"Constructive criticism" is the instruction from Campaign. It should be the planner's motto but most of us will admit to occasional bouts of both lazy praise and wilful cynicism. Let's see whether I can stay on brief.
It's easy to be constructive about the new Kit Kat campaign, now that our fine four-fingered friend is agitating more vigorously for breaks per se: have a break, not a breakdown is the new sentiment. (Note to Kit Kat copycats: only brand leaders should attempt this sort of stuff.) It's one of those neat little shifts of strategy that chucks out the bathwater but preserves the baby. The "salmon" commercial stakes out the turf effectively and likeably enough but it feels like there's plenty of room left for creative manoeuvre. Time for a confident dab on the accelerator.
At Mini, meanwhile, it may be time for a confident dab on the brakes.
(Not a sentence you could have written 20 years ago.) The Mini Adventure campaign is as absurd and joyful as the car itself and quite unlike any of its competitors. The pick of the crop is no more complicated than this: "Mini attempts to jump over the next advert. Success. The end." With the car heroically centre stage and echoes of The Italian Job to boot. It's an idea that even extends effortlessly into sponsorship bumpers, so caution is urged only because it's all good enough already without the borrowed interest of Traktor's trademark japes. An opportunity, not a problem, as planners say a little too frequently.
By contrast, Clerical Medical could do with some ugly blokes, nudity and ironic warning signs. The brand's new TV work features a content policyholder smugly reaching for his alarm clock's snooze option and his female alter ego hiring a cab to cross a busy road. This because: "If the future's sorted, you can afford to live a little." Sadly, it seems this client has finally escaped the clutches of the "animate your brand name" school (think Scottish widows, clerics and medics) only to lurch headlong towards the generic quicksand. The ads are pleasant enough and modishly tongue-in-cheek, but this is a plain-vanilla strategy that needs choc-chip executions to cut through. My constructive criticism? Live a little.
Harvey Nichols has a campaign that is very much its own. The only strategic surprise is that it hasn't been done before, so snug is the fit between brand and insight.
It's the stuff we all aspire to: a single-minded and brave campaign founded on a truth. These latest executions do a decent job of smuggling the latest menswear and lipstick product news in under brand campaign cover, with varying degrees of reward.
On to PlayStation or, more specifically, two commercials for The Getaway, which defy simple description. They are good-looking and edgy, without ever threatening to do an allegedly extraordinary game justice. It's the enduring curse of "double life" that we all stare at this brand and even its product communication with impossibly high expectations.
Finally, the NSPCC renews its ever-morphing "full stop" campaign with a more inclusive and empathetic stance. In its print articulation at least, the creative drama of "real children don't bounce back" has been traded for the strategic drama of the everyday strains of parenthood, an initiative that loops more of us in and reframes the hotline as helpline. Planner-friendly stuff, for sure, but for this client and cause that's no bad thing; as a parent, I'm suddenly involved in this campaign in a way I wasn't previously.
So there we have it. Planner attempts constructively critical Private View. Performs patchily. The end.
Project: 2003 cinema
Client: Emma Lowndes, marketing manager
Brief: Continue and develop the successful Mini adventure campaign into
Writer: Andy Brittain
Art director: Yu Kung
Production companies: Traktor and Partizan
Project: "Full stop" campaign
Client: John Grounds, director of communications
Brief: Position the NSPCC as somewhere to turn to for parents before
they cross the line
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Gavin Kellett
Art director: Nik Studzinski
Typographer: Roger Kennedy
Photographer: Jack Webb
Exposure: National press and magazines
Project: Brand campaign
Client: Julia Bowe, marketing director
Brief: Harvey Nichols is heaven for fashion addicts
Agency: BMP DDB
Writers: Dan Hubert and Amber Casey
Art directors: Dan Hubert and Amber Casey
Typographer: Pete Mould
Photographers: Piers North and Kieran Masters
Exposure: National press and cross-track posters
Project: 2003 brand campaign
Client: Sue Tunstall, head of marketing operations
Brief: Communicate the peace of mind of being with Clerical Medical
Agency: Partners BDDH
Writer: Murray Blacket
Art director: Steve Back
Director: Daniel Barber
Production company: Rose Hackney Barber
Exposure: National TV
Client: Kevin McSherry, senior product manager
Brief: Show what happens when you take the safety net out of the gaming
Writers: Chris Bovill and John Allison
Art directors: Chris Bovill and John Allison
Directors: Tom and Charlie Guard
Production company: Rogue Films
Exposure: European TV
Project: You are not a salmon
Clients: Liam Newton, head of brand marketing; Jon Lambert, brand
Brief: Kit Kat inspires the UK to take more breaks
Agency: J. Walter Thompson
Writer: Jonathan John
Art director: Nick Wootton
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Production company: Academy
Exposure: National TV