PRIVATE VIEW

So how much does a designer who records most of the TV he watches

and fast-forwards through the commercials know about advertising? Not a

huge amount, it's true. But I do know a bit about what makes

communication work and, in particular, the way that humour - and its

slightly more sophisticated elder sibling, wit - can help to engage the

sympathy and interest of an audience. So, sticking with what I know (and

hoping to conceal my bottomless ignorance of your chosen calling), let's

see if this week's ads make us laugh .



How funny do you find the idea of a seal having its skull caved in with

a baseball bat? For me, it's something less than a thigh-slapper. So the

Nescafe Ice posters, appropriately enough, leave me very cold

indeed.



Presumably this is aimed at kids, so there's always the "hey, grandad,

you just don't get it" defence. Er, no, I don't; and I also think the

illustration is quite nasty - falling quite definitely on the wrong side

of the poorly drawn/naively charming divide.



Right, a little bit of politics next. And Labour would like us to join

them in ribald hoots of derision at the thought of a Conservative

government.



But, really, film poster pastiches! If this had been a student brief,

it's the kind of solution I would expect half of the class to come up

with; the top-of-head idea that needs to be put aside before the real

work begins. It's crudely executed, too, with a fraction of the bite

that political cartoonists such as Steve Riddell or Peter Brookes get

into their work, day after day. Laugh? I nearly took the Conservatives

seriously.



The Foster's commercial shows us an Australian-drinking-and-thinking

feng shui consultant at work. Quite a funny idea, I suppose. But the

punchline seems to be slightly thrown away - with a wide shot of our

hero's work that doesn't really register until you've seen it a few

times. At least the lavatorial humour is appropriate, though.



The campaign for Fox's Biscuits is, frankly, mystifying. Whatever

possessed the client to spend huge sums on a series of commercials in

which dysfunctional people, maddened by modern technology, are treated

by therapists from the Fox's biscuit factory? To make matters worse, the

treatment doesn't even work; the nutcases remain nuts. I can only

explain this campaign by imagining a newly promoted marketing director,

brow-beaten by his agency into believing that this approach - radical!

Zeitgeisty! Off the wall! - was the perfect way to make his mark. Sadly,

wrong.



Just as you're starting to wonder why Campaign invited this curmudgeonly

know-nothing to give his uninformed and ungracious opinions ... relief,

in the form of the Aero hula-hooping mouse ad. It's very funny,

flawlessly executed (with a mini classic of a performance from the

slobbish Geordie bloke) and totally charming. Now that's what I call a

successful use of humour.



Which brings me, finally, to a totally unfunny commercial. But that's

OK, because the last thing the new Jaguar X-type wants us to do is

laugh.



Lustful and lascivious feelings are the kind this aims to evoke; and,

speaking for myself - sadly no longer a member of the "new Jag

generation" that's being seduced here - it's pretty successful in this.

It's highly atmospheric, the visuals and music combining to create a

powerfully amoral mood of incipient depravity. (Or is that just me?)



Anyway, thanks very much for having me. And, before I head back to my

own parallel universe, let me leave you with this thought: like any

sharp-edged tool, humour needs to be handled with the greatest

respect.



JAGUAR

Project: X-type

Client: Phil Cazaly, director, global marketing

Brief: Create an advertising campaign for the launch of the Jaguar

X-type

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Writer: Marwan Khuri

Art director: Jill Applebaum

Director: Jeff Darling

Production company: @Radical.media

Exposure: National TV

LABOUR

Project: Election campaign

Client: The Labour Party

Brief: "You can't trust the Tories on the economy"

Agency: TBWA/London

Writer: Alan Moseley

Art director: Graham Cappi

Typographer: Dan Beckett

Exposure: National 48-sheet posters

SCOTTISH COURAGE

Project: Foster's Instant Karma

Client: John Boatia, brands director

Brief: Continue to promote Foster's through the "He who drinks

Australian, thinks Australian" campaign

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Writer: Johnny Lander

Art director: Steve Paskin

Director: Danny Kleinman

Production company: Spectre

Exposure: National terrestrial and Sky TV

NESTLE UK

Project: Nescafe Ice: seal

Client: Katy Hilditch, senior category manager, impulse drinks

Brief: Further the image of Nescafe Ice as a young urban drink

Agency: McCann-Erickson

Creative team: Rob Brown and Damon Hutson-Slinn

Animator/illustrator: Damon Hutson-Slinn

Exposure: National urban poster sites

NESTLE ROWNTREE

Project: Aero

Client: Andy Groves, brand manager

Brief: Make Aero stand out in a crowded marketplace

Agency: Lowe Lintas

Writer: Vince Squibb

Art director: Vince Squibb

Director: Vince Squibb

Production companies: Paul Weiland Film Company, Glassworks, Passion

Pictures

Exposure: National TV

FOX'S BISCUITS

Project: Brand campaign

Client: Neil Hepplewhite, marketing manager

Brief: Continue to express Fox's mission in a relevant and contemporary

way

Agency: St Luke's

Writer: Alistair Campbell

Art director: Suzanne Hails

Director: Declan Lowney

Production company: Tomboy Films

Exposure: Regional TV