Executive creative director, 18 Feet & Rising
The Fiat ad stuck in my head not because of the cute baby, but the evil stork. Storks are known for compassion and kindness, yet we see it commit a dastardly act. The stork can’t just STEAL the baby and give it to the people across the road. That’s not how storks work. What about the original couple who have been patiently waiting for their bundle of joy? The mean stork just hands it over to Linda and Brian across the road after spotting their new Fiat! A Bentley, I could understand. But a Fiat? On the plus side, the stork’s antics are nicely animated. They Long to be Close to You is a safe choice of song that we’ve all heard a million times. Besides, when birds do suddenly appear near your car, they proceed to use the windshield as a canvas for a Jackson Pollock painting.
Volkswagen shows how to do a great car ad. Entertaining. Insightful. And focusing in on a key product point.
Vauxhall. As advertising practitioners, we are supposed to have our fingers on the pulse of the nation. Culture vultures. We know what’s happening before it’s even trending. Before it’s a meme. Before Trump’s tiny fingers have had a chance to tweet about it. So last year, when a story appeared in the Daily Mail about Pyjama Mum, she was bound to resurface. I just didn’t see it happening in the form of a Vauxhall car ad.
The thing that doesn’t match up here is that original Pyjama Mum didn’t bust out her finest silk two-piece from Marks & Spencer. No, she was dressed in some old creased pyjamas with Uggs and a parka. The opening shot of the Vauxhall ad shows us a Pyjama Mum with a fresh face of make-up. Eyebrows perfectly preened. Contouring and highlights make her look ready for a dinner date. If you have time to do your face before the school run, you absolutely have time to change out of your nightwear. Although the ad is trying to be humorous, the real story behind Pyjama Mum isn’t funny, it’s familiar. Especially to households across the UK. Pyjama Mum lives in Darlington – a town with 2.7% employment rate. When you’re juggling kids and keeping your job, it might be a case of an emergency school run in pyjamas. I’m not sure the majority of Pyjama Mums would buy into the "isn’t life brilliant" brand positioning right now.
We should be more in tune with people at home. It’s not just about what’s funny on Facebook. I admire the comedy ambition here but do we really need any more parody, epic, over-the-top voiceover ads? We sure don’t need a voicover to patronisingly speak the words: "Keep rocking those pyjamas, mommas."
Some powerful truths unearthed in this campaign for Pride in London. The idea of apologies is better than the execution, which feels familiar.
Hive. This. Ad. Is. BORING. Please, please, no more ads about moments and enjoying moments and living in the moment and hashtagging moments. Besides, shouldn’t it be the baby picking up the phone and turning the lights off? Kids these days are pretty much born with the ability to use an iPhone, right?
Founding partner, Rogue
Volkswagen. It’s not easy to make great ads these days, least of all great car ads. If you see one you like, chances are it’s either been heavily discounted to fly under the radar of the Procurement Police, or won by the production company in a blind auction conducted by Werner from Wolfsburg, whose day job is seeing whether he can squeeze 1,200 spaces into a car park meant for 1,000 cars. Here, I can imagine all the conversations with the lawyers: "Have Franken… Er, I mean, a generic monster if you must… but he can’t have bolts in his neck. And don’t even think about a square forehead either…"
Then clearing music that sounds exactly like The World’s Most Famous Film Scores without actually having the same notes in the same order and having sets and actors who are as close to the original as you can get without actually getting sued. The director, production designer and wardrobe nail all those parodies perfectly. Finally, the endline seals it. That’s what happens when everybody works together to craft something great and the client trusts them. Boom!
It’s not easy to make a difference for Britain’s Most Unwanted Car Brand, either. "I want to buy a Vauxhall!" is something that no-one has said, ever. This feels like it has spent so long bogged down in research, it has rather missed its moment. That said, it has been deftly directed, well-cast and clearly everyone has gone into it with bags of enthusiasm. Not sure if that will result in any mums legging it down to their local Vauxhall showroom in their slippers. But at least it’s trying to do something different rather than a generic creative idea meant to work in every market that doesn’t…
Like Fiat, for example. A nicely rendered stork drops off a baby in Generic Euro Suburbia, only to see a new "Baby Limousine" (please just Taser me in the nuts if I ever put those two words together to describe a car with four doors and a boot) over the road. He then flies over and deposits his load, as it were, on that doorstep instead. No doubt they’re already writing their awards acceptance speeches for Ad of the Year in Italy but, over here, it’d be lucky to get Storky of the Week. I’m going to have another look at those Vauxhalls.
If you have seven spare minutes, they’d be well spent listening to Lord Browne on The Today programme. Outed by the Mail on Sunday in 2017, it’s incredible that it’s taken us this long to get from his Auschwitz survivor mother telling him to "Never be an identifiable member of a minority" to a society where being gay is something you should never again have to hide. Pride in London’s ads are beautifully shot and cast. Pitch-perfect production design – and "Don’t leave it unsaid" is a great endline. Important work, which, if it gets just one person to change their attitude, has done its job – and it reminded me, if nothing else, why we work in this industry. It’s not all about flogging pointless things we don’t need. Oh, hang on a minute…
In Hive’s effort, we have a guy on a sofa with his baby who uses his phone to turn the TV and the lights off. The truth, of course, is that what he’d actually do is start flicking through his Instagram account or checking his bid on that carbon-fibre wheelset that he daren’t tell his missus about. "Let’s get living" is the endline. I’d say put your phones down and get out more, but don’t get me started…