24 June 2011
LoveFilm. Film delivered differently. Really? But I can already download film on iTunes, stream it, order it by phone or online and have it delivered, go to Sky Box Office, Sky Anytime, BT on-demand, 4oD, BBC iPlayer, or go old-skool and just plain buy it from HMV or even my local petrol station. So, what does it do that's so different? Well, it seems that they send stage-school kids round to your house to sing the script to you. Bloody genius. Certainly is different. Imagine settling down to the kids' choral rendition of Midnight Cowboy. I think this is going to be big. Sign me up.
I avoid DIY at all costs. I think it's best left to experts. In fact, it's best left to anyone except me. About ten minutes into any weekend DIY project that my wife has arranged for me, I'm hurling obscenities at whoever's to hand. Just going into a DIY shed sets me off. But, apparently, according to the latest online films from B&Q, DIY doesn't have to be scary. Well, it fucking is in my house. And no amount of tutorial help from B&Q is going to change that. I'm past help now. In fact, I even felt myself tensing up watching these ads. Although that might have been because they're just a bit annoying, particularly all the supers at the end.
Walkers Sunbites. I can't remember a time before the current Walkers campaign. It gently harks back to a simpler age when a telly campaign was lots of executions all with exactly the same punchline. A time when all football matches were played on a Saturday. You rented your TV. And advertising was a maverick industry full of brilliant wasters and dilettantes. Like it or not, times change.
Now, don't get me wrong, I've always been a fan. It has produced some great work over the years. And I'm sure it sells plenty of crisps. And on its day, with a great execution, it can still get away with it.
But when a rather ordinary one pops up like this X Factor spoof, it all just looks and feels a bit dated.
Nice girl from The X Factor does an X Factor-style return to her street to drum up some local support. Dear, sweet wheelchair-bound Auntie Aggie comes out to meet her eating a packet of crisps. Nice girl takes a bite ... hmm, they're so good ... and, well, you know the rest.
A charming online film depicting the provenance of Pilsner Urquell. The animation is a fine and imaginative piece of craft. Unfortunately, the story isn't. If its intention is to sit on the Pilsner Urquell website and be watched by those already interested in the brand, I'm sure it will do an admirable job. If it's to engage with a wider audience, it won't.
The stars of this week's review are, rather surprisingly, both print campaigns.
The first is the promise from Pro Plus that you'll be able to revise without nodding off and getting abused by your mates. A compelling proposition for those students facing exams this summer and whose finances can't stretch to proper drugs. A minor criticism is that the abuse looks a little professional and polite. Shame it didn't feel a bit more real. But a strong, simple idea all the same that will have students everywhere ignoring the dosage recommendations and popping them left, right and centre.
The second is intelligent, effortless and beautifully crafted. In a world where everyone is shouting to get noticed, the campaign for ITV's new crime series Injustice stands out for its quiet authority. Great idea, too, to put the ads out unbranded first. Genuinely compelling and provocative moral dilemmas. Sure we'll be seeing plenty of them during awards season next year.
An interesting week to review ads and perhaps a lesson in where media is shaping concept. The Walkers ad feels like an event spot with the pre-requisites of a big number of viewers, and no doubt a big budget went on its appearance during the Britain's Got Talent final. Seeing as it contained a Simon Cowell star in the break of the final of a Simon Cowell show, you can see who the makers were going after. The opposite can be said of LoveFilm and B&Q, which clearly want their films to be quirky and engaging enough to be shared virally. This, sadly (as I know), isn't as easy as it seems. Nowadays, the ingredients of a viral hit are too difficult to predict (talking animals, falling over and mini Darth Vaders excluded). However boring you might find the hackneyed elements of the "Cowell-friendly" ad, Walkers knows it will hit its demographic hard and probably made many of them laugh. For an agency, that can't be all that bad.
Walkers Sunbites. This ticks all the boxes of a classic FMCG ad. The reality star, the homecoming, the importance of family, and through all this schmaltz comes the classic Walkers twist - the selfish snack lust of the protagonist. I'm still amazed they can get away with stealing food from the elderly and then strapping said granny to a helicopter. Personally, I can't get past "Aunt Aggie's" rictus grin, but I'm sure it will do well, especially when you consider it has nothing to do with the product (which is clumsily levered into the middle of the ad). I thought it was a shame Boris Johnson wasn't available to visit Liverpool and steal food from aunties. That would have been better than John Prescott's ad outing.
LoveFilm. Such a wonderful and simple idea that is bang on the message: films can be delivered in different ways (probably quite key for LoveFilm, with the slow death of DVDs). Communicated by a school choir singing famous movie lines - imagine "You can't handle the truth" in falsetto. The one negative is the actual films appear stark and charmless. I'm not sure why but I never smiled or laughed or wanted to keep watching. A shame for such an evocative idea.
Pro Plus. Another simple and fun idea with surely a wink to the end credits of The Hangover film franchise, the obligatory stag/big night prank photos. Like The Hangover movies, they could have been a bit braver, sexier and wilder with the concept, especially as they appear to be appealing to a student demographic. Consumer-generated content would have been a fun angle on this but might have been a step too far for a pharmaceuticals company.
ITV. Really strong work from Bartle Bogle Hegarty. It is reminiscent of the golden era of poster graphic design but also doesn't jar with the corporate logos of ITV and the sponsor. Its stark and dramatic monochrome design pulls you in and you aren't disappointed by the copy. A really lovely example of the perfect ad for Metro or the Standard.
B&Q. An impressive casting of Heather O'Rourke and Sissy Spacek lookalikes gives this series of film parodies real momentum at the beginning of each. Sadly, the B&Q corporate message comes through quite hard towards the end. If they wanted these to go viral, they had to be even more truthful to the films and then deliver the humour without the tongue in cheek. But still a great idea.
Pilsner Urquell. Really enjoyed and admired this. The voice-over lacks gravitas but seems to work as the beautiful craftsmanship of the animators opens up. It captures the heritage of the brand without preaching and sticks rigidly to the original concept. A lovely example of illustrating a potentially dry brand story with elegance and thought. This is the mother of all corporate history videos - my favourite of the week.