Integration is an interesting word.
Time was it meant "to bring all parts together, to make whole". These days, it's more likely to mean "get your digital ideas out for the lads".
In fact, integration's success depends on the strength of the golden thread. The golden thread holds the ideas from all the different media together. Spun by strong strategic thinkers with a common creative vision, it may take many forms, but it never falls apart. And what keeps the thread strong? Craft skills, craft skills and more craft skills.
If I have a worry, it's that we get to be so busy chasing the next opportunity in the new media, that skills like writing and art direction will be trampled underfoot. It'll be like amateur football. (Damn, I promised myself I wouldn't fall into the football analogy trap.)
With this in mind, let's see what pops out of the bag this week.
OK, I've been sent four TV ads, a print campaign and a viral. So, while the craft will be perfectly self-evident, we may have to guess at each one's integration abilities.
Let's take a look at the print first. Nike (6). Strong dynamic visual imagery. Simple (if faint) copy. There are few words, but then the types who hurl themselves off crevasses for laughs are (wo)men of few words. "Awesome" and "dude" being most of them. And these are well chosen. Very striking ads with the feeling of integration woven into the (metal fibre) fabric. I trust they're making this into sculptures in ski resorts as we speak.
Next, a TV ad for alcohol harm reduction (2). Tricky subject matter, with the need to shock a lot of people tempered by the need to please a lot of others. It's well crafted, with the music and vibe capturing that giddy idiocy that possesses you after a quiet ten pints of vodka and Red Bull. Interesting too that our superhero appears to be paralysed rather than dead at the end. Not a cop-out, but a reflection that the young are more scared of ending up in a metal chair than a wooden box. On the integration front, you can see the superhero notion has legs, albeit fetchingly clad in lycra.
Let's turn to Baxters (4). It's a TV ad with someone sitting in a field telling me that Baxterzzzzzzz ... Sorry, nodded off there.
Next, Woolworths (5). Now this did wake me up, but I was sort of enjoying my kip. You don't get a lot of room to breathe in these jam-packed ads for Christmas. It's difficult to look your best from a starting point of woolly and worth. Yes, it is built on the name of the brand, but does feel a touch more woolly than worth it.
Now, the Vauxhall (1) online idea is fun. I've seen the posters and TV, so full marks for integration on this one. I've also seen the comments on YouTube that praise the production values, proving that even "Covboy70" and "SheSaidKill" (nomenclatures of the commentators) appreciate a bit of craft. The Mr Picky in me thinks it's a bit redolent of Monkey and Flat Eric, but still a jolly way of showing the standard car shots without Mr and Mrs Smug and family.
I'm a total sucker for the whole Christmas thing. Eleven months of hard-nosed cynicism turns to mush when December comes around. I just love what Mother has done with Boots' (3) "tis the season to be gorgeous". The photography and imagery is spot-on. Is that golden thread being spun out all over the shop? I do hope so, because the more we see of work like this the better.
Wishing all a merry Christmas. Braze.
GRAFFITI ARTIST - Smallkid, graffiti artist
Right then, let's see what we've got ...
The first is a TV ad for alcohol harm reduction (2). It's loud and attention-grabbing. A group of girls on a hen-night lark around outside a club. A bloke comes to save the day, but his antics result in a drunken accident. I can relate to this. We've all been drunk and tried to show off - or I have, anyway. Many times. This starts with fun, drunken revelry; it draws you in, but quickly turns nasty. It sits alongside smoking and driving ads, and uses persuasive shock tactics to demonstrate the consequences of binge-drinking.
My rating: a hard-hitting 8/10, let down only by the man who attempted to save the day; he looked like a poor superhero, not much better than your average man in pants and tights.
The next is a Nike (6) print campaign. A slick piece of design, showing the motion of snowboarders and skiers. Great use of space and delicious visuals, although it took me a while to work out what it was selling. Has Nike started making snowboards and skis? After closer inspection, it appears to be advertising ski clothing. Possibly a good brand awareness piece, but the unclear product message left me feeling cold. I wonder what this would look like alongside ads with more colour - possibly a bit drab.
My rating: visually 9/10, message not so sure - 4/10.
A Boots (3) TV Christmas campaign went over my head. A visually stunning ad shows beautiful women doing Christmas chores like sticking their hands inside turkeys and peeling sprouts while looking super-glamorous and applying make-up.
Who is this for? To show men what they should buy a woman for Christmas? This hasn't worked, as I can't remember any of the products. The ad moves too fast and the product names aren't clear. Men need things spelt out in big, bold letters with arrows and diagrams. Maybe it's aimed at women who want to treat themselves at Christmas? Tell me I'm wrong, but that's what the sales are for. If it's for women buying for other women, then it might have some appeal.
My rating: nice to watch and looks good. Not sure if it's selling sprouts or hair tongs. Not grabbing me - 5/10.
Another Christmas ad, this time for Woolworths (5) ... ah, consume, consume, consume! I don't buy in to massive Christmas trees and ten million lights. But saying this, it's clear about what it offers and what its big products are. It also makes you more than aware of the shop name. This promotion will irritate and annoy audiences after a few viewings. In that respect, it will probably be successful.
My rating: a successful Christmas overload - 8/10, but on the merit of being a good ad to watch - 4/10.
Next up is a TV campaign for Baxters (4) soups. For some reason, I really like this. I'm not overly sure why - maybe it's because it has the feel of being fresh and organic. The camera shots are great, it doesn't go on and on, and it makes me want to eat soup in a big field full of peppers.
My rating: a hearty, healthy ad - 9/10.
The next ad is a viral showing a little fabric animal running around, then peeing into a urinal. This is quite funny, but my initial thought is "what is this for?". I understand it has made its way on to YouTube in the hope that people will send it around, interact with it and then link it to the Vauxhall (1) Corsa ads they see on TV.
I doubt there are many chatrooms discussing the puppets in the Woolworths ad, but there are on these things, plus websites, downloads, stickers - the whole lot ... although not much reference to them being linked with the Corsa. Will it be like that ad featuring Johnny Vegas and the monkey, where you want the free toy more than the product?
My rating: my parents had a Corsa and I hated it. I would rather have one of those stitched freaks, but that's my opinion. I like the concept behind the ad, although it might go over some people's heads - 7/10.
Project: Blue pee viral
Clients: Olivier Danan, brand communications director; Loredana Alicino,
brand communications manager; Vijay Iyer, project communication manager,
Brief: Introduce people to the C'mons characters and drive them to the
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Writers: Paula Marcontonio, Jon Elsom
Art director: Keith Terry
2. ALCOHOL HARM REDUCTION
Project: Know your limits
Clients: Cerys Adams, head of marketing and strategic communications,
Home Office; Fiona Samson, head of campaigns, DoH
Brief: Discourage drinking among young people by highlighting their
vulnerability when drunk
Agency: United London
Writer: Jon Lilley
Art director: Andy Bunday
Production company: Another Film Company
Exposure: National TV, cinema
Project: 'Tis the season to be gorgeous
Client: Andy Brent, marketing director, Boots
Brief: Make Boots the high-street destination store for beauty gifts
Art director: Mother
Director: David LaChapelle
Production company: HSI London
Exposure: National TV
Client: Andrew Field, marketing director, Baxters
Brief: Build on Baxters' reputation of producing delicious soups,
founded on top quality, healthy ingredients and inspiring recipes
Agency: The Union
Writer: Michael Hart
Art director: Ben Craig
Director: Steve Rideout
Production company: RSA Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Woolworths Christmas 2006
Client: Stephen Robertson, head of brand communications, Woolworths
Brief: There's more Christmas at Woolworths
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Graham Lakeland
Art director: Richard Robinson
Director: Steve Cope
Production company: Red Bee Media
Client: Paolo Tubito, brand communications director, Nike EMEA
Brief: Promote Nike ACG's autumn and holiday 2006 clothing line
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Writer: Oliver Frank
Art director: Paulo Martins
Exposure: European posters