Feature

The Work: Private View

CREATIVE - Steve Vranakis, creative director, VCCP

George Lois was born in 1931, in New York. An American art director and designer best known for more than 92 covers he designed for Esquire magazine that featured Norman Mailer, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol and Germaine Greer. He was the son of Greek immigrants (me too!) and his career includes stints at agencies such as Doyle Dane Bernbach and, later, his own creative hotshops: Papert, Koenig, Lois and Lois, Holland, Callaway. He's responsible for some of the most iconic and awarded campaigns of all time, including "I want my MTV", along with other famous work for Tommy Hilfiger, Xerox and ESPN.

But, most importantly, he's credited with developing what he called "The Big Idea". Imagine being the bloke who had the idea for "The Big Idea". The guy who went on to influence how an entire industry would go about their approach to creativity. Almost a cliche by today's standards and a given, really, for any agency worth its salt. But, still, the undisputed king of kings in an incredibly evolving world of multiplying media. So, how "Big" are these bad boys below?

The Economist (1). "Prisoners should/should not be allowed to vote" is what The Economist is asking. A few years back, AOL, of all companies, did an iconic campaign posing similar questions that debated the merits of the internet. It's a good thing/a bad thing ...

The key to its brilliant and big idea was that it crucially encouraged you to "discuss". Acknowledging different points of view is good. Creating a forum for thousands of people to debate in is big.

The Guardian and The Observer (6). The World Cup. The one and only global event that allows the nations of the world to officially go to war with each other in order to prove once and for all that a country is only as good as its football team. It's where nationalism meets adrenalin. So it's quite comforting and surprising to see this next spot set against this sea of World Cup noise. Set to a charming little ballad with a lovely animation style that manages to capture all the excitement in a very civilised way. More importantly, they let you know you can follow your team any way, where and when you like. Online, on your mobile and even in the paper! Now that's big.

Hovis (2). Amelie on acid is the only way I can describe this next one, and I want what she's having on my breakfast toast. I love this ad. It's cool. She's cool. It's shot cool. It's set to a cool track. Who says big FMCG brands can't be cool?

NSPCC (4). Exam stress is what the NSPCC is helping us with next using a "synchronised desk troupe". Now, I don't watch Pineapple Dance Studios, or Glee, and I never really studied for my own exams (hence how I ended up as a creative in advertising), so I'm probably the least-qualified person to pass comment on how to beat the stress that comes with them. What stresses me out big-time is the striking resemblance it bears to Si & Ad's Tracey Thorn music video.

The FA (3). Users can create their own England shirts complete with their name and number, allowing them to join the "official England squad", and then post it as their profile picture on Facebook. It's a nice enough idea but England will need more than "nice" if they're going to make it through to the next round. It already looks as if Ray Winstone (No 25), Tim Lovejoy (No 26) and Stephen Fry (No 30) have joined in. The three of them would make a big addition to the line-up in midfield with Winstone "attacking" and being flanked by Lovejoy and Fry in a celebrity-struck diamond formation. Never say never ...

Ladbrokes (5). "Got the feeling?" is what Ian Wright and Chris Kamara (who's allegedly changed his name to Chris Cabanga for another World Cup campaign) are asking you in Ladbrokes' World Cup offering. This Moulin Rouge meets The Italian Job big extravaganza is perfectly fine until that annoying bloke in the restaurant wakes up from his dream and yells: "Yes, we're going to win the World Cup." I liked the idea of it being a bit of a rallying cry for our boys in South Africa until it was abruptly grounded back in adland.

So there you have it. The big, the bad and the bigger. Who says ideas can't be measured by their size?

CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Stevie Spring, group chief executive, Future

Oh great. Private View in a week when half the work's about the bloody World Cup.

So let's hear it for The Grauniad ...

A football ad for less than super-fans. We need to know what's going on. We don't want to be left out of the conversation.Even if we haven't seen the match. So we can follow on The Guardian and The Observer (6) any time, anywhere, any place. Another piece of charming animation. A catchy jingle (fighting for headspace now with Plastic Bertrand - see later). Reminds me of GGT circa 1988 when I used to be able to sing the entire showreel. Another couple of viewings and I could sing this too. An ad definitely written for me.

The Ladbrokes (5) work definitely wasn't. Not only am I take-it-or-leave-it on the football front, I'm not a gambler (online, in-store or by phone!). I get the "Got the feeling. Get to Ladbrokes" proposition. Strong idea. But lost in the self-indulgence of the too-clever-by-half first 40 seconds. Client could have got most of the impact for a fraction of the time (and cost). And doesn't strike me as appealing to, or engaging of, your average punter, anyway. Especially in a world of cheap, easy, competitive online rivals stealing Ladbrokes' thunder. The account team obviously want friends in the creative department more than they want to deliver for the client. Harsh, but probably true.

Not a footie fan. Not a gambler. Not on Facebook. (Well, on it. But not active.) So find reviewing one of the gazillion or so Facebook apps pretty pointless.

With the FA (3) app, you can post a Photoshopped pic of yourself in an England kit. So what? Topicality isn't enough to get you cut-through online. Harsh, but definitely true.

Infinite content in an endless sea of possibilities where the audience has to find you and not vice versa isn't the easy low (no) cost option. As the NSPCC (4) will find out.

You can't just produce a film and say it will go viral if it's not funny, clever, cute, different, shocking or fails to capture the zeitgeist and the imagination. It'll just get lost. Drowned in that sea of endless content. And this footage is hardly "roller-skating babies". It doesn't even do its basic job of capturing the nightmare of exam-time stress. Which is a shame. ChildLine is a brilliant charity delivering a great service. But no-one will see this film except friends and family of the kids in it and the team who made it.

And I fear that "no-one will see it" may be the fate of the new Economist (1) work. Not because it's not challenging, immersive, engaging. Not because it isn't spot-on for the cleverest of brands. And not because it doesn't capture a microcosm of The Economist - giving both sides of important debates and showing that complicated issues aren't black and white.

As I say, spot-on for the "360" brand of The Economist as magazine, website, book publisher, data provider, conference organiser ...

But no-one will see it because these are supposed to be posters. They're not. They're far too long and complicated for outdoor.

Remember the six-second rule? They're good press ads. And they made me yearn for the big, red, simple, award-winning poster campaign of yore ...

In a way that the new Hovis (2) ad didn't make me yearn for the good old Hovis ads of the 70s. And I thought it would. But I've been singing ca Plane since I saw it (watch out for Plastic Bertrand topping the download chart).

Bit long. (Bet the 30-second cut-down gets all the airtime.) But a simple juxta for a big claim: the only bread baked with 50 per cent oats sounds like it'll do me good. Apparently, it's time for bad girls to get good. And oat-eating - rather than oat-sowing? - may not be a bad start.

(Note to self ...!)

1. THE ECONOMIST
Project: Where do you stand?
Client: Nigel Ludlow, managing director, Economist UK
Brief: n/s
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: n/s
Art director: n/s
Exposure: Outdoor, digital outdoor

2. HOVIS
Project: Miss Chief
Client: Jon Goldstone, marketing director, Hovis
Brief: Launch the new Hovis Hearty Oats
Agency: MCBD
Writer/art director: Danny Brooke-Taylor
Director: Vince Squibb
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: National TV

3. THE FA
Project: Official England Squad Facebook app
Clients: Simon Freedman, group head of marketing; Victoria Wing,
marketing manager, The FA
Brief: Use the World Cup to convert the UK's enthusiasm for football
into participation
Agency: Dare
Writer: Jonny Watson
Art director: Dan Harrison
Production company: iPlatform
Exposure: Online

4. NSPCC
Project: Mexican wave exam
Client: Ian MacArthur, creative director and head of brand marketing,
NSPCC
Brief: Give young people a sense of perspective at a stressful time and
raise awareness that they can turn to ChildLine for help in beating exam
stress
Agency: 3angrymen Productions
Writer/art director/director: Thom Wood
Production company: 3angrymen Productions
Exposure: Viral

5. LADBROKES
Project: Got the feeling? Get to Ladbrokes
Client: John O'Reilly, managing director of eGaming, Ladbrokes
Brief: Dramatise the feelings that lead to a betting decision to prompt
football fans to bet with Ladbrokes over the World Cup
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Curtis Brittles
Art director: Will Bate
Director: Vaughan Arnell
Production company: Serious Pictures
Exposure: TV, in-store, press, online

6. THE GUARDIAN AND THE OBSERVER
Project: Gola mondo
Client: Richard Furness, head of newspaper sales & marketing, Guardian
and Observer
Brief: Support a month of football with The Guardian and The Observer
and raise awareness of their huge range of multiplatform editorial
content
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London
Writers: David Stevens, Rob Burleigh
Art director: n/s
Production company: Peppermelon at Stink
Exposure: TV

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