executive creative director,
CHI & Partners
Like you should give a rat's ass, but I've recently given up smoking. To lend suitable solemnity to the occasion of my last-ever Silk Cut, I paid homage to Four Weddings and wore a flamboyant waistcoat while reading Auden aloud as I said farewell to the fag. Stop the clocks etc. Terribly upsetting.
I only share such achingly dull information with you in order to provide a little emotional context for this Private View. There's the possibility that my opinion of the work would be coloured by the red mist of nicotine-denial. As it is, I needn't have worried - there is absolutely nothing here to hate.
But little to love, either. I used to work with a particularly loathsome account man who would cheerfully invite being beaten to death with his own hacked-off limbs by responding to creative work with the dread words "I'm whelmed". Dickishness of the turn-of-phrase aside, it really is the most damning thing one can say about creative product. I'd rather hate something, have it stick in my head for whatever reason, than it mooch past with its hands in its pockets muttering "meh".
Moneysupermarket.com, for example. I genuinely disliked the previous campaign with the baldy comedian chappy. But it did stick. The new campaign has a nice insight at its heart - the strut you get from saving some cash - and a fair bit of production thrown at it, and Patrick Stewart doing the voiceover, and enough faintly smug irony in the writing to keep it afloat. But the shine has been dulled in the latest execution - for all the tigers and explosions, there's a heavy, greasy-palmed marketing hand smearing percentage rates all over the bugger and making it rather blurry and forgettable. I don't hate it, though.
I couldn't possibly hate these Cockburn's posters either. There's something too heart-breakingly old-fashioned about them in every way to inspire anything other than faint nostalgia - the media, the execution and the erroneous belief that anybody would be persuaded to buy a brand of port by pointing out that you don't shout out the COCK bit of the name when you pop down the offy. Unless you have Tourette's, of course. In which case, you would undoubtedly ask for a delicious bottle of Cocktittybumholeburns to accompany the Stilton, and to hell with the social niceties.
I really, really like the script and idea for this new Snickers ad, in which blokey types (literally) turn into divas when hungry. It rings amusingly true (Him Indoors is currently learning mixed martial arts and has a tendency to put me in a vicious choke hold when denied Haribo) and is a wittily imaginative execution, if a little let down by the ordinary direction.
The new BBC Radio 1 spot would be excellent if only it were just that wee bit cooler. Fun, though.
Much as I shudder when long-balled ECDs redundantly invoke the names of creative directors of yore as if they were some kind of revered advert-laureates, I must declare that I am a bit of a sucker for any type of Webster-like advertising character made from foam rubber. Which the talking football heads that populate the idents for Coral undoubtedly are. Sadly - despite gamely trying - they aren't terribly funny or excellent, and therefore not Websterish in the slightest.
It is difficult for me to comment on the new Paddy Power Bingo campaign. Partly because we had a punt at it and I much preferred our work (of course - don't you always?), and partly because - despite the quite extraordinary amount of people credited with the piece - I don't understand it. I think it's for a jokey app rather than for the bingo site itself - in which case, hats off for being the only work this week that isn't just a telly ad or a poster.
Move along, ladies and gentlemen, nothing to hate here.
It's a bit of a lottery taking on this task, as you never know what kind of work you are going to be given to look at. On top of that, it's a new year and I have stopped smoking. As I usually chain smoke while I write, I'm finding this task difficult and I've taken to inhaling food instead. I've also given up drinking for the month of January and, on top of that, my doctor told me to stop masturbating. "Why?" I asked. "Because I'm trying to examine you," he replied. So if I seem a little cantankerous in my reviews, please excuse me - it's just that January is quite a struggle.
BBC Radio 1's new music campaign by Karmarama aims to promote Radio 1 as the home of new cutting-edge music. It features a big, furry, disco-dancing Honey Monster with Zane Lowe DJing in a booth set into the furry monster's chest. Hmmm. It's a tough call advertising radio on the TV, so I take my hat off to all involved for pulling it off. I think it's shot nicely and even though the post-production looks a bit lo-fi, it gives the spot a certain charm.
Moneysupermarket.com. The latest ad in Mother's "you're so Moneysupermarket" campaign shows how people can save £1,000 across their household bills and follows an ordinary man, Brian, in Las Vegas. This spot is like a sweaty drunk with too much saliva and bad breath talking two inches from your face - and I don't mean that in a sexy way. Even though it's well shot and edited, and the execution all round is of a pretty high standard, I just can't take this spot - it puts me in a fighting mood and I haven't had one of those since I was released. Perhaps it's a taste thing - I am so not Moneysupermarket.
Which brings me to a series of idents for the bookmaker Coral's sponsorship of a new football show on ESPN called Off The Ball. It is so far off the ball, it beggars belief - it looks like a project Blue Peter set! Bad puppets, bad impressions and childish humour. Maybe they had fun making it. I do hope so.
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO's new campaign for Snickers is based around the idea that when you're hungry, you're not quite yourself. It features the divas Joan Collins and Stephanie Beacham.
This commercial is sharp, charming, clever and very funny. There is nothing flashy or showy about the direction - it's just a great idea, simply executed and it works brilliantly. I love that the idea was pushed that little bit further with the appearance of Beacham at the end. It shows that great advertising is really simple to make - just come up with a great idea!
Breathe very deeply.
Cockburn's port has launched its first advertising campaign for 15 years with a series of posters. They feature the word Cockburns but with the "ck" fuzzed out, with the tagline: "Pronounce responsibly." As its last play on this theme was so long ago, how would anyone under the age of 40 know what Cockburns is? These posters could be for anything - Cockburns chocolate, Cockburns paint, Cockburns STD. Why would they not mention port? Are they ashamed of their product? Perhaps I am missing something. I love subtle, I love clever and I love Cock but, most of all, I love to know what you're advertising.
Hold the air deep in your lungs.
Crispin Porter & Bogusky has created its first campaign for Paddy Power, featuring the comedian Laura Checkley on a bad date. The spot highlights the new Home Free Hotline phone app, which calls customers with advice on how to get out of sticky situations. It took me ages to understand what this was advertising. Was it me being stupid or bad communication? I did finally get it, but I don't know that I believe it. A hotline that's going to get you out of sticky situations? I should give them a call about this sticky situation and see what they would suggest. I think their advice would be to lie or sign off very quickly. So ...
Release the air and light up.