Campaign, Friday, 15 May 2009 12:00AM
I'm a virgin.
Not literally, of course. I've got umpteen kids and while the conception of at least two of them was borderline immaculate (I think my sperm got on the Red Bull and flew across the bedroom, bat-like, in the dead of night), I have definitely enjoyed coitus.
No, I'm a Private View virgin.
So, with that inexperience in mind, who would you like me to be, my 20,000 lovers? Morris, strident and passionate? Or Moira, silver-tongued and seductive?
Hopefully, a middle ground should do the job; here's a nice, conventional intro.
Never mind the credit crunch everybody, let's talk about something much more important to us, as we prostrate ourselves before the twin Gods of smaller fees and nervous clients, let's talk about the creativity crunch.
In a year when Hovis is supposed to be the best ad on the box and Wallace and Gromit are tarting themselves around to any advertiser who'll have them, let's talk about the great work that isn't happening. Actually, let's not. Let's hope that whatever's in Campaign's bulging sac will lift us out of our flaccid gloom.
Bollocks. Thanks Campaign ... They tell you to be objective, not worry about where the work's come from but, at the same time, they tell you who's done it. The first bit of work is from the agency I grew up at and the next has been written by a bloke I've known for 15 years. Oh well, here goes ...
Barclays (2). I'm not sure. Sorry John, John, Nigel, Simon, Jim, Pep, Ben, Nick, Rosie, Victor and Mary, but I'm not sure that flip humour and comedy voiceovers are the way to go for a hated bank. This is neither the big Barclays of Samuel L Jackson, nor is it the two prats in a car. It seems like a brand in search of approval, and a register, and the work suffers as a result.
Channel 4 (6). Hi Joseph. You're obviously back from Amsterdam. Hope you're well. Let's go for a beer some time. This is a sweet, little idea; a powerful visual metaphor for the thousands of children that sink beneath the radar of the state every year. Having said that, it's way too long and you can really see the edges on it. It could have done with less money spent on film and more money spent on post.
Cobra (4). Lovely. I haven't got a clue what it's got to do with Cobra but it's a lovely, simple digital idea. Can we stop using that word "digital" soon? We can all do it now, can't we? It seems to be a word that lazy ideas hide behind. Don't blame the agency. It's what they do, think fast and think light. This one just needed some rigour, some planning and some money spent on it in a creative department.
Change4Life (5). Clear. Simple. Distinctive. Informative. Clearly targeted. This is doing a lot right. Love the fact that modern life is blamed. Love the personification of fat. I'd like to know if it's working. The animation feels a bit dated. You could argue it's timeless, I suppose. I hope it works. It's important stuff.
WWF International (3). The WWF is no longer just about the animals; it's about the whole planet. Thanks for letting me know but what do you want me to do about it? Charming enough in a Honda sort of a way, but I'm not sure of its purpose.
Comparethemarket.com (1). The latest instalment in a glorious campaign. I know the blogsnipers have pointed out the Geico/gecko thing and it probably won't win awards as a result, but it's great. Simple, integrated and it stands out like a sore thumb among its competitors. Love it. Love the outtakes, the website and the fact that he did Private View a few weeks ago. What a climax. I'm spent. Congratulations to all involved.
PLANNER - Martin Cole, planning director, Wieden & Kennedy, London
Hello lovely people. We're going to review some advertising - yay! Let's start with Change4Life (5). This funny little ad was made with two bananas and three apples, all mashed up into a pretty animation. It tells the story of all the horrible things that can happen if you eat too many pies. Pies are fatty and fatty stuff gets all gooey inside your body. Naughty pies. There is lots of talking, which I'm sure people cleverer than me can remember, but it ends on a jolly picture, and a wobbly hand-drawn logo. Woo-hoo!
A bit like the WWF International (3) film. In fact, I think they might be the same. Except this is about pandas, and pandas are good. Good panda. There's another long chat, which I think is trying to tell me that if we could only be nicer to pandas, we'd be nicer to each other. Which is lovely!
All these friendly people. Isn't it yummy? They're even friendly at Barclays (2). You can tell because the man telling their story has a friendly regional accent. Yippee! I think he wants to have a conversation with me. About what, I'm not quite sure, because he goes on a bit, but someone is chasing pigs around the garden, the pigs are pink, there's lots of green bushes and a "good porcelain doggy". I like doggies. Good porcelain doggy indeed. And they make it sound so simple to be their friend. I like friends too. Take one small step they say. So easy. Every little helps, eh? Goodie! Let's!
I'm sorry, I can't keep this up any more. I've run out of "yays". Is anyone else sick of the lower-case tone of voice? The Innocent tone of voice. The open, honest, we're your best friend, straightforward, plain-speaking and self-deprecating tone of voice. I am.
How you say stuff is important - it's often more interesting than a brand's positioning. And I'm all for conversations but not if everyone sounds the bloody same and rambles on like they're my mate from The Wirral. Planners, creatives - where's the bluster gone? I want my bank to kick financial ass, I want the WWF to go save something, I want the Government fat busters to tell those lazy little tykes to get off their arses.
Which is why I thank God for Comparethemarket.com (1). Not a planner in sight here (although I'm sure the IPA paper will say different). I think the creative director might have been sleeping on the job too - who let that clanging pun out the door? - but it's a home run. It doesn't sound like anyone else. It knows what it wants you to do. It's interesting. You might tell a mate about it. And it works - the meerkat has 396,121 more Facebook friends than I do. You think about comparing prices, who do you think of first?
I want to stay on the up, and beer brands often have some confidence, but iBanter from Cobra (4) makes it hard. You're supposed to hold your iPhone over your mouth - it then tells jokes on your behalf. Sorry, but what current or potential Cobra drinker wants to telegraph the fact they don't have any jokes of their own? Anyway, it's all by-the-by - I downloaded it and it doesn't work. 2.5 stars on the app store. Enough said.
Finally, a trailer for Britain's Forgotten Children on Channel 4 (6). 4Creative is consistently brilliant at elevating programmes into big statements about the stance of the Channel 4 brand. This is more of the same - simple message, simple visual idea, and great music. Good old-fashioned TV, it's refreshingly confident and direct.
It's a recession. Most of us are in the shit. Someone rather annoyingly tossed all the media balls into the air when we weren't looking. This isn't the time to go all nicey nicey. Could everyone stop blubbing and show some bollocks?
Brief: Continue to clear up the confusion between comparethemarket.com
Writers/art directors: Matt Lloyd, Rich Connell, Clem Woodward
Director: Darren Walsh
Production company: Passion Pictures
Exposure: TV, radio, online
Project: Take one small step
Client: Barclays Retail
Brief: Highlight some of the simple ways Barclays is helping its
customers manage their money better
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Bill Hartley
Art director: Giles Hepworth
Director: Lynn Fox
Production company: Blink
3. WWF INTERNATIONAL
Client: Martin Atkin, director of external and media relations, WWF
Brief: Demonstrate that while other organisations focus on single
issues, WWF understands how everything is connected: from species, to
natural resources, to mankind
Agency: Ogilvy Advertising
Writer: Sue Higgs
Art director: Andy Bird
Exposure: TV, print, poster, mobile download
Clients: Adam Barriball, comms manager; Will Ghali, marketing director,
Brief: Show that Cobra has moved from Indian restaurants to pubs, bars
Writers: Sanderson Jones, Mark Restuccia, Dave Gibson, Matt Blaize, Joe
Bor, Ian Smith, Kent Valentine, Simon Felder, David Longley, Matt Tiller
Art directors: Simon Waterfall, Dom Baker
Exposure: iPhone app
Client: Sheila Mitchell, Change4Life, Department of Health
Brief: Educate parents about the negative health consequences of excess
body fat in children
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: James Lowther
Art director: Bill Gallacher
Director: Graham Fink
Production company: Aardman Animation
Exposure: TV, press, outdoor, online
6. CHANNEL 4
Project: Britain's Forgotten Children
Client: Channel 4
Brief: Encourage attitudinal change among viewers
Writer/art director: Joseph Ernst
Director: Brett Foraker
Production company: The Mill
Exposure: Channel 4
This article was first published on Campaign