With an unrivalled track record of making their own staff look like twats in their advertising, Halifax have sunk to new depths with their latest commercial.
There's a whole thesaurus-worth of adjectives to describe how bad this ad is. What I'd like to spend a bit of time banging on about is how wrong this ad is.
It appears that Halifax are completely oblivious to the fact that this country has experienced a deep, painful recession and that bankers are suffering from a reputation crisis where the lack of confidence and trust in them probably means that now even Gary Glitter is more highly regarded.
Those "slice of life" NatWest ads, where real employees are talking to real people about money stuff, may not be my cup of tea but at least they feel down to earth, human and not profligate.
A bunch of clowns waving "free" fivers around is hardly likely to restore faith in that once well-regarded profession.
It would be tragic enough if it was Halifax's own money that they were pissing against the wall with this ad. But the Government's intervention and subsequent bailout of HBOS means that the good old British taxpayer has funded this garbage somewhere along the line.
Also, how much did the bloody thing cost? It seems to be on almost every other ad break and Spandau Ballet Gold can't come cheap. You'd have hoped someone, somewhere has worked out the maths and that a profitable return on investment for this activity is feasible. I'd love to know if this campaign actually works.
Somehow I doubt whether the business success of this campaign will be meriting high fives all round.
WHERE ARE TODAY'S CREATIVE STARS?
Ben and Matt have left Wiedens for BMB. Interesting. I won't speculate on the reasons why, but they had been at W&K for a while and BMB is definitely in the ascendency. Draw your own conclusions. But what I want to know is this.
1: They are described as a "star team". I think they are about the closest London has to one at the moment. Can you think of others? In my day (mid-late 90s), you couldn't move for star teams: Steve and Vic, John and Nick, Tom and Walt, Richard and Andy etc. It was first names only and they were genuinely really fucking good year in, year out, whatever the medium. Who does that describe these days? Beyond the Juan Cabral of a couple of years back, are there any stars in the current firmament?
2: Is it difficult to look up whether a team actually did an ad? These guys didn't do "grrr".
3: This always happens in January. Why? I think you get a bit of negotiation at the end of the previous year, then no-one wants to announce in December because everyone's on holiday. And budgets may be renewed when the year begins, freeing up cash for new signings.
Anyhoo, it's nice to see a bit of love and status for the maligned and marginalised creatives of the world.
MONEY CAN'T BUY REAL CREATIVITY
In World War II, my Uncle Harry was in the Desert Rats. In typical British army style, their equipment was crap. Everything was left over from the First World War. So the British soldiers did what they've always done best. They improvised. They stole the cans off the Germans and used them instead. Eventually, the British army learned to copy the German design. And, even today, these containers are still called jerrycans.
Isn't that what creativity's about? It's about improvising, using your brain. Use whatever you can, from wherever you can. It's not just about spending money.
Anyone can win when they've got the best of everything and more of it. The real buzz is winning when you haven't.
I see lots of articles about what happened to creativity in UK advertising. Well the drop in creativity seems to me to coincide with the rise of computer-generated graphics.
We don't need to think of a clever way to do anything. Now, CG can do everything. So the answer's money. And whoever's got the money can buy what looks like creativity. But it isn't really. Because, as with any technological innovation, everyone else has got it, too. And if we do the same as everyone else ... we'll just be another big money production like all the rest. And that's not very creative.
If we want to stand out, we'll need to do something no-one else is doing yet. And that's a lot more difficult, because that takes brains. As Winston Churchill said: "We have no money. We shall have to think."