display.
Somewhere at the back of my mind, I feel I've seen something like this before (in an old Nationwide campaign) but no matter. It's top stuff.
HSBC (2), like Bisto, aims high with a big theme. It's celebrating diversity of opinion by asking us to consider opposing points of view.
Are gorillas dangerous beasts or our genetic forebears? Is broccoli better than chocolate cake? Do you prefer a sitar to a Fender Stratocaster?
Unlike the Bisto ads, however, I don't see the role of the brand in this campaign. Bisto can get away with its big claim because a gravy-laden dinner does in some small way help us rebuild family life.
But it's too much of a stretch for HSBC to set itself up as the champion of broad-mindedness. It's not the United Nations, it's a bank. Without a reason for asking these questions, all that remains is expensively produced corporate puff.
1. BISTO Project: Aah night Client: Centura Foods Brief: n/s Agency: McCann Erickson Writer: Matt Crabtree Art director: Simon Hepton Director: Rob Sanders Production company: Amarillo Exposure: National TV 2. HSBC Project: Points of view Client: HSBC Brief: n/s Agency: JWT Writers: Damian Totman, Peter Seterdahl Art directors: Damian Totman, Peter Seterdahl Directors: Jave Nava, Axel Laubscher, Robert Lougevall, BBC stock footage Production company: Independent Exposure: n/s 3. BULLDOG BROADBAND Project: Open the gate Client: Gregory Thorpe, head of communications, Bulldog Brief: Dramatise the possibilities that fast broadband offers Agency: WCRS Writers: Yann Jones, Simon Robinson Art directors: Yann Jones, Simon Robinson Director: Medhi Norowzian Production company: Joy@RSA Exposure: National TV 4. RADIO 1 Project: Brand campaign Client: James Wood, head of marketing, Radio 1 Brief: Attract non-listeners to Radio 1 Agency: Fallon Writer: Sam Heath Art director: Frank Ginger Director: Chris Cairns Production company: Partizan Exposure: BBC TV 5. BAAF Project: National Adoption Week Client: Harvey Gallagher, director of marketing and communcations, BAAF Brief: Raise awareness of the fact that many children in care are repeatedly moved from one temporary home to another Agency: FCB London Writer: Bryn Attewell Art director: Mark Robinson Exposure: 96- and 48-sheet posters 6. SAMARITANS Project: Life goes on Client: Emma Smith, senior direct marketing officer, Samaritans Brief: Attract high-value donors Agency: Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw Writer: Ben Golik Art director: Phil Wyatt Photographer: Seamus Ryan Exposure: 45,000 high-value regular charity donors
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk