20 May 2011
"This ad is Godzilla, I am Japan. Boom."
"Fuck this ad, he looks like Howard from the Halifax ads."
These are two YouTube comments on an ad we recently made. Good or bad, it's all real, happening now, and it's powerful. Ask Jemima.
Twitter, Facebook and the comments on your latest YouTube upload will tell you, whether you're a client or an agency, in real-time whether people like what you've done or hate it. Granted, it's not a Wednesday-night focus group of 13 carefully selected housewives and it harbours the occasional freak, but it's a harsh, thrilling and, more importantly, real-time, 1,000-strong report on your efforts as they happen. The entertainment industry has been facing these obstacles for a while.
What's a new definition of success? A million hits on YouTube? A million bums off the sofa? What If we dropped our previous vanities (last year's awards winners etc) and made these figures our measures of success?
Well, the One brand is doing something cool. I don't see this ad getting a million hits on YouTube but I do see these eggs, and whatever else this conscientious brand decides to sell, flying off the shelves. An "about time" moment. While I wish the ad had the life of a brand that exists to actually make stuff better, it's simply executed and doesn't slide an "idea" in the way of its message.
The Sunday Times Rich List brief is loaded with potential fame. It's a guilty pleasure. There's loads of natural tinder in these people: loaded, hated, loved, cosmetically altered. I want to feel more excited by the annual return of the Rich List, though. The haters on YouTube might miss all this, however, and simply bang on about its similarity to a comedic property they previously enjoyed. A rare opportunity for The Sunday Times and its offering to appeal to not just Sunday Times readers is missed here.
On missing something, the only reason I understand the Skoda work is because I've read the explanation next to the clip on Campaignlive.co.uk. I'm loving the ambition to make idents more than moving postcards but I don't see these and their five seconds of fame earning the curiosity it would require to leap online and find their hidden car. They give good mood, though.
A million bums on a picnic blanket? Pimm's also feels right, but that isn't enough. Executed typically, with no real surprises or twists on our British sensibilities, I'm unlikely to race to Facebook for a BBQ recipe. I've looked, and that's actually what awaits you online. I'm not seeing a real reason to befriend this fruit-based cocktail yet ...
The Green Party interruption is a great idea. It's let down by the performance of the politician. If you're going to take over an entertainer's soapbox, make sure you're better than the guy on before, no matter how worthy your message. If it were more funny, more powerful or genuinely emotional, this would be great, and after that famous. A million hits? See Obama's Correspondents' Dinner at the White House for an example of how to mess with what's supposed to happen.
Land Rover is a nicely crafted, classic bit of print, for a classic British brand. It feels like an ad for people who already have this car, though, and it's what Land Rover has been doing for more than ten years now. I think there's a whole new audience ready to be excited by these luxury beasts, but this brand needs to play where they play.
Why can't a car that goes anywhere show us something we've never seen before?
This week, let's lose the preciousness. Take the gloves off and don't make anything that won't be infamous.
People are talking. Good or bad, write some stuff that'll make them talk about you.
There's an awful lot of tinkering going on at the moment, don't you think? Tinkering with platforms, channels, content, even brands themselves. Now, don't get me wrong, I like a bit of a tinker as much as the next man. However, I'm getting the increasingly depressing feeling that much of the tinkering is without vision, without purpose, without substance, that it's tactical tinkering and it's getting in the way of proper strategy.
The Skoda Puzzle work is a perfect case in point. This is the brand that brought us the quite wonderful "cake" and "meaner stuff": both fun. Now, we have its Channel 5 sponsorship of US crime drama. So, in a perfect marriage of brand and sponsorship message, Skoda also serves up some criminal drama in the form of 11 puzzles to solve, over 11 weeks, each taking about 11 minutes to crack. And having cracked them, there's a chance, just a chance, mind, that I might win one. Lordy, that's a lot of work for "a chance". As most will tell you, the secret of any interactive idea is to get the right balance between "what's in it for them" and "what's in it for us". I like the thinking behind this idea, I applaud the ambition and I'm haunted, in a good way, by the soundtrack. The problem is, though, I'm just not sure I can be arsed.
More tinkering over at The Sunday Times, I see, as it brings us this year's Rich List, its annual celebration of wealth and success and, by its very nature, a reminder of my own miserable failings. However, it would seem that, at News International, the brand managers are on some kind of job swap as they serve up a right tabloid feast of dad-gags. The Times, the vanguard of seriousness, the flag-bearer of substance, the clarion caller of straight-bat journalism (I could go on) cracking one-liners about something as serious as inordinate wealth? Cor blimey, guv'nor, what is the world coming to? It's all a bit unnecessarily dumbed-down to me and that's not The Times, surely?
Now, on to the Green Party and a continuation of tinkering.
This time, we're talking "channel tinkering". Having said that, this appears less about tinkering with channels and more about taking a sledgehammer to them. Absolutely, the juxtaposition between a comedy night and political crusading is going to create impact. However, unless that message is "The Green Party will do more than any other party to piss all over your fun", then this is a step too far. Comedy and policy does just doesn't mix.
Pimm's. Yet more tinkering. Alexander Armstrong seems to have been dropped, but this is still delightful work. It captures the mood and eccentricity of our British summer without it feeling forced or contrived. Proper tinkering, strategic tinkering. It makes me proud to be British (which is all the more exceptional considering I'm not).
Finally, to two that haven't been tinkered with. Love the Land Rover Defender work - love the craft and the attention to detail. Although unlikely to win over sales, it is likely to win over awards judges.
Finally, there's One. A tricky one is One. A tricky one because I like it - the tone, the visual look and feel, the good intention - but I just can't help feeling that it's going to get horribly lost among the cacophony of other wonder-foods that also set out to save the world, mankind and the planet. It's just all a bit Dido and that can never be a good thing, if you ask me. Tinker more, One people.
So, tinkering galore this week - some good, some not so good, some that needed more. And the moral? "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Brand owners would do well to remember that, as would most agencies, as would Peter Crouch.