campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 19 October 2007 12:00AM
Here's a few thoughts. Instead of trying to outwit the very witty Mr Gerry Moira, or trying to out-charm the blunt but charming Mr Mark Wnek, or get into a pissing contest with the lovely, but very tall, Andrew Fraser, I'd like to try a different approach.
Basically, some of this week's crop are nice pieces of advertising, and some are dull and tedious. In my view, they are all (with one exception) traditional, one-dimensional communications. They don't reach out, or try to have a different conversation with consumers. They simply talk at you. And I don't think that's the way communications should work today.
So, instead of being one-dimensional and talking at you, why don't I tell you what I think, then you can go to www.timeforadifferent approach.blogspot.com and let me know what you think.
Let's start with the launch work for Digital UK (4). A 60-second TV epic with all the trimmings. Big production, nicely shot, famous soundtrack and a little animated character called "Digit Al". All very sweet, but, frankly, also very familiar and old-fashioned. Sadly, the only thing digital about this spot is the animation used to create little Al. It does nothing to capture the potential that is offered by interactive digital television, and that is a wasted opportunity.
The British Heart Foundation (6) ad also feels like some kind of communications throwback. Sixty seconds of overwrought, over-stated film hides an interesting fact: if you up your heart rate for 30 minutes a day, you cut the risk of developing heart disease in half. The idea of everyday activities helping you achieve this is interesting, but surely there must be more interesting ways to bring this to life besides a blockbuster TV spot?
Next is the Royal Marines (2). This is a very well-produced ad. Some subtle digital manipulation heightens the camouflage effect in this spot, so "Our Boys" can magically appear out of the jungle and protect us from threatening swarthy-skinned screaming terrorists. But ignoring the digital manipulation for a moment, isn't this just old-fashioned emotional manipulation? The kind of scaremongering George W Bush himself would be proud of.
Time for another epic, but this time in print. HSBC (3) attempts to break through the clutter by dominating an insert in a future issue of The Times. The title of the insert is "Tomorrow's World", yet this feels like something from the Raymond Baxter era. HSBC is unquestionably a smart advertiser, yet this random selection of ads with different sizes, formats and messages is a clumsy attempt to pummel a sophisticated consumer into submission.
Now for the one exception to all the conventional ads. An outdoor installation for Trident (5) and the Metropolitan Police, which is designed to raise awareness of the consequences of gun crime. A prison cell is placed in the street, carrying a pretty direct message: "Imagine spending years in here. Don't blow your life away. Stop the guns.org." It's a powerful piece of communication. The right media, in the right place. My only slight quibble is that it's a shame the line, and the poster support work, don't make the idea work even harder. But still, it's a bold effort to reach a difficult target audience.
And finally, two more 60-second ads, this time for BBC Radio 2 (1). They feature Russell Brand and Chris Evans, each showing their musical prowess to make us aware Radio 2 has "amazing music played by an amazing line-up". Smart and understated, the people who made this resisted the temptation to over-egg the idea, and, as a result, the ads feel fresh and engaging. These simple, elegant executions show that TV ads still have the power to touch us. But that said, I can't help thinking it's a missed opportunity when that's all they do.
Well, that's what I think. Sorry if I upset anyone, but if I did, go to www.timeforadifferentapproach.blogspot.com and let me know what you think.
CREATIVE - Andrew Fraser, executive creative director, Rapier
As I pick out the individual pieces of work - six little fragments of communication - from the Private View envelope, I can't help feeling that, these days, it's a little odd to judge pieces of work in isolation, without some background to the strategy and some idea of how the work fits into a broader campaign.
In the first case, this is not a problem. Digital UK (4) is a project that we're working on at Rapier. So I know the strategy. It's a regional rolling out of information about the digital switchover presented in easy-to-understand, bite-sized chunks.
The ad features "Digit Al", the little robotic spokesman, as he tours the country in a pink van spreading the digital word. The subject matter is quite dry, but with the help of the Harry Nilsson track Everybody's Talkin', the message comes across effortlessly and with a great deal of charm.
With the BBC Radio 2 (1) work, it's also fairly easy to get the context. I'm a big fan of the station's transformation, with the addition of the likes of Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand and Chris Evans (OK, not so much Chris Evans) to the schedule.
This TV campaign - starring Brand and Evans - communicates this news quite successfully, simply by featuring them in the ads. However, I think that the ad idea ("amazing music, played by an amazing line-up") becomes the star of the ads, and ends up obscuring rather than showcasing the talents of the two men.
Trident (5) is an anti-gun initiative on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. The aim of the ads is to make people aware of the grim reality of a spell in prison. I love the ambient idea involving the construction of an entire prison cell in a residential street. It would surely cause even the most hardened gun-toting passer-by to stop and think - well, at least just for a moment. Makes me think that this idea could be executed in a variety of different ways. How about a fan wafting out (like a Sainsbury's bakery) the smell of prison? Bet that would work.
The press ad relies on a headline to highlight the loss of your "liberty" and also "your mum's cooking". But it fails to really engage.
My guess is that the media money will be poured into the press idea, with the ambient idea left as a one-off stunt, which would be a great shame.
Next, an ad for the British Heart Foundation (6), which encourages people to do 30 minutes of light exercise a day.
We've all heard this message before. Rather like the five-a-day campaign for healthy eating, it's easy to remember, and fairly easy to achieve. The idea is simple and quite engaging, and features lots of people doing lots of things to get their heart pumping. It's all inter-cut with a rather earnest-looking man banging a drum to the rhythm of a heartbeat. And ends up taking itself a bit seriously. Next.
The recruitment ad for the Royal Marines (2) feels like a one-off ad. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing ... if it's really brilliant.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is all that great. Although there is a really good bit when a camouflaged marine magically emerges from a tree.
Finally, an HSBC (3) ad in The Times. Not a copy of today's Times, but a copy of The Times from the year 2027.
This edition has been specially commissioned, and includes lots of projected topical stories, as well as the HSBC ad, with testimonials thanking the bank for their financial advice in 2007. The idea is a good one. It's original, it's ambitious. But I do wonder if it could have been a bit more compelling and insightful about the future.
So, back into the envelope the ads go, and then on to the pile of rubbish scattered over my desk. Prizes to the ambient prison cell, to Harry Nilsson and to the management at BBC Radio 2.
1. BBC RADIO 2
Project: BBC Radio 2
Client: Rachell Fox, marketing director, BBC Radio 2
Brief: Inspire the public about the amazing line-up of DJs on Radio 2
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer/art director: Paul Silburn
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Red Bee
Exposure: BBC TV
2. ROYAL MARINES
Project: Royal Marines recruitment
Client: Iwan Williams, head of marketing, Directorate of Naval
Brief: Make physically fit young men want to join the Royal Marines
Writer: Billy Faithfull
Art director: Ross Neil
Director: Martin Krejci
Production company: Stink
Exposure: Cinema, print in gyms, universities and schools
Project: Tomorrow's world
Client: Suzanne Aspden, head of direct marketing, HSBC
Brief: Develop innovative communication to target 45- to 65-year-old
Agency: RMG Connect
Writer: Jake Dearlove
Art director: Richard Gorton-Lee
Exposure: 500,000 45- to 65-year-old HSBC customers
4. DIGITAL UK
Project: Travelling Al "when"
Client: Digital UK
Brief: Make people more aware of when their region switches
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Simon Welch
Art director: Matt Welch
Director: Ric Cantor
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: National TV
Project: Don't blow your life away
Client: Rob Cannon, campaign manager, Metropolitan Police
Brief: To dissuade 13- to 19-year-olds from becoming the gunmen of the
future, by making them think about the things they would miss if they
ended up in prison
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Malcolm Duffy
Art director: Paul Briginshaw
Exposure: Targeted youth magazines such as RWD, Young Voices, Touch,
6. BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
Project: The beat
Clients: Betty McBride, director of policy and communications; David
Barker, head of communications, British Heart Foundation
Brief: Encourage people to be more active
Writer: Owen Lee
Art director: Gary Robinson
Director: Christophe Navarre
Production company: RSA
Exposure: TV, online
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk