Funny thing, fear. Only a few days ago, I was suspended 105 feet in the air on Thorpe Park's Slammer (www.thorpepark.com/rides/slammer.aspx). I saw my life rush before my eyes as the contraption proceeded to violently spin me through 360 degrees - backwards. Strangely, I did find being hurled out of my comfort zone somewhat liberating. This I pondered while weighing up whether I would suffer a stroke or merely a distended hernia. After disembarking, all I could do was swallow the sick in my mouth, adjust my combover and smile benignly at the overexcited feral teenagers in my charge. But I did feel invigorated. Such is the buzz of contemplating suicide without the commitment. So, with this newly found thirst for extreme thrills, I contemplate this week's work.
McDonald's (1) is celebrating the unpredictability of the British weather. Apparently, it's responsible for yielding first-rate farm produce. While that may be true, it hardly makes up for ruining more holidays than an itinerant Icelandic ash cloud. Whingeing aside, this is a clever business solution: it makes MaccyD feel both local and wholesome. And it's a nice film, too. I suspect this American brand actually needs to sit at the heart of the nation's comfort zone. This may not be the most thrilling 60 seconds of your life but it's anextremely credible effort.
Virgin Media's (3) www.10thingsproject.com is a curious piece of engagement. By utilising, among others, Flickr and YouTube, consumers can celebrate ten years of broadband by building a page full of their favourite content from the past decade. Creating a conversation around broadband with Virgin Media at its core is an interesting strategy. But this is a bit like a rollercoaster: fun for two minutes but is fundamentally taking you nowhere fast. It doesn't exactly portray the brand as a very forward-looking organisation, either. And I am sooo bored of top ten lists. Aren't you?
GlastoTag for Orange (2) is attempting to create a world record for the greatest number of tags in a picture. Who knows why? Attempting to create a world record for the greatest number of customers would be more exciting. Although I fear this rather static execution is hardly best suited to achieving that goal. And bathing in the reflected glory of Glastonbury is a bit like me at a theme park: just because you're there, it doesn't make you down with the "yoof".
Cancer Research UK (6) has created a deeply compelling film that will certainly drag you outside of your comfort zone. Ironically, it uses a very tired structure and editing style but to great effect. The film captures real doctors and patients as they recount their extremely daunting experiences. This makes for a highly emotional spot. I sincerely hope this works. I also hope they have the data that proves that a 40-second TV spot is still the best way to spearhead a steady stream of donations.
More charity. This time, Land Rover (4) uses a very neat visual to dramatise the brand's association with Nordoff-Robbins - a musical therapy charity. Nothing wrong with this: great visual theme that seamlessly marries the two brands together. Quite what this expensive-looking communication is compelling me to do is another matter.
More cars. Mazda (5) claims to know a thing or two about thrill rides. Its new viral shows some crazy guy riding the nose of a whale as it leaps out of the sea. Fantastic film, very funny but a tad too generic for me. "Thrills" is hardly an original position for a car manufacturer to try to own. (Although I would be more forgiving if it were an ad for the Pagini Zonda S.) I fear people may struggle to remember the brand with this one. Nice try, though.
So, not a bad week. But no white-knuckle ride. But I guess that's the problem with trying to live dangerously - you always end up getting pulled back by "health and safety".
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Simon Francis, chief executive, Saatchi & Saatchi Europe, the Middle East & Africa
What are we for?
All of us in advertising, communications, media etc, what are we for?
While it's a bit of a heavy question for a Thursday morning before the first cappuccino, perhaps it's worth thinking about before we look at the work.
Maybe if we're "for" anything, it's got to be about having whoppingly big ideas that motivate and move people - lots of people - to behave in a way that's beneficial for our clients.
If we do this, we're valuable - really valuable - to clients. We'd be the first person a client CEO would call when he needs help, and the last person to be bothered by pesky procurement cyclops.
So, that is the lens I'm going to use to look at this work - are there big ideas that make the agencies valuable to their clients?
Mazda (5). Please have a look at this film and the website. Go on, look, I dare you. The Mazda MX-5 is a modern classic. This communication isn't. Just have a look at the endframe - the line, the art direction, the amount of time it's on-screen! I'm assuming the film was designed to be "viral" and to get people to the website. It won't, and even if it did get you to the website, that may be a mistake, given its poor quality. I'm trying to be nice, but this sort of work lets down our industry.
Orange (2). Here you can tag you and your mates from a picture taken at Glasto. Simple, sweet, sticky, viral, well thought-through and fits with "together we can do more" (sort of). I actually really like this, I just wish it had another purpose - getting into the Guinness WorldRecords for the most tags doesn't really do it for me. It may deliver more value if it did.
Land Rover (4). Why? Why is Land Rover supporting this charity? I have nothing against what seems a good cause but shouldn't a planner suggest a better brand association? Why press? Is this really the best medium for a musical charity? Naturally, I love the brilliance of the art direction. It is as lovely as the writing is lazy. I still have no idea why Land Rover is involved, what I'm supposed to think or do. So, it is utterly beautiful, but pointless.
Virgin Media (3). This celebrates the history of broadband and, by using different media, allows you to see the benefits of broadband. Any broadband, not specifically Virgin, as far as I can tell. On one hand, it's clever and inventive, but I couldn't be arsed to fill in all the stuff - it gave me no real reason to do so, and would've taken ages. I may be wrong but I don't think millions of people will participate and love Virgin Media as a result.
Cancer Research UK (6). Presumably the aim of this traditional TV ad is to get donations. There is no intent to try to create a movement, or really use other media, and no real PR angle for further integration. The agency has decided to use emotional power to try to arrest the viewer. For me, the (tired) visual technique used just gets in the way of the narrative and prevents the message achieving its objective. But, my goodness, I do hope I'm wrong and the phone rings off the hook.
McDonald's (1). Well, it's beautifully crafted and in this day and age of crazy timings and dainty budgets, that's an achievement in itself. I'm not sure what the weather has to do with McDonald's using British chicken, though, and this ad doesn't tell me.
So, are there any whoppingly big ideas in this batch? Have the agencies added huge value to their client with this work? I have to say, I don't think so; there is some nice craft along the way, but no big idea at the heart of any of this work.
Client: Jill McDonald, chief marketing officer, McDonald's UK
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writer: Graham Lakeland
Art director: Richard Robinson
Director: Simon Ratigan
Production company: HLA
Exposure: National TV
Project: Orange GlastoTag
Writer/art director: Poke
3. VIRGIN MEDIA
Project: 10 Things
Client: Sonia Sudhakar, head of online marketing, Virgin Media
Brief: Create a social digital property for Virgin Media's programme for
the anniversary of ten years of broadband
Agency: Start Creative
Writer: Glenn Law
Art directors: Trevor Chambers, Matt Page, Nick Watmough
Exposure: Social networking sites
4. LAND ROVER
Project: Sound wave
Client: Les Knight, national communications manager, Land Rover
Brief: Demonstrate Land Rover's close support of the Nordoff-Robbins
Music Therapy Foundation
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Tim Cordell
Art director: Tim Cordell
Project: Mazda MX-5 "thrills"
Client: Claire Andrews, head of marketing, Mazda Motors UK
Brief: Promote the thrilling drive experience of the Mazda MX-5
Writers/art directors: Darren Keff, Phillip Meyler
6. CANCER RESEARCH UK
Project: Giving news
Client: Carolan Davidge, director of brand and PR, Cancer Research UK
Brief: Raise awareness that through the work that Cancer Research UK
does, many people are now surviving cancer
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Milo Campbell
Art director: Sonny Adorjan
Director: Joanna Bailey
Production company: Bare Films
Exposure: TV, online, in-shop posters, radio