In advertising we have an obsession with originality. As an elderly creative director, I find myself saying "that was done by x in 1987" at least five times a day. But the truth is, to a new audience, that doesn't matter, only our pride and desire to gain a gong or two drives it. For me, originality is important, but greater than that is the ability to tell a brand story in a new, compelling and engaging way.
The Boddingtons Extra Cold (2) print is, as you'd expect from Boddingtons, a very simple and elegant graphic execution which, if it hadn't been for Guinness doing something very similar-looking, would feel much fresher than it does, though it was probably Guinness that referenced Boddingtons in the first place. With my punter's (p) hat on, nice job, get it, cuts through the clutter. With the ol' creative director's (ocd) hat on, seen it before.
The Peugeot (5) sponsorship idents feature toy cars recreating big film moments. Nothing wrong with it, quite clever and relevant (p) but familiar territory done by, at best, Volkswagen (ocd).
Boots (1). An empathetic tone of voice that continues the trusted by the nation position. Nicely observed little insights. Makes you feel good (p). Hard-working retail ads are not traditionally a very creative space to be in, though those boys now at The Red Brick Road have gone and proved otherwise. Boots has a long way to go before it comes close to Tesco (ocd).
The More Th>n (3) TV campaign shows the pleasure people get from getting their new old stuff, which has been lost, presumably through theft or accident, back. It is very gentle and handles the emotion of a tricky subject well. It is, however, a campaign that requires repeat viewing.
The first ad shows different people enjoying very normal, everyday things around their home and is accompanied by titles that read: "Normal is great." "That's why we do more to get it back." "Get more and save more." "More Th>n. We do more." The problem here is that it presumes that we know that they are talking about insurance, and if we don't get that then the response is likely to be: What the ... was that all about? (p) The subsequent spots are, for me, clearer as they talk about benefits of their insurance policies, so you get it and can sit back and enjoy the quiet moments of personal enjoyment when your stuff is replaced. I particularly like the car one, where we watch a bloke carefully replacing all his bits of car crap, right down to the half-drunk bottle of Tango on the front dash. A clever idea that lacks clarity in its storytelling (ocd).
The 118 118 (6) digital ad is brilliant. This is what happens when you reap the benefits of having created a valuable property. You can have fun with it. This viral does what a good viral should do. It gets passed around. For those of you who haven't seen it, it features the two 118 118 characters doing a spoof of the brilliant Honda Civic ad. Is it original?
No, but it is a great demonstration of a brand telling its story in its own way, that delights its audience. Laugh-out-loud funny (p). Laugh-out-loud funny (ocd).
The PlayStation2 (4) direct piece for the launch of 24: The Game is great. It does what direct should do, it feels special. Personal, it's intriguing and playful. It comes as a fake cigar box, which has already been tampered with. Inside you find it has been used to collect all sorts of different clues: telephone numbers on matchboxes, bits of diary, photos of "Jack", cards. When you have rummaged through that lot, you come to a fake bottom which you lift to be met with more stuff that congratulates you on your ingenuity for getting thus far ... and, finally, a sample of the game. I must rush out and buy one (p). I must rush out and buy one (ocd).
CREATIVE - Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman and executive creative director, OgilvyOne
Call me Mr Obvious, but when a brand that has made itself famous for "cream" launches an "iced" version, a simple creative approach suggests itself. Now I'm all for going beyond the first idea, but casually to cast aside a brand property like this seems reckless, particularly when it is the suggestion of creaminess that might make the notion of an extra-cold ale seem more palatable. I'm sure there is a reason for this change of tack for Boddingtons Extra Cold (2); I just hope it's a better reason than "new marketing director", that's all.
Happily as one idea dies another is born. Here we have the genesis of a splendid big idea for More Th>n (3) in the celebration of normality.
I love this approach, where people are seen going about the pleasant task of restoring the status quo - removing wrapping from the seats of a replacement car, restoring favourite stickers to the windows and so on. Interestingly, I am not sure this would have chimed with me five years ago, but at 40 I find myself pooterishly keen on maintaining normality - with whole weekends spent topping up the salt in the dishwasher, replacing light-bulbs and nodding approvingly at Daily Mail editorials. Perhaps the message resonates with the very audience an insurer would like to attract; it's certainly one way to promote the positive side of a negative category. Keen students of financial services strategy will notice that you have here Ogilvy's Bupa idea ("You're amazing") translated from health insurance to contents and motor insurance. That's fine. While strategic ideas need to be arresting, distinctive, single-minded and so on, they do not actually need to be original - it is the creative's job to make them look so. That's why great creatives are paid a teeny bit more than great planners - or were.
One plea to the More Th>n folks: when you have a great idea like this, persevere with it, and drive it into those other brand touchpoints where you deliver the promise made in your advertising: call centres, mailings, the claim-forms and so on. Big ideas are only big if they can also work small.
That's what has made such a success of 118 118 (6 ). This viral parody of "choir" is fabulously well done, and I am in awe of the people who conceived this campaign and especially those who bought it. When you are setting out to create an advertising meme, an idea that will become disseminated voluntarily from consumer to consumer rather than via bought media, you face a steep obstacle in that the very irrationality or outrageousness that makes ordinary people keen to forward a communication is precisely what makes it hard for clients to buy, research or sell it on up to their paymasters. Someone here took a big bet and won.
Also to be commended is Peugeot (5), for producing a series of idents that reward repeat viewing (Herbal Essences take note) and Boots (1), for at least trying to add some brand qualities to a price-cut spot, though I have a massive quibble with the "trust Boots" endline. It's not just that it does little to clarify what Boots is about - I have a problem with lines which can convey a wholly different meaning depending on the tone of voice in which you pronounce them - particularly fatal in print.
I also enjoyed the mailing for the PlayStation2 (4) 24 game featuring cousin Kiefer (it is a striking resemblance, no?) and, yes, I found the secret compartment and enjoyed rifling through Elisha Cuthbert's inbox (stop sniggering at the back there). You could criticise this for being a little complex for our time-pressured world, but then if you were really time-starved, you would hardly be into gaming, would you?
Brief: Raise awareness of Boots' 1,000 price cuts
Art director: Mother
Director: Russ Lamoureaux
Production company: Independent
Exposure: National TV
2. BODDINGTONS EXTRA COLD
Project: Icicle, mountain, snowflake
Client: John Sampson, marketing manager, InBev UK
Brief: Launch Boddingtons Extra Cold
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Matt Waller, Dave Monk, Chris Felstead, Gary
Exposure: National press
3. MORE TH>N
Project: We do more
Client: Neil Scaife, head of marketing communications, More Th>n
Brief: Put the more back into More Th>n
Writers: Matt Keon, Micah Walker
Art directors: Matt Keon, Micah Walker
Director: Stacy Wall
Production company: Epoch
Exposure: National TV
Project: 24: The Game launch
Client: Adam Boita, product manager, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Brief: Give a select group of consumers the ultimate 24 experience by
putting them in the centre of the action and seeing if they have what it
takes to be like Jack Bauer
Agency: 20:20 London
Writers/art directors: Peter Riley, Dean Woodhouse, Hugo Bierschenck
Exposure: Direct mail, e-mail, SMS
Project: Sponsorship of five movies
Client: Dean Drew, advertising director, Peugeot Motor Company
Brief: Communicate the dynamic driving experience associated with
Peugeot, through the connection with movies
Agency: Euro RSCG London
Writers/art directors: Matthew Anderson, Steve Nicholls
Director: Jon Richie
Production company: Therapy Films
6. THE NUMBER 118 118
Project: 118 118 team viral
Clients: Alex Lewis, marketing director; Catherine Boyd, marketing
manager, The Number
Brief: Create a viral that gets the 118 118 boys seen, talked about and
passed around on the web
Writer/art director: Anson Harris
Director: Nick Jones
Production company: Rogue