Maurice Van De Ven
Executive creative director, MEC
In today’s climate of uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, it’s not a good time to be run-of-the-mill boring. Being boring no longer equates to safe. Boring just means you’re grey. That’s often the problem with big organisations: they’re slow and risk-averse by design and they can’t move forward fast enough. They’re full of people who are focused on managing upwards and not making mistakes. People who constantly talk about creativity and innovation, but have never run a risk in their lives. I see the results of that mentality reflected back in brand communications more and more. Campaigns packed with certainty, all the way down to the bottom line. Let’s face it, no organisation can afford to be boring today, not even the big, boring ones. We need brands with an inspired singular purpose that fits into people’s lives. The strongest brands are useful and agile – equipped to build a meaningful relationship with customers. So, with that in mind, let’s look at this week’s work.
First up, The Pilion Trust’s "fuck the poor" campaign. It’s a noble cause and a brave client that raises donations by using thought-provoking tactics. It’s topical and a serious subject, so seeing people respond to the bigot with the sandwich board played on my apathy. The friction between the bigot and the emotionally charged passers-by makes a real statement about values and injustice in society. The end frame is a call to action to donate via The Pilion Trust’s JustGiving page. I think it works. Good job, Publicis London.
Second is the random joy of a dancing Easter chick. It’s light and creatively well-crafted, but I’ve seen cute and cuddly animals for a few decades – with various degrees of success – and the Asda chick doesn’t make me want to Tweet about it. Having said that, the campaign has nice participation elements – a social tool where people can create and choreograph their own personalised chick and share it. There’s also an in-store treasure hunt, created by the augmented-reality company Zappar. So, all in all, sort of OK.
Wieden & Kennedy and the Danish brand Lurpak have worked wonders to show cooking oils in a new light. It’s a wonderful piece of work by any standard, but even more so if I benchmark what’s generally done within the grocery-food category. This is cinematically shot and energetically paced – as we follow the moon-like journey of raw ingredients turning into glorious feasts. A fresh and exciting piece of work – it definitely lifts my perception of the brand and is deserving of some rare metal.
Cuprinol deployed a gnome in a helicopter to get its message across. It took me back to the old Cuprinol spot of the chubby laughing man spraying fence treatment, which was sticky. In fact, I can still hear him laugh after all these years. "Nooooooo", the gnome ad doesn’t feel quite right. I think it would have been more cheer-it-up if our gnome hadn’t missed that tree. Balls.
Finally, we’re seeing pirates spruce up their warrior ship thanks to Wilko. It’s a well-produced and humorous dramatisation of transformational decorating, but I’m doubtful if it will cause the type of uproar-roar they’re hoping for. It seems thin creative material that won’t live beyond the time you’ve viewed it.
Managing director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
We love them, but they’re just ads. Here today, gone tomorrow. Unless they’re really good – in which case, talked about tomorrow and gone the day after that. Or really bad – in which case, they never arrived at all.
I hadn’t heard of The Pilion Trust before seeing its "social experiment" and I began by wondering if perhaps this should have been the brief. Then I wondered if there had been a brief at all as, I have to confess, I found it lacking in insight about brands, charities and how and why people donate money to them. We all walk past exceptionally deserving charity collectors every day. Not because we don’t care or we don’t want to help, but because we know we need to donate carefully – to organisations we trust to make a difference (I can see a role for a trusted brand here). We normally do that within a small portfolio of causes we are particularly close to or passionate about. Or if a mate is running the marathon. This "social experiment" is a stunt that proves nothing other than consumers are too savvy to give their hard-earned cash to a random bloke in a sandwich board that says "Help the poor". It does use the word "fuck", though, which will excite some people who think it’s provocative. It isn’t. The Harrison’s Fund work last year, "I wish my son had cancer" – that’s provocative and insightful and much, much better than this.
From Asda, a little dancing chick to remind me of something I already know: "Everything at Asda is cheep, cheep" (I don’t think they meant that) – in fact, 10 per cent cheaper than everywhere else (except the places that are cheaper than Asda). Consumers are searching for value, but I wonder if they are a bit sceptical of this "we’re cheaper than they are" stuff. I am. I am also a bit dubious of the current tone du jour – the knowing voiceover. Throw in yet another talking/dancing/singing bear/cat/dog/meerkat/chick and you have all the makings of an… err… turkey?
Ah… Lurpak. What a campaign. One that has captured the hearts of consumers, the industry and the Lurpak commercial department too, I suspect. Is there anyone reading Campaign who wouldn’t have loved to have been a part of it? Once again, it’s a beautifully written, highly crafted masterpiece. It does a great job of carrying the brand’s value yet embracing the "new frontier" of Cook’s Range products with its space theme (particularly impressive given I don’t know if I need the Cook’s Range products). And it moves the campaign on just enough for me not to think they’re caught making the same ad again. I can’t wait for the next one, as long as they keep giving the idea a nudge along.
DIY products and hardware stores should have inspirational and aspirational work – look at the recent Dulux work. Instead, we get Cuprinol and Wilko. Advertising has seen some great characters that have stood the test of time – the Smash Martians, the Honey Monster, the aforementioned meerkat. I’m just not sure that The Flying Cuprinol Man is going to cut it, which is a shame as "cheer it up" is a nice thought.
The Wilko line, "Where there’s a Wilko there’s a way", is a great expression of the role of the brand in people’s lives. But I’m left underwhelmed. I understand it’s all about keeping up with the Joneses; I’m clear Wilko is a "treasure chest", hence the pirates. It’s just a bit… well… I’m not sure everyone will be talking about it tomorrow.