Executive creative director,
I had lunch with a fellow ECD the other day and he asked how I was getting on, given I'd only been back in the country five minutes after more than a decade away. I told him I was really enjoying the job and mentioned that I had been asked to do Private View.
The colour drained from his face. "I hope you said no," he said. Turns out he routinely turns it down. "Don't know why they call it Private View. It's pretty public if you ask me." Fair point. "You can't win. If you're nasty about the work, everyone thinks you're a c**t.
If you're nice about the work, everyone thinks you're a c**t."
So, with these warm words of encouragement ringing in my ears, here goes.
Dulux "home improvement" demonstrates the power of paint to transform our moods. Nice higher-order thought. But when dumbed down this way, it suggests that if I were to paint my bedroom wall a lurid red, my sperm would become like heat-seeking missiles and I would immediately sire three sons with chronic ADHD. Jesus. Better get me a few litres of Misty Buff from Farrow & Ball, then.
Starbucks. Do you remember that great scene in The Simpsons? Homer is being chased. He runs into a mall. As he runs, a new Starbucks opens up behind him. And another. And another. And so it continues until he flees the mall. Brilliant. Now they are officially everywhere (including one in our own office), it's hardly surprising they're opting for a more intimate way into our lives. This stop-frame-animated spot is charming but it feels a little "meh" as a promotion. Personally, I'm perfectly happy to get a "tall flat white", not a "Toby", if it's a damn fine cup of coffee. Perhaps Starbucks should be more worried about what's in the cup than what's on it.
Ikea would have us believe that because it has an actual princess sleeping on one of its mattresses, we common folk will "sleep like a princess" too. Was that extraordinary insight worthy of two consecutive pages? And does that mean we can look forward to another ad with maybe a chinless Hapsburg "eating like a king" in one of its kitchens? Seems Mother is human after all.
PlayStation Vita. So Cannes this year is introducing a new way to make money ... sorry, a new way to reflect current changes in our industry, with the introduction of Branded Content Lions. The blurb about this ad says: "This online film and cinema ad stars the hip-hop act Rizzle Kicks. Fans were able to enter a competition to go to a gig that was featured at the climax of the film. Rizzle Kicks are hosting an MTV show this week offering a chance to win a PlayStation Vita ..." blah, blah, blah. Save it for the award entry, guys.
Nissan's Juke - rhymes with Puke - shows us exactly what it's made of by, oh so carefully, positioning a bunch of big boys' toys (beach buggy, quad bike, canoe, snowboard, cuddly toy etc) so that, when seen from a certain angle, they cunningly make the shape of its new off-roader. Great planning? Yes. Great viewing? No. In TV, it felt half as good as a Channel 4 ident. In print, we are not afforded a view of the real car at all. Instead, we see something that looks like it limped in last in a banger derby. It's a fail. Especially when compared with an ad done a few years back using the same technique for the Land Rover Freelander by a certain agency that I happen to work for now. Masai tribesmen, anyone?
Guinness. Lastly, a nice little viral that makes me feel all warm and gooey about being back in Blighty again. Yes, it feels a little Python, a little derivative. But it made me laugh - a fairly essential prerequisite for St Paddy's Day and a viral beer ad. Comic-timing-wise, it's great. It also alludes to a pub crawl brilliantly without falling foul of those fun-suckers at Clearcast. No easy feat. One criticism. Because it exudes Britishness, from the pastiche sheep dog trial to the flat cap, flat vowels of the two Yorkshire commentators, "Round up your mates" feels more John Smith's than Arthur Guinness.
That's me. If you don't like what I said, feel free to call me a c**t at email@example.com. At least, that way, I'll know where I stand.
Saatchi & Saatchi
When you love an industry more than (almost!) anything else, you want it to prosper. You want our community, our industry, to keep seeking to find out how good it can be.
At its best, our industry sells things brilliantly, in a way none of us have ever seen them sold before - such as using the story of The Three Little Pigs to sell a modern media channel. At its best, creativity, when applied to business, has an effect the rational mind did not expect. That is the beauty of what we can do. Delivering results people didn't think possible is what we are here for. However, the truth is what we find ourselves doing every day can often get in the way. So, as a lover of our industry, I open up my package this week looking to see who focused on what we are here for, and who let other things get in the way.
I begin with Dulux. A lady paints a room the red of a boudoir. Her husband comes home and the red sets him off, they get it on, then they reappear with loads of kids and repaint the walls grey again. It's all about home improvement, apparently. I missed the meeting this was discussed in. I probably booked the wrong room. I don't understand. I might ask my mum.
With the latest Starbucks commercial, I understood what was happening, but my issue with it is that it does not feel like a message to broadcast from a brand to people. It feels like something you let people who like you tell other people about. Too often, agencies try - and fail - to use social media for a broadcast message. This way around probably won't work either.
In the next spot, things and people from the world of adventure sports assemble the Nissan Juke. Again, I get what it wants to say. But it's not really trying to have an effect in the world above and beyond basic rational expectation.
In the Ikea print campaign, they have found a real princess who loves her Ikea mattress. I have a sore neck and am thinking about a new mattress now. Not brilliant, but it is doing a job.
Turning to the online film for Guinness on St Patrick's Day, and I finally find someone at least trying to have an effect on the world, rather than just delivering on some meeting notes. It didn't engage throughout and the tone strays a little towards lager rather than Guinness. However, it attempted to have some significance in consumers' lives. Thank you.
Finally, PlayStation has a Rizzle Kicks pop promo of their lives and a competition to sell the PlayStation Vita. They have tried to do something different. I am just not sure anyone watching will do anything different as a result.
I wanted to like everything more. I just didn't. Memo to self and friends:
We all love our industry. We all know what we are here for and shouldn't let the things we find ourselves doing get in the way of the role we can play. We owe the people around us more.