I came across an interesting stat last week: 49 per cent of people who are watching TV are online at the same time. In other words, half the people watching your ad are not only next to a shop, they're by the checkout. Surely there's never been a better time to try to sell them something?
But the odd thing is, most of the links at the end of TV ads tend to take you to some random piece of faux entertainment, barely related to the product or brand. Is there really an audience for the director's cut of the Sarson's Vinegar ad? Are there people out there who'll actually download the Findus Lean Cuisine Tiddlywinks app?
I have to put my cards on the table - I like persuasion. Be it a website, TV ad or a beer-mat, it should make you feel better about the company that paid for it. Whether it's a "Wow! They make cool stuff" (Apple) or simply "They seem a nice bunch" (Innocent Smoothies). Well, Innocent Smoothies circa 2004. (Oops, I think I've just ruled us out of its next three pitches - we'll have to wait till next year now.)
There's so much cheap, irrelevant content being produced that I question whether it'll benefit the brands. Now TalkTalk's (5) Bright Star Studio is not only relevant, it's cool. A co-branded microsite that lets regular people film themselves singing karaoke, the films are then housed on the site. The best of these are then taken and aired as break bumpers in The X Factor. It's not that this is incredibly unusual, it's that a lot of effort has gone into the way it's done. It's simple to use but the results look really professional, with duotone colourwashes and animation appearing as you sing along. As a result, I'm sure it'll encourage people to use it.
BBC (6). Olivia, my 11-year-old daughter, started big school last week, so it's impossible for me not to feel warm about this next ad. We see a wide-eyed child getting dressed as an astronaut, then packed off through the front door, lunchbox in hand, floating off into pitch-black space accompanied by the "D-OI-OI-OI-OI-NG" bit from David Bowie's Space Oddity. The strapline says: "Every September, thousands of children begin the biggest adventure of their lives - BBC Schools Season."
Transport for London (3). It's sunny. Lots of happy types ride their bikes home to the tune of "Gonna ride my bike until I get home"
by Mark Ronson. Two minutes later, a strapline appears: "To get started, training or plan your route, go to tfl.gov.uk. Catch up with the Bicycle Films." (Perhaps, having had your appetite whetted, you can see those happy types take the long route home!) A bike gets you home? True, everyone needs to get home. But surely there are more persuasive strategies?
Having spoken to Zoopla (4) at the chemistry stage, this is a great chance to appear magnanimous and not bitter at all. Assorted couples talk about how casually they swap and find new partners - "Improve your chances in the property market". It turns out they were talking about property all along, not sex. Those cunning little rascals. Presumably, you improve your chances of picking the right house by looking at houses. There are so many good property websites already out there, why bookmark this one?
The Miller (2) ad features "clean art", a form of "street art where the artists use high-pressure water hoses to remove dirt from walls and buildings to create designs". It looks nice, the people are Hoxton handsome and the colour is desaturated. It's all very cool, but just felt more Homebasey than beery.
A bunch of golf pros attempt "the greatest shot ever", a kind of Crossbar Challenge, only with golf balls replacing footballs, a gong instead of a goal, a seven-iron replacing a leg, a ... oh, you get the idea. I found myself on the European Tour (1) site, watching other greatest shots ever from the Tour. It got me thinking golf could be a pretty exciting game. Now that's persuasion.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Guy Hayward, chief executive, JWT UK Group
The talk outside the UK is that London has lost its creative sparkle and that we are not as hot as we think we are. In this week's work, there is good stuff and not such good stuff but, in general, it demonstrates how elusive truly world-beating work is for us.
TalkTalk (5). Very entertaining and nicely done. The success is clearly visible by the amount of videos uploaded by consumers. You could probably spend hours trawling through the hundreds of pages of videos that over-eager wannabes have made themselves. That said, I'm tone-deaf, so I'm not likely to be having a go myself. But what this work shows is that sometimes the creative idea is less about the words and pictures but more about how you use technology to let people do things and get involved.
BBC (6). The TV ad is a teaser for the Schools Season on the Beeb by showing a child being sent out in the big world. As ever, the advertising for the BBC is beautifully made. One would imagine that parents could engage online, especially given that a URL is provided on the execution. The website, however, is fairly plain, which is a shame. The "get involved" section on the site should be more obvious and they could have provoked a heated debate. I did find it amusing that they used a David Bowie song. I recently learned from the Financial Times that Ziggy Stardust had a scrap during his school days that resulted in the permanent dilation of a pupil. This has created the illusion that his eyes are different colours. Perhaps his mum should have given him a spaceman's helmet to wear to school that day.
Transport for London (3). First off, the clips are hard to find online and the navigation is even more problematic. When I found them (eventually), I was struck by the mundaneness of the films. Cycling in London is exciting (and a little hairy) and this should have been encapsulated in some way. The five clips, two of which focus on Edith Bowman and Dermot O'Leary, are as dull as a cycling proficiency video. London could be the greatest cycling city in the world, but not when it is portrayed like this. Boris, give us a call.
Zoopla (4). At the start, I thought this was going to be a gentle pastiche of the great Prudential "I want to be" ads. However, the ad for Zoopla loses its way and, by the end, you almost feel that the online estate agent is a bit embarrassed by what it actually does. I'm not sure why Zoopla wants to hide what it actually does for so long. It just needs funnier writing.
Miller (2). This is a decent piece of work but I was surprised by the spot's lack of faith in the power of its own communication. While it is a nice thought and well shot, the title "Clean Streets by Miller Genuine Draft" (which appears at the very start) completely undermines it. It gives away the game in the beginning and makes the commercial less intriguing. A shame.
The European Tour (1). This reminds me of the famous Adidas work in which Jonny Wilkinson and David Beckham showed each other how to kick their respective balls. Showing athletes unplugged is a nice antidote to the general Hollywoodisation of sports stars. In this film, some top golfers compete to hit a ball so that it skims across a lake to hit a gong. Rather than untouchable superstars, the players come across as ordinary blokes with untouchable skills. It is very watchable and gives the players real character in a sport that, marital scandals aside, is fairly colourless.
1. EUROPEAN TOUR
Project: The 200-yard gong shot
Client: European Tour
Brief: Demonstrate that on the Tour, you'll see the most imaginative,
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Steve Howell
Art director: Rick Dodds
Directors: Rick Dodds, Steve Howell, Ed Sayers
Production companies: European Tour Productions, Speers Film
Exposure: TV, viral
Project: Reveal the extraordinary
Client: Richard Ingram, marketing manager, SAB Miller
Brief: Miller Genuine Draft is uniquely brewed and cold filtered
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writers/art directors: Stuart Royal, Craig Addy
Director: Lynn Fox
Production company: Blink
Exposure: TV and cinema in UK and Ireland
3. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Project: On pedals
Client: Transport for London
Agency: Drum PHD
Art director: n/s
Director: Helen Downing
Production company: JA Digital
Client: James Burgess, marketing consultant, Zoopla
Writer: Javier Romartinez
Art director: Stephen Misir
Director: Nick Jones
Production company: Another Film Company
Exposure: TV, print, digital
Project: BrightStar Studio
Client: Tristia Clarke, commercial director; Olivia Streatfeild,
marketing director; Zoe Vafadari, head of brand; Dan Crompton,
sponsorship manager, TalkTalk
Agency: CHI & Partners
Creative team: Warren Moore, Tom Skinner, Dan Beckett, Thiago de Moraes
Production company: B-Reel
Exposure: TV, online
Project: School Season
Clients: Ash Makkar, David Dunn, Emma Ryan, BBC
Brief: Promote BBC Two's new School Season, exploring key issues around
primary and secondary education in Britain
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Andy Forrest
Art director: Nic Hawes
Director: Yann Demange
Production company: Red Bee