Today, you know how your campaign will be received, pretty much instantly after the first spot airs. I'm straight on Tweetdeck watching the comments come in. It's terrifying to watch. Sink? Swim? There's always good and bad, but you can work out how you've done in that year of creative development in minutes. It's incredible.
But some of the harshest critics of our work rather conveniently keep their names private. Who is "@adturds"? You can guess the tone of his comments, can't you. But his anonymity lets him wax lyrical without reprisals. There are many like him. But there's no such luck for me. My photo and my name are at the top of this page.
Let's start with a shocker.
I watched this Aviva (6) ad on telly and suffered heavy bruising to the chest where my jaw hit it. Which I suppose is the intended reaction. I'm sure it was the most difficult ad to write in the campaign - we have a comedian and the brief is ... well ... death. Ahhh, right. Credit where credit is due - it's really powerful. I was expecting a rather more jovial punchline. I feel manipulated. Paul Whitehouse predisposes me to think one way and expect certain things. Then we have the "bet you didn't realise I was dead" bit, and I feel used.
No-one dies in the ad for Kit Kat (3). Although health and safety regulations were breached on more than one occasion, as some crane operators line up their wrecking balls to form a Newton's cradle. Nice enough and really well shot. It just feels like it was written in the 80s. It feels like a classic Kit Kat ad from around that time. But I've just seen it's Pick of the Week. So what do I know?
Children may die in the next spot for Save the Children (1). But with its new positioning of "no child born to die", we should be all right. It's a stylish film shot by Chris Palmer and looks great.
Poverty-stricken children are shown projections of wealthy and successful people. Not sure how this is going to help keep children alive. The whole thing is a filmic triumph, but average on a communications level. I should feel motivated and moved right now. Not admiring the beautiful post-production work. The "no child born to die" line is great, though.
Virgin Atlantic (2) has made another poster. Manchester to Vegas.
I like Virgin posters - there's no messing around. Welcome to Las Vegas, Chuck. Job done.
Bisto (5) is encouraging kids to unite and be on their best behaviour, and in return they want proper food with proper gravy - Bisto, presumably. My kids behave if they want new rollerblades, or at least a Kinder egg. And as much as they like gravy, they'd be equally happy with ketchup. Advertising resonates when there is a solid truth at the core. In this ad, however charming and well-performed by the kids, it doesn't add up.
Finally, some print by Wieden & Kennedy for Lactofree (4). Of all the briefs being bandied around the W&K creative department. this must be one of the toughest. With so much to explain, everyone involved has kept their thinking super simple and made their point well. Personally, I find restraint hard - I like everything turned up to 11. But thankfully here there was some. You can have milk without the lactose. So there.
PHOTOGRAPHER - Garry Simpson, photographer, represented by Vue (campaigns include British Airways, Land Rover, Nissan, Vodafone)
I pass eight billboards on the short walk from the station to the studio. A daily update to the health of print advertising, an area I predominantly work in. Over the past few years, the billboards have had periods of lying empty or unchanged, but today they're all flourishing again. It's a faint recovery, six of the eight are copy-driven ads and the other two are grabs from a TV show. Not great when you take photographs for a living, so my fingers are crossed to review some great print work with the eye-catching use of photography.
I'll start with Aviva (6), a life insurance ad with a clever twist. I didn't anticipate the twist and repeat viewings delivered details I was surprised I'd missed. Why doesn't Dad help Mum down the stairs with her suitcase? Why only three passports for a family of four? I haven't been a huge fan of the Paul Whitehouse Aviva ads, never quite sure if I'm being sold Aviva or Whitehouse's range as a comic actor. However, this is a winner in my book - it's well-executed, doesn't feel rushed and the emotion is memorable.
On to Bisto (5). I enjoyed watching this one and laughed along the way. We see a number of naughty children, all promising to be good if they're given proper food with Bisto gravy. The boy in his untidy bedroom is fantastic, there's a Danny DeVito look about him - top stuff. The only thing that bothers me is the line at the end. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but am I to assume that modern living has left our kids lacking proper food from their overworked parents? Having said that, the vignettes are charming and funny, the children directed beautifully and I wanted to watch it again.
Now to the well-established "Have a break, have a Kit Kat (3)", which is reworded in the opening voiceover to "Make the most of your break". The story involves five tower crane operators with wrecking balls creating the ultimate 80s desktop toy. The visual stunt is well-executed, the music sets the tone, but shouldn't we see the guy enjoying his Kit Kat at the end? His break seemed limited to one wafer at the start, hence the reword.
Virgin Atlantic (2) next. My first impression was who's Chuck? It's an American name on an American sign, so which Chuck are we welcoming to Las Vegas? Chuck Norris? Chuck Berry? Both great Chucks, in my opinion. I looked a little harder and noticed Manchester, everything became clear.
Next a press ad, this time with cardboard cutout copy for Lactofree (4) milk. It's playfully executed riding on the trend for all things paper in the still-life genre. The visual simplicity makes it a legible read, but will you spend the time? I feel it's trying to say too much - it's selling Lactofree milk, but also acts as an infomercial for lactose intolerance.
Save the Children (1) shows footage of the great and the good projected Cinema Paradiso-style on to the walls of an African village. The music is melancholy with undertones of African chanting. This is a beautiful ad that pulls on the heartstrings. I'm not entirely sure an ad of this nature should look this good. Is the reality being overpolished? But its execution does push the emotion home. Maybe we can relate more to a cinematic portrayal of hardship over documentary realism. Whatever the reason, it made me stop and consider the shocking statistic that eight million children don't live to five. Definitely the bestest, this one.
1. SAVE THE CHILDREN
Project: No child born to die
Client: Jude Bridge, director of marketing,campaigns and communications,
Save the Children
Brief: Speak to the British public about the tragedy and scale of infant
Agency: Adam & Eve
Writers/art director: Nick Sheppard, Tom Webber, Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: National TV
2. VIRGIN ATLANTIC
Project: Welcome to Las Vegas, Chuck
Clients: Rachel Diamond, UK advertising campaign manager; Sara Cohen, UK
advertising campaign executive, Virgin Atlantic
Brief: Mark the launch of Virgin Atlantic's new route direct from
Manchester to Las Vegas
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Stephen Moss
Art director: Jolyon Finch
Exposure: Press, posters
3. KIT KAT
Project: Kit Kat crane
Client: Kit Kat (Nestle)
Brief: Celebrate Kit Kat's role in encouraging better breaks
Agency: JWT London
Writers/art directors: Ryan Lawson, Andy Smith
Director: Steve Cope
Production company: Rattling Stick
Exposure: National TV
Project: Lactofree 2011
Client: Lactofree (Arla Foods)
Brief: Educate people on Lactofree product
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Writers/art directors: Ben Everitt, Sophie Bodoh
Photographer: Sara Morris
Illustrator: Owen Gildersleeve
Clients: Mark Tyldesley, director of savoury; Michael Gillane, head of
marketing GSS; Fiona Johnston, marketing manager, Bisto
Brief: Drive trial among lapsed and non-users
Agency: McCann London
Writers/art directors: Neil Clarke, Jay Phillips
Director: Tony Barry
Production company: n/s
Exposure: National TV
Project: Holiday packing
Client: Sue Helmont, head of brand, Aviva UK
Brief: Your family's future can continue as normal even when you are no
longer around to make it happen
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Dave Buchanan
Art director: Mike Hannett
Director: Declan Lowney
Production company: HSI
Exposure: TV, online