campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 13 February 2009 12:00AM
Open on a sunlit field of corn. A young girl strolls through the frame. She is naked. The camera lingers on her bottom before, almost reluctantly, panning up to reveal her toothless grin. The voiceover is trying to tell me about mouthwash, but I've got this cognitive dissonance thing going on and I can't make the connection. Message-wise, I am still at the arse-end of this piece of communication. Why is she naked? Are they trying to tell us that bottom cavities are one thing (usually) but dental cavities are easily avoidable with regular use of Corsodyl? And then it struck me. This might just be French. Partial or total nudity is practically compulsory in French advertising.
It was the French who started photographing their rugby players in the nude, and now, several years later, Powerade (5) has followed (birthday) suit. At first, you might surmise that this Robert Mapplethorpe "bullwhip-up-the-bum" school of photography might be aimed at the Pink Pack, as they're known in RFU circles. Perhaps it's another attempt to get more "knickers at Twickers"? For the benefit of that tiny minority of you who have not "enjoyed" a public school education, let me enlighten you. I think Powerade has cleverly tapped into that part of rugger culture that involves spending half your schooldays flicking wet towels at other naked adolescents in a ritual of suppressed homoerotic longing. "I say, that Paul Sackey can run a bit, good pair of hands too, what?" "Yes, Mungo, but have we seen his buttocks?" Thanks to Powerade, now we have. And jolly peachy they look too.
The Times (3) has chosen some lovely pictures for its confident brand campaign. I would worry, though, that getting people to stick or split with their daily newspaper might be a little trickier than this. Similarly, a windscreen de-icer and pocket-torch from those nice people at More Th>n (2) are unlikely to have me on the phone telling Direct Line where to shove its car policy. Now, more than ever, it is simply not enough to create advertising that makes people think things. We have to run stuff that makes people do things.
And that is very much the challenge taken on by the Change4Life (6) campaign. Morph and his family demonstrate that Man wasn't made for these times of leisure and plenty and that we all need to run around a lot more to avoid premature death. I'm sure Tony Hart, who died recently, would be proud to see his Plasticine creation put to such good use. Personally, the patronising "geezer" voiceover gets on my drooping tits.
Sponsored idents are the haiku of television advertising and consequently often unloved or misunderstood. The trick is to make these micro messages as intrusive as possible while remaining sympathetic to their host programme. Vauxhall (4) is the proud sponsor of America's Next Top Model and these ten-second spots take their inspiration from the famous Naomi Campbell catwalk tumble. Mild misogyny aside, these are a huge improvement on its old static car stuff.
When I challenged Juan Cabral to fight David Abbott in my last Private View, I didn't expect him to scuttle back to Argentina. They've got a Nordic on the Cadbury (1) business now and I think they may have called it right. The elephant, or, in this case, 300lb gorilla, is still in the room, but the kids with the performing facial hair go a fair way to expunging the memory. After the comparative disappointment of the "toys under the bed" whimsy of "trucks", the clever move was to keep it small and keep it human.
PS. I'm just checking this piece on the morning of 2 February. It's taken me two hours to get in from Camden Town. That More Th>n windscreen de-icer is a work of fucking genius.
CREATIVE - Robin Wight, president, The Engine Group
I gather it's Senior Citizens' Week in Private View, with a couple of old codgers brought in to spit venom at youthful creative follies. But I see little to provoke me into being an Angry Old Man, and I suspect Gerry and his pacemaker will be similarly untroubled.
In fact, most of this week's selection provide a rich commentary on the concept of "engagement", which, far from being a modern web-based phenomenon, is what old-fashioned advertising always did when it followed the rules of Bill Bernbach rather than the dictates of Rosser Reeves to hammer Anadin into your brain. Branded engagement is, of course, another matter, and this is where Cadbury (1) has got it so brilliantly right. As one of the team involved with the last brand to own a colour (Orange, circa 1994), I can only admire Cadbury's deploying its purple pose so that everyone knows this is about Cadbury rather than just another funny viral.
Of course, some raised their eyebrows at this latest version of the Dairy Milk campaign, pointing to various YouTube films with people moving bits of their face in time to music. So what? The creativity is in choosing the reference. But the real credit, surely, must go to the client for approving an idea that would - at least in the "gorilla" version - tick so few research boxes.
I also suspect the brave hand of the client - maybe even James Murdoch himself - must have played a part in leaving out the brand name in this new series of posters for the Saturday Times (3). Getting the readers to add the brand name themselves is another way of getting branded engagement from the audience: it is known as the Zargonic Effect, after the discovery that the brain will automatically complete an incomplete circle. It also shows a confidence that will surely attract more Top People to read James Harding's significantly improved offering. It's nice to see that newspaper marketing doesn't have to be an advertising graveyard.
Both Cadbury and The Times have branding devices deeply embedded within our brains (The Times even has a typeface named after it), but the Department of Health's "anti-obesity" campaign was starting from scratch. I gather from Baroness Buscombe, who lined up the advertising industry behind it, it's already achieved 30 per cent awareness in under a month. This requires finding a narrative around "obesity" that people are willing to engage with. Change4Life (6) cleverly tells a story of the evolution of the fattest, showing how we've gone from chasing fast-food to a slothful existence that leaves nine out of ten kids with dangerous levels of fat in their body. Keith Haring-style animation helps ensure this is a positive pep talk rather than a negative lecture.
Of course, we're just peeping here at the tip of a much larger iceberg that is ultimately intent on sinking the good ship Cadbury, with its eyebrow-raising fat content. It might just succeed.
Vauxhall's (4) idents have a more modest challenge, which they perform with dexterity. Find a link between Vauxhall and America's Next Top Model. So we see each of the advantages of a Vauxhall (from sat-nav to heated seats) being symbolised by a model bumping into other models, or the actions of a model with a bottomless (ie. hot) dress. Some are better than others, but I think they will do more for Vauxhall than its regular advertising normally achieves.
Naked rugby players make Powerade (5) posters hard to ignore. But I hope this engagement is effectively branded: I fear the stunning photographs may be too distracting!
From males to mail: More Th>n's (2) neat mailer engaged me with a torch for dark mornings and a windscreen-scraper for frosty ones. It was brilliant timing to have this in my home the day there was six inches of snow piled up on my Ultimate Driving Machine.
Altogether, an engaging week.
Project: Cadbury Dairy Milk
Client: Lee Rolston, director of marketing, blocks and beverages,
Brief: Create a piece of content that gives people the same joyful
feeling they have when they eat Cadbury Dairy Milk
Writer/art director: Nils-Petter Lovgren
Director: Tom Kuntz
Production company: MJZ London
Exposure: UK and Ireland TV and cinema
2. MORE TH>N
Project: More Th>n treats
Client: Rachel King, customer retention consultant, More Th>n
Brief: Remind More Th>n customers pre-renewal that "we do more"
Agency: Stephens Francis Whitson
Creative team: Simon Panton, Terence Bly
3. THE TIMES
Project: Saturday Times relaunch
Client: Richard Larcombe, head of brand marketing, Times Media sales and
Brief: Announce the relaunch and redesign of the Saturday Times
Agencies: CHI & Partners, venturethree
Writer: Micky Tudor
Art director: n/s
Exposure: National posters
Project: Vauxhall sponsorship idents for America's Next Top Model
Client: Peter Hope, marketing communications manager, Vauxhall
Brief: Drive awareness, interest and consideration of Vauxhall among
females Agency: Lowe
Writers/art directors: Seb Housden, Ben McCarthy
Director: Ric Hawkes
Production company: Ricandjo.tv
Exposure: Living TV
Project: Innergear Six Nations Rugby
Clients: Beth Allen, senior brand manager; George Wheen, marketing
Brief: Powerade's rugby association
Art director: Mother
Photographer: Alan Clarke
Exposure: National poster and press
Client: Zoe Richardson, brand comms, Change4Life marketing team, DoH
Brief: Educate parents of consequences of excess body fat in children
and inspire and support changes to diet and activity levels
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: James Lowther
Art director: Bill Gallacher
Director: Steve Harding-Hill
Production company: Aardman Animation
Exposure: TV, online
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk