In 1973, the Tetley Tea Folk were created by the late John McGill at McCann Erickson.
First at McCann, then at Masius, nearly 70 commercials were produced.
"Gaffer" and his team never picked up any Pencils. But they certainly rate as one of the finest and most famous British advertising campaigns ever.
Then, in 2001, disaster struck. A thrusting young executive at Tetley issued the following press release: "As part of an overall review of the marketing of the Tetley Tea brand in the UK, we are re-examining our advertising agency arrangements. We cannot speculate on what changes this may lead to, and cannot say at this stage how it might affect the use of the Tea Folk in the future."
Shortly afterwards, under the cover of darkness, Tetley led the Tea Folk out into the backyard and unceremoniously shot Gaffer, Sydney, Maurice and friends in the head. An advertising atrocity.
But the story has a happy ending. In 2010, Tetley came to its senses. And so it brought the Tea Folk back from the grave. (Easily done if you're just a piece of animation.)
And so, today, we witness the third commercial in the "second coming" of the Tea Folk.
It's OK. Not as good as some of the original commercials, but charming enough. I salute the Tetley (4) Tea Folk.
And it's great to see that cutting-edge digital agencies can now write TV commercials almost as well as McCann and Masius did in the 70s. Progress indeed.
I remember I cried when I first saw "Perfect Day" for the BBC. It was so powerful. So beautiful.
This ad for BBC Radio 6 (5) has many of the same ingredients as "Perfect Day" (free celebrities) but little of the same effect. The best thing about Jarvis Cocker is hearing him speak. Give the boy some dialogue!
KFC (2) embraces David Cameron's Big Society with an ad that shows a community gathering chairs together to eat. The soundtrack, which is fabulous, is by Paloma Faith. Implausible though this coming together over a bucket of deep-fried chicken bits is, somehow it hits the spot. Neighbour-lickin' good.
Heineken (6). This commercial "premiered" on Facebook some time ago. It's all about how to make the ultimate "entrance" at a party. That's assuming you want to make the ultimate "entrance" at a party. I'm not convinced your average Heineken drinker does.
Indeed, I think they may want to punch the guy in this ad in the face for being a bit of a dickhead.
Should you wish, you can discover more about the characters in the Heineken commercial by exploring their page on Facebook. More usefully, you could get involved in this Facebook campaign for the health development charity Amref (1). I hope you do.
And, finally, this ad for Winalot (3).
The script is blindingly simple and outstandingly branded: "For dogs that bark a lot, eat a lot, fart a lot, Winalot."
The ad is beautifully shot using, I believe, real dog owners and their dogs. It is quirky, stylish, iconic and brimming over with "dog love". A most important ingredient in any good dog food ad.
It's not often I see an ad that I really wish I'd done, but this is one of them. It works for me. If I had a dog, I'd buy them Winalot. In fact, I may just buy some anyway. Woof. Woof. Woof.
PLANNER - Dylan Williams, partner, Mother
I'm enjoying our industry's rededication to the functional benefit. It's as if we've all read the back cover of Baked In, tooled up with soldering irons, learnt C++ and started working with the Arduino chip. And a good thing too. The last decade had become a bit too reliant on the emotional selling proposition. Time to help build tangible differences back into brands. Time to design our communications as useful products in their own right. Yeah!
So, is any of this artisanal verve evident here?
First up is BBC Radio 6 (5). The TV spot is nice enough. We love a metaphor at Mother and here we get a big house made out of speakers. But it's the other stuff that I think is smart. Fallon has effectively used the campaign to extend a digital service into desirable products. First, a collection of specially commissioned downloadable remixes (good use of Funkadelic's One Nation Under A Groove) And, better still, vinyl presses and accompanying artwork that I can pick up from my local record store. I like.
Amref (1) "status of Africa" is another example. Bartle Bogle Hegarty has built an app that enables people to donate their Facebook status and Twitter account to Africans in order to raise awareness of various issues. This year, they centred on Mother's Day and the difficulties faced by African mums. Twice a day over five days, we were able to find out more through the personal stories of real mothers and midwives (I was particularly taken by the matchbox fact). It's great. A platform where people can help give voice to mums in need. Compare this to Procter & Gamble's "sponsorship of mums" over the same period.
I can't be quite so effusive about this KFC (2) spot. Though I really enjoyed the film. Polished documentary style, lovely track. Its chicken wings as social lubricant. With a side of sexual tension. A proper BBH ad. My niggle is the line: "So good." Sure, the locus of the strategy is on the combination of "people, moment and taste". But the deft footwork of engagement planning doesn't disguise the fact that there'll now be a load of print, devoid of people or occasion, that associates a Bargain Bucket with the concept of Good. Pushing it a bit, that. Even after a few glasses of Progress and Happiness.
Not much being built around this Heineken (6) campaign divides opinion here. But we all agree there's not much construction work beyond the digital amplification of the TV. So no blowtorches were used in the production. I wish they had been, personally. On the lead fella in the ad just as he makes his "ultimate party entrance". That's the thing about using digital to promote and enrich vehicular advertising. It works when the vehicle is funny. Like Old Spice Guy. But surely not when it's someone as annoying as this posh-boy hipster tit.
Now I feel childish. Like the audience Tetley (4) is targeting with its new Redbush variant. I know this because as the Tea Folk traverse Africa, their guide speaks to me as if I'm five years old ("Like normal tea, you can add milk and shoo-gah!"). I'm also witness to a panoply of Disney-like cliches. A scary lion, a hypnotic snake and a cuddly elephant all make an appearance as the music "Wimowehs" along. Who said consumer culture is infantilising the adult population? This is early recruitment of tomorrow's tea drinkers. Clever.
And, finally, Winalot's (3) ode to family dogs. Where every line finishes with "a lot". Slice of life scenes with the obligatory council estate shot. But without the Staffie-that-bites-kids-a-lot. Personally, I'd have focused on the product info that's been squeezed into the last two seconds: "Iron for vitality and protein for muscles." I reckon something more substantial could have been made around this.
Anyway, overall, I see much to further my optimism. Less vacuous emotional hyperbole. More tangibility. More usefulness.
I'm off back to the shed.
Project: Status of Africa
Clients: Victoria Rugg, communications manager; Shivonne Graham,
director of fundraising and communications, Amref
Brief: Raise awareness and drive support for Amref
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creatives: Kimberley Gill, Mareka Carter
Production company: FEED
Project: Emergency chairs
Client: Jennelle Tilling, vice-president, marketing, KFC UK
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creatives: Harry Orton, Robin Warman
Director: Benito Montorio
Production company: Blink
Project: What a lot
Client: Ingrid Hayes, senior brand manager, Nestle Purina
Brief: Winalot. For family dogs
Agency: DDB UK
Writers/art directors: Jonathan John, David Mackersey
Director: Paul Gay
Production company: Hungry Man
Project: Tetley Redbush
Client: Allen Hunt, senior brand manager, Tetley
Brief: Drive awareness of the benefits of Tetley Redbush and encourage
consumers to try it out
Writer: Richard Stoney
Art director: Dave Hobbs
Director: Stuart Douglas
Production company: Nice Shirt
Exposure: TV, press, poster, online
5. BBC 6 Music
Project: Building 6 Music
Client: Claire Jullien, marketing head, BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music
Brief: Raise awareness of BBC Radio 6 Music by focusing on the DJs and
the broad eclectic range of music they play
Writer/art director: Emily Cussins
Director: Dom Bridges (Mustard)
Production company: Red Bee Media
Exposure: TV, online
Project: The entrance
Clients: Cyril Charzat, global brand director; Sandrine Huijgen, global
communications manager, Heineken
Brief: Recognise the legend in all Heineken drinkers
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Writers: Roger Hoard, Carlo Cavallone
Art director: Alvaro Sotomayor
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production company: Sonny London
Exposure: Online, TV