Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 22 June 2012 09:00AM
Nick Darken executive creative director, Albion
Howard Willmott global creative director, DDB
A year ago, one of my creative teams noted that the UK had not won a single Radio Lion. UK radio was in the toilet. Seeing the opportunity, they made a conscious effort to do one great radio spot. This year, they won a bronze Lion. So why is radio so unloved in this country? My first thought is to ring Absolute Radio’s Clive Dickens. He said if we asked 100 consumers for their favourite radio spot, it would be a radio station promo: "We know how to write radio better." Ouch. But I’m not buying it. We’re just not trying. So, let’s jump to Cannes 2013 to see how this lot do. I’m joined on the judging panel by an international contingent of radio bad-arses. First up is the Scottish Government’s "Dr Dunn" spot. Brazil: There is no idea in this ad.
UK: My old man was exactly the sort of guy this spot is aimed at. He didn’t see a doctor until a tumour nearly fell out of him. He hated doctors. The beauty of this spot is that it is under-produced. The doctor is real and kinda saucy-sounding. It will work like hell and save lives.
Romania: It’s shit – let’s move on.
Next is the Department of Health’s "cough".
US: It’s a great brief, but not a great response.
UK: It’s respectable, but maybe they should have saved their money on the entry.
Brazil: You’re deluded by national pride. It’s crap.
Romania: I need a cigarette.
Then the British Heart Foundation’s "59 seconds".
UK: That’s Tommy Cooper, a comedian who died of a heart attack on national TV in the 80s. Pretty brave.
US: The jokes are very cheesy, but I guess if you knew the voice, it would be powerful.
Romania: Didn’t you already bring back a comedian from the dead?
Brazil: Bob Monkhouse. It’s not an original idea. Let’s move on.
The National Blood Service’s "perfect storm".
Brazil: This is a real mess.
US: It’s very clunky.
UK: I’m gonna take the hit here, guys – flog me. I apologise.
Romania: I’m stubbing my cigarette on you.
The BBC’s "kitchen" spot.
Brazil: The first example – why do politics decide how much water I put in my kettle? They don’t; I do.
US: And why do they assume I’m in my kitchen?
UK: Politics everywhere is not a new idea.
Romania: I’ll be back in ten…
And, finally, Snickers’ "film trailer".
Brazil: This is better.
UK: It’s a great insight and a perfect example of extending a TV idea into the theatre of the mind. Cut me a shortlist here, guys.
Romania: It’s good, but not a patch on the work my countrymen did for Rom chocolate bar.
US: Yeah, it’s good, but the movie announcer pastiche feels lazy.
I’m busy, a lot of personal stuff on my mind. I’ve got the radio on while I’m doing something in the kitchen because that’s quite soothing.
Tommy Cooper’s great. I love his voice, and his bewildered fool personality in that menacing body conjures up lovely memories. (Is that really him, though, in the British Heart Foundation ad?) Then comes something about heart medication and cholesterol.
I’m not in the mood for a Snickers right now, but its ad is pretty funny and it’s true that I’m not me when I’m hungry. Tommy Cooper died of a heart attack – that makes more sense, then.
Politicians disappoint me, but the BBC "kitchen" ad makes me think politics shouldn’t be tarred by my prejudice – and they do make boring stuff quite interesting at the BBC. Maybe the Snickers ad wasn’t the best example they could have chosen.
Dr Dunn doesn’t disappoint – she makes me believe I wouldn’t be wasting her time with a problem. I’ll remember that. This Scottish Government spot didn’t even feel like an ad.
I won’t give blood – not with those needles. I didn’t know that National Blood Service donations go down during major events. Not sure I really like them using old Tommy now he’s gone, even if he did go in a relevant way – maybe they got permission from his family.
Cinema announcer voices – I’ve heard loads of ads with that idea. Would Tommy have taken his medicine? I’m not mad about the Olympics, but would rather watch it than face the needle.
I saw the coughing ad on TV a lot, and this radio version from the Department of Health reminds me of it and I’m now very aware that it could be cancer, but Dr Dunn wouldn’t mind me popping in.
That’s how the radio ads this month struck me on the first listen.
I am not a great believer in research groups (especially made up of one person). I don’t think people overanalyse ads in that way – they come at them unexpectedly and carry on with their lives.
But this is Private Hear. So the age-old comments that any reasonable person would make about these ads (hone jokes ’til they are the very best they can be; hone first thoughts to the same degree; make it more inspirational; make sure your link or hook is not just relevant but unarguably convincing; make them unforgettable, funny or thought-provoking) are not about winning awards, but inspiring real people to act by cutting through the huge demands on their brain with something clear, simple, unusual and memorable.
Easy for me to say and much harder for an overworked, time-poor team to come up with and then steer successfully across all the hurdles they face. But anyone would have killed to have had these briefs on their desks. And therefore a more worrying comment would be that nothing here really challenges. Nothing takes the category to a new place, or truly astonishes the listener.
There are both comedy and tragedy available across these briefs. In fact, every single one has the extreme subject matter (death, energy, politics, death, life and death, in the order that I heard them) that is the stuff of captivating, enthralling, cathartic and inspiring writing.
If we are going to interrupt people’s listening with our message, we need to do it with more charm, wit and grace.
Snickers 'film trailer' by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Client: Olivia Cheng, European brand director, Mars
Brief: Remind people they’re not themselves when they’re hungry
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Creative team: Zac Ellis, Rich Littler
Producer: Paul Burke
Sound studio: Jungle
Engineer: Graeme Elston
Campaign exposure: Radio
Scottish Government 'Dr Dunn' by The Leith Agency
Client: Jill Walker, marketing health team leader, Scottish Government
Brief: Encourage people to become more proactive in early cancer detection
Agency: The Leith Agency
Creative: Gerry Farrell
Sound studio: Red Facilities
Engineer: James Lyons
Campaign exposure: Radio
National Blood Service 'perfect storm' by DLKW Lowe
Client: Jon Latham, director of session strategy and marketing, NHS Blood and Transplant
Brief: An appeal for people to give blood now to ensure blood stocks are kept up during the summer
Agency: DLKW Lowe
Creative team: Stanley Cheung, Jonathan Benson
Producers: Sue Lee-Stern, Emma Cornish
Sound studio: Scramble
Engineers: Russell Bradley, Sue Lee-Stern
Campaign exposure: National radio
British Heart Foundation '59 seconds' by Grey London
Clients: Nick Radmore, head of social marketing and brand; Vishnee Sauntoo, marketing manager, British Heart Foundation
Brief: Encourage heart patients to contact the BHF for advice
Agency: Grey London
Creative team: Nils Leonard, Vicki Maguire, Clemmie Telford, Lex Firth
Producer: Daisy Mellors
Sound studio: Grand Central
Engineers: Ben Leeves, Tristan Rose
Campaign exposure: Radio, door-drops and inserts
Department of Health 'cough' by M&C Saatchi
Client: James Brandon, head of marketing, Department of Health
Brief: Encourage people to see their GP if they’ve had a cough for three weeks or more
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Creative team: Dan McCormack, Luke Boggins
Producer: Simon Blaxland
Sound studio: Soho Square Studios
Engineer: Adam Smyth
Campaign exposure: National radio
BBC 'kitchen' by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Client: Dina Rana, creative marketing manager, BBC
Brief: Persuade audiences that the BBC helps them understand how politics relate to their lives
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Creative team: Mike Boles, Jerry Hollens
Producer: Dan Snaith
Sound studio: Wave Studios
Engineer: BBC Radio Cross Trails
Campaign exposure: Radio
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk