campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 23 November 2007 12:00AM
My, but you've got to be so careful what you say about other people's babies. I'm reminded of the sweet old lady who stops to admire a gurgling infant being wheeled along the high street by its mother. "Ahh," the old dear coos, peering in under the pram hood. "What a lovely ... "At which point she realises she's face-to-face with just about the ugliest child she's ever clapped eyes on. "Err, what a lovely ... pram," she says hurriedly, stepping back to admire the Silver Cross.
Well, I'm happy to report there are no absolute prams this week, no real Silver Crosses. But, disappointingly, I can award only one Gold Tick, and that goes to the hilarious Orange (5) "gold spot". This latest one features Macaulay Culkin manfully attempting to shake off his Home Alone image in a heavy prison movie, when filming is brought to an absurd halt by the suits from Orange. Their efforts to shoehorn a broadband package into the plot are a joy to behold. It's wonderfully acted and directed, and check the editing-frame-perfect.
The latest fundraising idea from Oxfam Unwrapped (2) is commendable enough: instead of everybody buying each other rubbish Christmas presents, why don't we buy the Third World the sort of presents that they really want: portable loos, condoms, crop fertilisers and so on. Hats off to the various celebs for mucking in, but I'm a bit perturbed by the slightly jokey tone of voice of the spot: it starts off as a parody of a typical charity ad, and can't quite wipe the smile off its face from then on ("Fertiliser ... the gift of dung"). Yes, it's fun and all that, but I do hope the credibility of the whole enterprise isn't undermined as a result.
Alight here for the series of escalator panels for Maestro (3). These show us the various evolutionary stages of ready cash through the ages, culminating in the Maestro card today. The art direction's nice enough, but I have a slight problem with the claim "The New Cash". As far as I can see, this is just the same old debit card we've all been using for years. I was escalated, but not elevated.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas," Perry Como croons in this seasonal spot for Argos (1). Actually, it's beginning to look a lot like Nike, as we see shoppers stampeding en masse in search of something for Aunt Maisie. But then a huge Argos truck noses into view, offering somewhat alarmingly to "deliver the high street straight to your door". Well, OK, just don't all trample on the flower beds, please.
In a way, the Royal Mail (4) "Mr Complete" online piece sums up a lot of what I find faintly tiresome about today's digital advertising. It's another example of 2MLBH-W technology (Too Much Like Bloody Hard Work), where you have to click on this, mouse over that and wait for stuff to load, just to be told by a rather patronising little paper man that you can make your digital campaign "complete" thanks to direct mail. "Twenty-first century technology is dragging advertising back into the 50s." Discuss.
Finally, T-Mobile (6) brings us an online game that's obviously meant to be a companion piece to its current "my faves" commercial (you know, the one where a cluster of mates roll around the place in a giant ball, trying to avoid being mown down by an Argos lorry). Now, I'll own up to the fact that I am to gaming what Douglas Bader was to tap dancing, but given that the average age of mobile users is now about nine, this struck me as being bang on target.
So there we have it: this week's six babies, all conceived with the best possible intentions, I'm sure. But, really, there's only one for which I would willingly claim paternity.
DIRECTOR - Hugh Hudson, director
Maestro (3). Small moving image panels on the Tube (and on TV in buses) catching your eye as you climb or descend. Basically, a captive audience, perhaps half asleep or wanting to get home to sleep. This calls for arresting moving visuals or graphics, and these animated images must be simple to be effective. This "history of money" was too simplistic and not witty enough. These moving image panels will be everywhere soon, and much larger, so get more original.
Argos (1). Weak, ineffectual and mundane. No idea at all. Not well executed and thus of no interest for the viewer to make the call for home delivery to avoid the crush. I would rather get out and about in the crowd - it feels more fun. This ad could have been made in the late 50s.
Oxfam Unwrapped (2). Why blind us to the message by having stars "act" out emotion? Helen Mirren pretending sadness, Helena Bonham Carter giggling, Will Young inventing. A mixed message, and with these famous faces (who did it out of guilt, no doubt), they should usually be able to persuade. They didn't.
Nothing beats the strength of real-life images of real emotion, pain, sadness and fear, rather than "play acting" emotion. Phoney and a mixed confusing message. Unconvincing when you need to have your conscience prodded.
T-Mobile (6). Interactive advertising at its most puerile. It's meant to entice you on to the internet to find a game that holds you, and thus you change your phone company to T-Mobile. Or share it with others.
Well, the game was so infantile that nothing holds you, and you get off the site as fast as possible. Just not impressive, perhaps a lack of budget. Not clever enough to hold the sophistication of the teenage market that supposedly is the target, unless T-Mobile is after the eight-year-old customer.
Orange (5). Orange cinema ads are always an attention-getter during that annoying ten minutes of ads while you wait for what you came for - the main feature.
The ads to date always raise a laugh and are very smart. They parody and ridicule the movie-making process, and the studio represented by the terrific casting of the main man and his sidekick.
This is a worthy successor. It makes you want to turn off the phone, yet as soon as the feature finishes, you are rushing to find who rang.
Well written, witty, strong production values. They hold you to the very end, even though by now we all know what they're for. Isn't that the object? To hold the viewer to the very end? Like two or three ads I've seen recently: Sony, Gorilla and, just this week, Guinness "tipping point" ... really good.
Royal Mail (4). This was a beautifully executed demonstration and piece of communication. Clear, concise and, most importantly, succinct. Beautiful graphics, and the interactive was very clever and very effective. I wanted more.
It goes to show that with a good idea plus design taste, simple execution and delivering a clear message, you will win out and hit the target. Bullseye.
It's a tragedy that there are not more people like this making film or print and poster advertising. This is my choice of the week.
Project: Argos Christmas campaign
Brief: For a more Christmassy Christmas, don't shop for it, Argos it
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writer/art director: Micky Tudor
Director: Chris Dada
Production company: Academy
Exposure: National TV
2. OXFAM UNWRAPPED
Project: Oxfam Unwrapped Christmas campaign
Client: Viv Carden, marketing and communications officer, Oxfam
Brief: This Christmas, give a decent present from Oxfam Unwrapped
Agency: Leo Burnett London
Writers/art directors: Jonathan Burley, Jim Bolton
Director: Jon Greenhalgh
Production company: Vital at Weilands
Exposure: TV, outdoor, online, press inserts
Project: Maestro autumn campaign
Client: Rita Broe, head of marketing UK, MasterCard UK
Brief: Reposition the Maestro debit brand as the better way to pay for
small value items
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writers: John Cross, Brian Cooper, Mark Rowbotham
Art directors: Nicholas Randall, Jason Stewart, Nicola Roberts
Exposure: Escalator panels
4. ROYAL MAIL
Project: Meet Mr Complete
Client: Antony Miller, head of media development, Royal Mail
Brief: Help Royal Mail demonstrate mail's role in the digital age and
position it as the natural partner to new media
Agency: Proximity London
Writer: Marcus Iles
Art director: Duncan Gray
Exposure: More than 5,000 business people via DM, online
Project: Orange "gold spot"
Client: Rachel Macbeth, head of advertising and design, Orange
Brief: Remind people to switch off their mobile phones in cinemas
Writer/art director: Mother
Director: Stacy Wall
Production company: Epoch
Exposure: National cinema
Client: Michelle Manners, online content manager, T-Mobile
Brief: Bring the MyFaves proposition online as part of an integrated
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive
Writer: Tristan Fitzgerald
Art director: Tom Eslinger
Designer: Rob Northam
Exposure: www.tmobile.co.uk/myfaves and online virals
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk