With "opt-in media" and the rather horrid "advertainment" being the buzzwords of the day, we creative johnnies must think we're off to the races. Audiences have so many ways to avoid ads, the marketing community has no option but to demand work that is more surprising, more inventive and more engaging. The enduring fact that audiences must be cajoled and lured into receiving our messages has never been truer and, in the case of many mobile and online ads, we even expect the audience to distribute them on our behalf. That's a very big ask. So surely this opt-in media era will usher in a new, golden age of creativity. The bulk of this week's batch suggests otherwise.
The Nokia (3) virals. A great premise and great product demo story marred by dull writing. The ads are shot on the phone, it claims, for real. A great start - but the stories are fake "you've been framed" moments and the pay-off can be seen coming from a mile off. Only someone who values friendship lightly will pass these on to their mates.
The Psychologies (6) posters. A sampler of this new magazine was stuffed into my hand at Euston this morning. It's an intriguing new title with pieces by Alain de Botton, Oliver James and Julian Bagini - the poster boys of The Guardian-reading self-improvers. Unfortunately, the poster headlines lack any real bite or depth and the art direction is flat. If the packshot occupied the whole display area, it would have told us more and looked more interesting.
The new Morrisons (2) campaign drives the store upmarket, with quality food messages. It's light years ahead of the last material I noticed from the store and I bet Morrisons can be a tough customer, but I still can't see myself hitting the red button.
The Epson (4) cross-track. Here, iconic photographs are described in words because only a print from an Epson can do them full justice. The descriptions in the frames are beautifully vivid and this idea would have come off really well had the copyline not blithered on and fizzled out at the end.
3 (1). A secret society of Japanese housewives meet to cradle musical marital aids. Superbly photographed, highly enjoyable and utter twaddle.
I adored the "Eric" jellyfish spot: it was so oblique, bizarre and enigmatic and I couldn't wait to see what was next. Next, of course, was more oblique, bizarre and enigmatic stuff and, for me at least, it's beginning to wear thin.
Finally, the new Home Choice (5) campaign. It's a peach. Wonderfully cynical. I've watched it over and over again and played it to people in the office. I guess you could call that opting in and I bet you'll opt in too.
CREATIVE - Neil French, worldwide creative director, WPP
This is depressing. Is the regular output REALLY this bad, or are the jokesters at Campaign pulling me plonker? Anyway, knife sharpened and in we go ... Morrisons (2). "We've got lots of stuff and a really ugly logo which we've tried to hide out of sheer embarrassment." Indefensible, to be honest. What are these people doing? Have they no pride? Or do we detect the hand of the client in here? Client chairman's wife, maybe? It must be a massive-spending account for any agency to put up with having to perpetrate this lot. And that's the best it can say about its stores, is it? I trust Morrisons is breathtakingly cheap, because otherwise Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco can relax.
One must assume that the intent is to convince the English yoof market that 3 (1) is ... I dunno ... reeeally weird, I suppose. In which case, it succeeds as well as all its other irrelevant attempts. Supposed to be ironic, is it? Ninja-fascist-thought-police are ironic? Japanese quasi-geishas are ironic? And yet, this is all about music downloads? I'm trying to imagine any teenager stopping whatever devilry he or she (or both) is up to, with the cry of "Hold on to yer kecks fer a bit! I love this one!" and failing utterly in that regard. Sorry.
So close to being alright, this Nokia (3) series. For a start, if the ads are to be believed, it's a brilliant product. All it had to do was demonstrate it. And presumably, that's how it started out. But then along came the "creative department" and it was downhill from there on. In the first place, a warning about writing comedy - it's not easy. The first rule of comedy is: "Be funny." These aren't. After that, the cock-ups come thick and fast. Badly directed, badly lit, the whole point of the thing (the supers telling you that the film was shot with a phone, for chrissakes) is an afterthought buried in typo-tricks, and the product shot sucks. If they'd just let the product do all the work, they'd have been OK. But no: they had to be "creative". Pity.
Psychologies (6). Horrible art direction, half-arsed headlines. A mag for the terminally self-obsessed female sponsors ugly wallpaper for the Tube. Next.
Anyway, to Home Choice (5). This pudding-faced no-mates wowser would rather be at home. Good. We would all prefer that, too. Goodbye and good riddance, yer pillock. If Home Choice is a refuge for hopeless, anti-social losers, I'm all for it as a method of improving the gene pool. Silly strategy, silly scripts, pointless product. Why bother?
The problem with the Epson (4) ad is that it has attempted the old and dangerous trick of trying to prove something by pointing out that it can't be proved. Thus: "A picture on an Epson printer would be worth a thousand words, except we can't prove that because a picture on an Epson printer actually looks like any other picture and we can't be arsed to write a thousand words, so here are some flabbily described but well-known images instead. In frames. 'Cos they're really supposed to be pictures, geddit?" Erm, no. NEXT!
1. 3 Project: Dirty music Client: Julian Hough, 3 Brief: Differentiate the 3 brand and build awareness of 3's music services Agency: WCRS Writers: Simon Robinson, Yann Jones Art directors: Simon Robinson, Yann Jones Director: Traktor Production company: Partizan Exposure: National TV, cinema 2. MORRISONS Project: Reasons Client: Michael Bates, marketing services director, Morrisons Brief: Launch Morrisons in the South of England Agency: BDH\TBWA Writer: Doug Laird Art director: Chris Lear Director: n/s Production company: n/s Exposure: South-East TV, press 3. NOKIA Project: Bar, gallery, restaurant, water-ski, wedding Client: Johan Eidhagen, senior marketing manager, multimedia, Nokia Brief: Demonstrate the Nokia N90's picture quality Agency: Farfar Writer: Henrik Berglof Art director: Jon Dranger Director: Robert Nylund Production company: Social Club Exposure: Online 4. EPSON Project: Epson photo printers Client: Jane Barnard, marketing communications manager, Epson UK Brief: Demonstrate the power of great images Agency: Burkitt DDB Writer: Phil Webb Art director: Tony Curran Photographer: David Lidbetter Exposure: London Underground cross-track 48-sheet posters 5. HOME CHOICE Project: Dolphin, ape, recital Client: Nick Cross, marketing director, Home Choice Brief: London launch of Home Choice Agency: Mother Writer: Mother Art director: Mother Director: Paul Goldman Production company: 2AM Films Exposure: London TV 6. PSYCHOLOGIES Project: Psychologies Client: Anna Jones, head of marketing, Hachette Filipacchi UK Brief: Develop a coherent, impactful launch campaign to explain Psychologies' unique editorial proposition in a positive and appealing way Agency: VCCP Writer: Nicola Jackson Art director: Cressida Eatson-Lloyd Exposure: National press, outdoor, point-of-sale, online, direct marketing