The last time I did Private View was about ten years ago. Christ, what did I do that was so bad?
So many things have changed since then: I got fatter, I kicked my coke habit and I had a hair transplant. Advertising is different now too: no time, no money but millions more opportunities.
So with that in mind I thought these American Airlines (3) ads look brilliant.
I love the typography, the unconventional headline breaks and the pictures: they kind of remind me of ads from the 60s. Unfortunately that's the problem, they just look great. The copy gets interesting but by then it's all too late. There is something missing. A tone, edge and urgency. I think people in adland will like them. Real people? I'm not sure.
This Maynards (4) ad was a great chance to create something with the same noise and success that Tango achieved a few years ago. It's well-written, and well-produced. But it's just an ad. Will people talk about it? I don't think so, but that probably wasn't the intention. I can't help thinking that the work for such a well-established brand would have been much better if the brief was to create volume and fame, not just an ad.
The ads for Transport for London (5) were my least favourite. They're simple: 25 per cent off the zoo with a Travelcard. A bit of creativity would have been nice. The device of using a massive logo as the idea probably seemed like a good idea at the time, and gave the client a nice, tingly feeling. It just feels a bit dull. They will work the way dog food ads do, but they could work so much better.
Volkswagen has a great heritage in ads going back years, and these VW Touareg (6) ads don't get much simpler, they will probably work well enough too. But, and there is a but, VW used to have a very distinctive tone of voice. There used to be character, a bit of edge. What happened? These ads feel like they could be for BMW or Volvo. Also, let's be honest, how many people really buy cars like Touaregs and go off-road with them? Aren't they for posh mums on the school run in N5?
Viral is an interesting medium. So were these virals for Vonage (2).
The ads are fun - and well done to the production company for getting so much out of what was probably a small budget. After the laughter, I had a problem: I had absolutely no idea what they were for. This is where viral is dangerous: it plays by different rules to advertising, but it still needs to communicate some information.
The final ad for the NSPCC (1) was the best of the bunch. It's a potent idea that speaking out can help stop abuse. The animation is fantastic, and the script is not over the top. The idea of speech bubbles protecting children might still be a bit subtle for the audience, but the concept is strong and makes for uncomfortable viewing. See you all in ten years.
AGENCY CEO - David Jones, chief executive, Euro RSCG Worldwide
One of the problems with having an international job is the amount of travel that takes you away from your family. So, I'm in my Tribeca apartment with my two-year-old son, Alphonse, who seems determined to help me with this Private View. Being a big fan of cars, he reaches immediately for the VW Touareg (6) work. This campaign is professionally put together, pleasantly art-directed and overall a highly competent job. But the ads do feel like you've seen them before and the majority of executions show the car from its ugliest side. The fish is the pick of the bunch.
When I'm not at home, Alphonse points at any plane going by and says "daddy", confident in the knowledge that I'm inside it. The American Airlines (3) work is targeted directly at me. When you have BA and Virgin delivering at the level they are, you need some pretty powerful reasons why someone would even entertain the idea of flying with AA. In the absence of any interesting or relevant product news, the team did well to come up with an insight in the Harvard ad that will resonate with the high-flying business exec, but there's absolutely no reason from the copy (nor, might I add, from actually flying on the planes) to believe they deliver on it. The old "We go to lots of places" execution has been used before in this category and has never really struck me as a message that's going to deliver volume for an airline. And having spent considerable time inside their planes, I'm not sure they really do "know why I fly", as it's certainly not to be force-fed hot fudge sundaes by rude cabin staff.
From planes to trains. The Transport for London (5) campaign sets off to deliver a simple and powerful visual device. The message comes across very clearly, but something about the art direction doesn't quite work and you end up with a poor imitation of the great Tube campaign from ten years ago. There are a few too many "ON" plays going on, too.
The Vonage (2) team gets ten out of ten for effort, trying to do something fresh and original and the only work in this selection that is really tied in to how people really use and engage with media today. That said, the executions don't quite do it, failing the golden rule of comedy - they aren't that funny.
Alphonse's favourite campaign is the Maynards (4) work with the troll.
He insists I play it again and again. I'm not quite sure about the Mad Yarns/Maynards pun, but given that the acid test is sales, it's likely to deliver well on the pester power.
Finally, my pick of the bunch is the NSPCC (1) work. The speech-bubble device is memorable and distinctive and extremely campaignable. A very simple message, clearly and powerfully communicated that urges you to speak out. And given the young man sitting next to me, one I feel very strongly about.
1. NSPCC Project: Talk 'til it stops Client: John Grounds, director of communications, NSPCC Brief: n/s Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Writer: Joel Bradley Art director: Graham Lang Directors: Adam Foulkes, Alan Smith Production company: Nexus Exposure: National TV 2. VONAGE Project: Exorcism, healer, sleep, promotional film Client: Vincent Potier, marketing director, Vonage Brief: Introduce the concept of Vonagelism Agency: Meme Digital Writers: Anson Harris, Jonny Porthouse Art directors: Andy Lee, Matt Gee Director: Ben Gregor Production company: Godman Exposure: Viral 3. AMERICAN AIRLINES Project: Brand campaign Client: David Hardy, European marketing manager Brief: Develop a campaign to raise awareness of the brand and product, and increase consideration and intent to purchase. Create a brand personality and tone of voice Agency: McCann Erickson Writers: Robert Campbell, Dean Webb Art director: Mark Reddy Photographer: Nick Meek Exposure: National press 4. MAYNARDS Project: Mad yarns from Maynards Client: Matthew Rathbone, brand manager, Maynards, Cadbury Trebor Bassett Brief: Build a relationship for Maynards with consumers at a masterbrand level Agency: Publicis Writer: Andy Jones Art directors: Scott Sparks, Keith Courtney Director: Harald Zwart Production company: Upstart Films Exposure: National TV 5. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON Project: Everyone's London Client: Nigel Marson, head of group marketing communications, Transport for London Brief: Boost London's Tube and bus travel Agencies: Chemistry Communciations, M&C Saatchi Writer: Simon Gaffney Art director: Seb Hill Exposure: Outdoor, leaflets, online 6. VOLKSWAGEN TOUAREG Project: Capability campaign Client: Heidi Cartlidge, communications manager, Volkswagen Brief: Position the Touareg as an on-road car with genuine off-road credentials Agency: DDB London Writer: Matt Lee Art director: Peter Heyes Photographer: Giles Revell Exposure: UK poster sites