The Work: Private View

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 19 September 2008 12:00AM

CREATIVE - SIMON LEARMAN, executive creative director, McCann Erickson London.

According to some opinions, only one thing separates us from financial oblivion: confidence.

So let's see if this week's work can restore that much-needed feelgood factor.

The Digital UK (3) campaign announces its Switchover Help Scheme, which will enable the elderly or disabled to go, not unsurprisingly, digital. The first spot has a gregarious old bird trying to set up her friend with the wonderful installation guy. The second features a blind guy down the pub, explaining that his trusty guide dog doesn't have the technical expertise of a digital engineer.

Hmm. These films do get the message across, but they resort to that tried and tested "slice-of-life" model. And they don't half feel like a tired analogue approach to a digital announcement. I guess the target audience requires a gentle approach. But this reminds me of an equally dull British Gas campaign that encouraged us to have our gas boiler serviced. It's all so ordinary.

Nike (4). I'd normally pull in half the department to look at its latest spot. No chance with this one. This looks and feels pedestrian. It features a guy creating a storm of geometric shapes as he tumbles through the streets in his new geometrically patterned trainers. I know this is a local campaign funded by Foot Locker, but you can't really hope to create cut-through using poor computer graphics. Particularly when the Olympics are so fresh in our minds.

The new Surf (5) commercial is, well, fine. It tells of a woman struggling to replace the cover on her duvet (yeah, that old chestnut). In the tussle, she becomes intoxicated by the Surf lemon-scented fragrance, and finds herself following a butterfly into a mythical Mediterranean orchard. It's beautifully executed. But, for me, suffers from comparisons with too many of those folksy, ethereal commercials floating around these days. Probably works a treat with the target, but it's hardly pushing the peanut forward.

The new HSBC (1) spot is a lovely piece of storytelling. We follow a young Polish rep from a washing machine manufacturer as he travels to India to discover the secret behind their sales boost. It transpires that their product is being used to successfully blend lassis. It's a tight film, and well photographed. My only mildly cynical urge stems from the belief that, while this spot demonstrates the need to be aware of what's going on in the world, I don't really accept that banks are in a credible position to comment at the mo'.

Now, this advertising job is never easy. And trying to encourage a change in behaviour is possibly one of the hardest briefs. Particularly when it comes to knife crime. But I really don't believe this latest poster from the Metropolitan Police (2) will do more than satisfy a political desire to be seen to be doing something. Think about it: you're 16, tooled-up to the max with the family carving set; you have a head full of Grand Theft Auto, a belly full of your Gran's Diazepam and you think you're indestructible. But wait, you stumble (remember the Diazepam) across a poster reminding you of the consequences of carrying a knife. So what happens next? Fall to your knees and embrace Jesus? I don't think so. I should imagine those stupid enough to carry a knife can barely spell "consequences", let alone worry about them.

Last up is a neat web thingy for Nokia (6). It's a plug and play idea that allows you to select a phone and music style that suits you. You can also manipulate the features of a character head banging along to your chosen track, which is fun. It's all pretty neat. But hardly amazes. What's the mind-blowing, over-arching idea? Err ... um ... I suppose the client can tick the box that denotes a digital presence. Well, multi-platformism is all the rage.

I'm not sure this week's collection will do much to restore the national feelgood factor. Thing is, it's down to us all to demonstrate the value of creativity, now more than ever.

CREATIVE - SIMON WATERFALL, outgoing president, D&AD; creative director, Poke

Campaign never misses an opening or closing party, so this being my very last week as the president of D&AD I have the final honour to review this week's work. So, no punches pulled, the party is over and, in the usual way of things, it's four television ads, a London poster and one globally neutered website.

The UK is bracing itself for the digital switchover, panic grips the nation as we may awake one day in the near future and, God forbid, our goggle-box might be blank. It's the same fear idea that made a mountain out of the millennium bug. But these ads for Digital UK (3) are directly aimed at the elderly and the handicapped that may need a "nice man" to come over and play with the pipes. I really wanted an ironic ending to slap me in the face but, on both counts, I was denied. I realised that this ad is entirely useful and informative and the only bad writer near this was me.

The Nike (4) "evolve" work is, as ever, a powerhouse of post-production on unlimited pounds. Its spinning athlete triggers off spare bits of crystal shards they saved from the last Madonna and Timberlake video. It's all great, but in some way familiar. Advertising, having lost the war over special effects to film a long while ago, now has to have a better reason for being, rather than "look at my budgets". So "tuned Air 10" leaves me flatfooted. "Human race", miles better.

The insight in the Surf (5) spot - that people find another world inside their duvet covers while trying to change the sheets - doesn't go far enough for me. Every man in the world, given the choice between building the Large Hadron Collider or popping on the new duvet cover, knows that quantum physics is a stroll in the park. Women, on the other hand, have a gene passed down from Eve to be able to do this in seconds, ending in a look that a Victoria Beckham and Simon Cowell lovechild might conjure up after its first solid movement. I like the ad, but wrote more in the daydream that followed.

HSBC's (1) latest "let's look at how different we all are and laugh" ad is sailing dangerously close to the stereotype of race traits that made It Ain't Half Hot Mum, 'Allo 'Allo! and the Republican Party a dangerous thing to laugh at. This one is not empowering, it's cowering. Stop, please, and let's vote for change.

The Metropolitan Police (2) has to walk an even tighter and more dangerous blue line in trying to combat knife crime in our capital. How to show the consequences that may follow in the wake of even carrying a weapon today is so difficult, without going the whole "murder in the Mail" headline writer. I think COI is one of the most risk-taking and creative clients out there at the moment. I hope it works.

And then there was digital. (sigh). I know it's hard to do, but hard facts of life say that, even if you have to follow a huge budget TV campaign and you have to use the assets, you HAVE to make the web work. This Nokia (6) site should allow you to upload your face to the "Sony Rec-You" head-nodding avatar we did last year. Unfortunately, this functional purpose is buried behind five minutes of filler and, when you finally find the "use webcam" button, it is not supported on any computer in our studio, not one, not on Mac or PC. I even gave Chrome a go, just to be flash. In the end, I used my iPhone to take and upload a picture to play on the Nokia site. The ten minutes of torture to do this is wholly consistent with the reasons why, after a decade of Nokia loyalty, I now have yet another fucking Apple product in my life. The world does not need to be ruled by five brands. Please everyone ... be better.

It's been a pleasure serving you at D&AD.

1. HSBC
Project: Washing up
Client: HSBC Commercial Banking
Brief: Launch the new global commercial banking positioning
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Axel Chaldecott
Art director: Axel Chaldecott
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Production company: Rogue
Exposure: International TV

2. METROPOLITAN POLICE
Project: Anti-knife crime
Client: Kirsten Ross, campaign manager, Metropolitan Police Service
Brief: Communicate the severe and wide-reaching consequences of carrying
and using a knife
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Nick Bird
Art director: Lee Smith
Exposure: Print

3. DIGITAL UK
Project: Switchover Help Scheme
Clients: Beth Thoren, Matt Elliot, Digital UK; Peter White, Switchover
Help Scheme, BBC
Brief: Promote the scheme, which will offer help for the elderly and
disabled who want to convert to digital TV
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Simon Welch
Art director: Matt Welch
Director: Lucy Blackstad
Production company: Home Corp
Exposure: TV

4. NIKE
Project: Evolve
Clients: Amadine Bigaret, European brand director, Foot Locker; Paul
Santen, strategic projects marketing manager, Nike EMEA
Brief: Launch the Tuned 10 shoe
Agency: Nitro Group London
Writers: Tom Evans, Walter Campbell
Art directors: Tom Evans, Walter Campbell
Director: Walter Campbell
Production company: Serious Pictures
Exposure: Pan-European TV, online, ambient

5. SURF
Project: Visit the Med
Client: Laurent Boury, European marketing director, Unilever
Brief: Launch Surf Lemons & Bergamot
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Dave Monk, Matt Waller
Director: Guy Manwaring
Production company: Sonny
Exposure: Pan-European TV

6. NOKIA
Project: Music Almighty
Client: Nokia
Brief: n/s
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Writer/art director: David Lee
Producers: Clemens Brandt, Jessica Manchester
Production company: n/s
Exposure: Online

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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