Opinion: Perspective - Can great art be created to a commercial brief?

I've been trying to decide what I think of Fallon's latest iteration of the Glass and a Half Full positioning for Dairy Milk.

It's a record called Zingolo, with a music video directed by Ringan Ledwidge, created to promote Cadbury's new Fairtrade credentials. You can buy the single on iTunes and watch the video on campaignlive.co.uk; profits from the single will help fund educational programmes among the cocoa-growing communities of Ghana.

Apparently, the original brief to Fallon was to create a press ad for The Grocer. Fallon translated that brief into a record, a music video, a TV campaign to promote the single, a consumer press ad to flesh out the Fairtrade message and some user-generated-content mechanics that allow consumers to mix their own versions of the track.

It's a fine example of an agency driving an idea well beyond the confines of traditional advertising and without originally being tasked to do so. Even better, the video is a lovely fresh piece of creative work from an advertising agency: another illustration of agencies pushing back their creative horizons and demonstrating the breadth of creative talent residing within the industry.

And it's a brilliant example of a client (Phil Rumbol) taking a risk, trying something different and recognising that commercial communications have to earn consumers' attention by giving them something back in return (with the Glass and a Half Full idea, the payback is "joy" in the form of entertainment).

But is "Zingolo" the right thing for the brand?

There's no doubt that Fallon's Glass and a Half Full work over the past couple of years has driven sales of Dairy Milk; Cadbury has made that clear. But is a piece of music and a nice video the best way to raise the Fairtrade issue and encourage us to buy more chocolate bars? If your point of access is the single or the video, then the commercial message is so recessive it's quite missable. Perhaps that wouldn't matter if the single (and the video) were strong enough to stand alone. But they're not, quite.

In the end, the "Zingolo" campaign doesn't seem to know if it's trying to be a piece of commercially driven content or a piece of creative content that happens to be piggy-backed by a commercial message. The print ads simply confirm the identity crisis, with a jumble of messages that are thoroughly confusing.

I'm not questioning the ability of people in advertising agencies to create brilliant pieces of music, film, literature, art. But can these be produced in answer to a commercial brief? Mother, I think, pulled it off with "Somers Town" but primarily because of the creative presence of Shane Meadows, free of any advertiser interest. I absolutely applaud Fallon for pushing at the boundaries - again. It's produced something wonderfully credible and underlined why Fallon is one of the best creative agencies in London. And Cadbury has unquestionably proved that it is one of the boldest, most progressive and exciting advertisers around.

But I wonder if the pursuit of effectiveness has been lost somewhere in the passion to do something new and different.

There's a theme to this week's issue. Graduates. Though, more prosaically, it's about young talent.

Having spent most of the past decade concerning itself with the fact that advertising had slipped off the career agenda of the best graduates, the industry now finds itself an aspirational career choice again.

Not that there are many vacancies in the ad business. But agencies have suffered a vacuum of talent as a result of curbing recruitment in the last recession. Why are there so few good advertising CEOs right now? Because the industry never recruited them in the first place as grads. If advertising is to avert a senior talent crisis in 20 years' time, it needs to nurture young talent now.

claire.beale@haymarket.com.

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