Feature

The Work: Private view

CREATIVE - James Hilton, chief creative officer, AKQA

Private View with Phil & Jeff, live from the commentary box.

Phil: "Good evening, ad fans, and welcome to another Private View. As always in the box with me, it's Jeff."

Jeff: "Well, good evening to you too, Phil, and what a spectacle we've got lined up tonight. As always, the Glass House is centre-stage, gleaming under the Campaign lights."

P: "A beautiful sight, indeed - let's throw some stones!"

J: "And here's tonight's protagonist: James Hilton from AKQA, making his way to the centre. Acknowledges the crowd with a wave."

P: "Hilton's not often seen here at Private View, Jeff, but the audience is warming to him with chants of: 'Hunt!' The word 'hunt', of course, referring to the 'hunt of the gladiator' in ancient Rome."

J: "Possibly not, but no matter as Hilton's chosen his stones and a solid choice there from the big man: a Flatty, one Shiny, a Chunk of Paving Slab, a Dung Brick, an Unremarkable and a Bag of Gravel."

P: "Controversial choice on the Gravel?"

J: "Maybe, but it's certainly gritted teeth here as Hilton enters the Glass House and takes up position. Predictions, Phil?"

P: "Well, it's anyone's guess, Jeff, although I can't imagine McCain coming off well. Hilton's no lover of oven chips, or half-baked social media campaigns, for that matter. The British Heart Foundation effort can't be feeling all that comfortable, either, as it's common knowledge this creative director has no known heart. Renault, though, could be interesting."

J: "Va va voom?"

P: "We'll have to wait and see."

J: "Well, we won't have to wait long as Hilton's put that Shiny straight through the Yell window."

P: "That's good thinking from the AKQA lad: start on a positive note. Well, the Yell (1) entry was bound to draw some criticism from the traditionalists who remember the first one but as they'll all be so old now, who cares? Nice twist on the original with some tasty online thrown in for good measure. Classic."

J: "Hilton's setting the pace early; he's whipped out his Unremarkable and sent it hurtling through Virgin Media (3). There were high hopes for this one, Phil, but it just didn't cut the mustard, did it?"

P: "No, Jeff, it didn't. It's branding by numbers from beginning to end. They're not the first to try a montage of British life set to something that sounds almost like The Streets but isn't. And they won't be the last. Frankly, I'd expect more from Virgin."

J: "Well, he's nothing like a virgin and nor has he been touched for the very first time, but he has just tossed Gravel all over Dita Von Teese. It's Renault (6)."

P: "You have to admire the front, don't you? It's a stylish spot with all the right ingredients, but you can't help feeling it lacks the iconic nature of its predecessors."

J: "Well said. And from council gritter to bouncing bomb: Hilton's launched the Flatty at Nissan (4). Don't get me wrong, I like La Roux as much as the next man, but, and you might have to help me out here, what in the name of Trev has that got to do with a Nissan Juke?"

P: "A valid point there, Jeff, and, of course, the answer is nothing."

J: "Understood. Well, nothing is exactly what the British Heart Foundation (2) isn't getting as Hilton responds to its CTA by lobbing that Chunk of Paving Slab through its window. A touch uncharitable?

P: "These are always delicate matters, but to think of all the ingenious ways they could've tackled it, you do have to wonder what they were smoking when they came up with this. Resuscitating the actress first might have been a nice touch too."

J: "Firm but fair. Well, with just one last window to break, and the Dung Brick to throw, it seems the stars have aligned for McCain (5). Think he'll smash it?"

P: "He smashed it."

JOURNALIST - Krissi Murison, editor, NME

Renault (6). I can't have watched much TV over the past decade because my first thought when I saw this was: "This is a departure from the usual Nicole and Papa ads." (Apparently, "va va voom" has been the new Clio slogan since 2002.) My second thought was: "Christ, I bet that was expensive to make." It's up there with Adidas "house party" and that 1992 Vauxhall Corsa ad with all the supermodels in terms of star-turns-per-second. To be honest, I don't envy anyone tasked with making a Renault Clio look sexy but this pulls it off with some aplomb. I'm still not sure quite when being a peeping Tom became such a socially encouraged hobby, but at least this isn't quite as pervy as that new Agent Provocateur one starring Mark Ronson's missus.

Yell (1). This is my favourite of the bunch. I'm (just about) old enough to remember the original, but am amused by the idea that half of the joke here will go over the heads of 20 per cent of the population. I guess the genius of "Day V Lately" is that it doesn't matter; it's still a great ad whether you know the history or not. I also think one of the main reasons it works so well is the attention to detail. Not only does every single one of those record stores look completely authentic, but I'm pretty sure I've encountered all those staff too.

British Heart Foundation (2). On paper, this is a really strong, simple idea. What lets it down, though, is how unbelievable the actress is. Sadly, it turns a message that should be very poignant into something so overly sentimental that it loses all its emotional impact.

Virgin Media (3). This looks so much like it was directed by Richard Curtis that I'm half expecting Bridget Jones and Colin Firth to appear in one of the windows decorating a Christmas tree. Of course, it's the brilliant Madness lyrics that make this ad. Which is why it's such a shame they got a man who sounds like he'd be better suited to voicing a Hovis ad than a proper Londoner (or even Suggs himself) to read them.

Nissan (4). It's amazing how, ten years ago, it was completely frowned upon for an artist to even have a song synched on an ad. God forbid actually do something so brazenly mercenary as to appear in the ads themselves. Now, of course, with no money left in the music industry, there's no such thing as "selling out" and collaborating with a big brand is as normal and acceptable as signing a record deal. While this one isn't quite Converse All-Stars, it's good to see La Roux actually getting their hands dirty at the Nissan Innovation Station when you click through to the website, and not just scramming as soon as the flash went off on the camera.

McCain (5). I don't know about you, but there is something about Rustic Farmer Ben (if that even is his real name/occupation/plaid shirt) that makes an easygoing pacifist like myself want to rethink my moral compass entirely. According to the accompanying blurb, this is an ad aimed at "upmarket young, single women", which is presumably also why they've chosen to fill it with words such as "fat", "guilt" and "shopping" and include a Facebook "like" icon.

ARGHHHHH! Could it get any more patronising? Have the people behind this ever actually come into direct contact with a real-life young, single woman? I'm certainly not convinced Ben has.

1 YELL
Project: Day V Lately
Client: David Parslow, UK brand and communications director, Yell
Brief: n/s
Agency: Rapier
Writer: John O'Donnell
Art director: Ed Morris
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous Enterprises
Exposure: National TV, press, poster, online display, digital outdoor

2 BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
Project: Mending Broken Hearts Appeal
Client: Betty McBride, director of policy and communications, British
Heart Foundation
Brief: n/s
Agency: Grey London
Writer: Grey London
Art director: Grey London
Director: Daniel Barber
Production company: Knucklehead
Exposure: TV, press, online, PR, social

3 VIRGIN MEDIA
Project: Our house
Client: Richard Larkham, head of brand and advertising, Virgin Media
Brief: Celebrate the huge range of self-expression in Virgin Media homes
Agency: DDB
Writer: Dave Henderson
Art director: Richard Denney
Director: Seb Edwards
Production company: Academy
Exposure: TV, online, outdoor, press, radio, DM, retail, PR

4 NISSAN
Project: Nissan Juke "Behind The Hit"
Client: Andy Jackson, online marketing manager, Nissan GB
Brief: Create a launch and awareness campaign for the new Nissan Juke
that communicates infectious energy
Agency: Digitas
Writers/art directors: Thomas Ollivier, Sav Evangelou, Mike Stone
Designers: Thomas Ollivier, Rakesh Chadee
Exposure: Live gig, online, iPhone, iPad, touchscreen, YouTube,
Facebook, Twitter

5 MCCAIN
Project: McCain Rustics
Client: Nicola Ech-Channa, communications manager, McCain Foods
Brief: Dramatise the guilt-free nature of McCain Rustics being only 3
per cent fat
Agency: CMW
Writer: George Leaney
Art director: Dan Plotkin
Designer: Nichola Richards
Exposure: Online, Facebook

6 RENAULT
Project: Clio "va va voom"
Client: Phil York, marketing director, Renault UK
Brief: Celebrate Clio's eternal "va va voomness"
Agency: Publicis London
Writer: Lauren Bensted
Art director: Poppy Willcox
Director: Dark Fibre
Production company: Stink
Exposure: TV

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