These days, ads need to be more than just nicely art directed, well-shot ideas. They need to have a big, bold concept right at the heart of them that will grab you by the brain and engage you - and, more importantly, engage you for the long term, not just for the duration of the ad break. TV ads alone are not enough and comms need to be deeper, broader and last longer.
We play safe all too often with the work that we produce in this industry at the moment. There are too many clients who want "Absolute Safety Guaranteed" and too many agencies that are satisfied producing work that is "Just Good Enough" - a terrible combination. What happened to creative and strategic ambition, and the cultural and sales impact that they both bring? Instead of just answering the brief, how can we inspire our clients to greater ambitions? Unlocking ambitions both client-side and agency-side always lead to bolder, more interesting and, I believe, more effective work.
Tate Britain (3). I love the Tates. They are fascinating, inspirational and fantastically special. Sadly, these posters are a bit dull. There has to be a more engaging way to get people to go to the Tate and enjoy the historic spectrum of great British art than just sticking an old painting next to a similar/relevant, more modern work of art. The visual idea is a little plonky and, as a result, the line "This is Britain" doesn't really mean anything and leaves me wanting more. It answers the brief, but lacks any sparkle. It could and should have been brilliant.
Elle (2). This ad doesn't really have an idea, but it has plenty of style. There are lots of beautiful female celebs, it's nicely edited and it's got a great track - but, again, it's feelgood and very functional but doesn't really carry any sparkle or personality. The magazine is great, the work should be better than "Good Enough".
The BT (5) couple are the new Gold Blend couple, but while the Gold Blend couple took forever to get off with each other, the BT lady is pregnant and she's not even married yet! In this ad, Jane is planning her wedding and halfway through the commercial, her waters break and she runs off camera to give birth. We are then invited to go to Facebook where we can help her plan her wedding, while she goes off and worries about squeezing out a baby. Before this ad, apparently more than two million people voted online for her to have a baby. I think it's great to see a brand engaging so well culturally.
The Christian Aid (1) press ad illustrates the complex issues that lead to a child getting sick. It's beautifully art directed but demands a lot from the reader. I wonder if a simple, bolder message would have been more arresting.
Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles (4) has brought back the 70s idea of people not being able to resist chewing. In this idea, a fella coming out of a corner shop is confronted by a troupe of mediaeval chaps with trumpets searching for a man who can plop a Fruit Pastille in his gob and not chew it to be worthy of an audience with a lady in a big, gold horse-drawn carriage. He tries but fails. I think if the woman was beautiful instead of plain, he would have resisted, no matter what. Joking aside, I think it could have been funnier, maybe a bit more ridiculous, but let's see how the campaign develops.
Finally, an online gig trailer for O2 (6) and Tinie Tempah. We watch as Mr Tempah is driven through London, passing landmarks referencing his past (his childhood, winning the Brits etc). Finally, we end up at The O2 and he goes on stage to perform. A simple idea, but it's let down by what looks like a tiny budget, which is a shame. Again, it does the job, but falls short at the end. It could and should have been much more interesting.
CREATIVE - Tony Dell, head of visual inspiration, DLKW Lowe
The thought of chewing a Rowntree's Fruit Pastille (4) makes my mouth water but, visually, this commercial has no such effect on me. But then I suppose it is not directed at me but to young people who apparently have very good teeth. I would have thought a simple savouring of the taste and texture of the sweet would have been more persuasive. I imagine JWT has done its research to prove me wrong. But thank you for reminding me of what I have missed for years.
I would think that the Elle (2) commercial has all the ingredients to attract the feminine reader. The ubiquitous Cheryl Cole and Keira Knightley feature and promise culture, inspiration and everything that is likely to appeal to the modern young woman. There seems to be an insatiable appetite for fashion and make-up news, which I am sure this publication will satisfy.
The Christian Aid (1) press and online executions didn't disturb my conscience as much as inform me of the progress made to banish poverty - I was enlightened rather than ashamed. I take issue slightly with the printing of white type on yellow, but I have a thing about that. There is a tendency to minimise the size and visibility of type as if it intrudes on the perfection of the image. I know that many art directors fear the client's logo spoils the ad but put it in, lads, and make 'em happy.
The clever BT (5) commercial persuades you to go to Facebook to "help" Jane with a choice of wedding dress, car and first dance. Certainly, I enjoyed the pursuit and, in due course, expect to receive mailings as a consequence, which is the whole idea, of course, and a very clever one. I found it fun. I can see that there is an inducement to complete the quiz with the possible reward of being chosen to attend the shooting of the wedding scene in the film studio. But it is a random chance, so good luck!
I'm not quite sure how you persuade people to go to museums who don't already do so. Presumably, Tate Britain (3) seeks patrons but does the prospect of seeing old paintings really attract people? If this campaign brings more people into the gallery only to appreciate the Pre-Raphaelites and Turner, it will have been worthwhile.
I've only just caught up with rap and now I understand there is grime and a person who excels in delivering this new musical phenomenon, a man - or should I say "guy"? - called Tinie Tempah.
Drum and O2 (6) have combined to make a very expensive commercial for Tinie's appearance at The O2, and very good it is too. Now, I'm not such a cool kid these days but I have to say the commercial made my hips move. I mean, I felt good when I heard it so this commercial must be working and it is a very infectious film indeed.
I had not thought about Tinie Tempah until this and I am sorry I've missed out on his gigs, but there you go. Bill Haley will have to take a back seat from now on!
I was given a varied choice of films to see, which made the reviewing easier.
None of them is exceptional and none of them has that magical word "impact". Some are more interesting than others and the BT the more entertaining. I enjoyed the O2 commercial but I think it might have been unnecessarily extravagant since I imagine devoted fans and friends will always go to see Tinie and the uncommitted will be unattracted. The clearest ad was for Christian Aid and I wish I could have felt more involved, but it was more intellectual than emotional and I need to be moved.
In this time of recession, I hope all the ads make their sponsors prosper.
1. CHRISTIAN AID
Project: Poverty Over
Client: Tom Barratt, Christian Aid
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writers: Simon Bere, Peter Reid, Joe Bruce, Sheridan Lord
Art directors: Carl Broadhurst, Kate Baker, Miles Stubbs
Illustrator: James Joyce (print)
Production company: Weir and Wong (web)
Exposure: Press, online
Project: Fashion. Wear it your way
Clients: Reid Holland, Mel Hutchinson, Elle, Hachette Filipacchi
Brief: Drive brand reinforcement and long-term engagement
Writer/art director: Dave Dye
Production company: DHM
Exposure: TV, outdoor, online
3. TATE BRITAIN
Project: Tate Britain
Client: Tate Britain
Writer: Selena McKenzie
Art director: Toby Moore
4. ROWNTREE'S FRUIT PASTILLES
Client: Louise Barrett, brand manager, Nestle
Brief: Engage a new generation in Fruit Pastilles
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Mark Campion
Art director: Adam Collins
Director: Mike Maguire
Production company: Independent Films
Project: The wedding vote campaign
Client: David James, marketing director, BT
Brief: Get the public talking with the second-biggest wedding of the
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Phill Martin
Art director: Brian Campbell
Director: Declan Lowney
Production company: HSI London
Exposure: TV, Facebook
Client: Nuala Donnelly, sponsorship manager, The O2
Art director: n/s
Production companies: Drum, ChannelFlip