25 August 2011
Then, as I was working my way through it, someone I'd never met from the agency looked at me and said: "I think that ice-cream would be much better if there was just a bit more vanilla in it, and if the chocolate coating was maybe a tiny bit thinner."
I was impressed. I remember thinking that the guy must have an opinion about everything. If he had something to say about the thickness of the chocolate on ice-creams, surely he'd also have an informed view on Israel, potato-harvesting techniques in Eastern Europe and which bikini colour best suited Marilyn Monroe.
Afterwards, I learned that the guy was the creative director, and that it was his job to have an opinion. And to give it.
Now, 23 years later, London finds me as a creative director, about to pass judgment on other people's ice-creams. And, to make matters worse, I'm doing it in public. Forgive my pickiness.
I think Cravendale is my favourite of the week. It has most of the things I've always admired in British advertising - unexpected casting, great storytelling, amazing direction and high production values. It's only missing my favourite British ingredient: a creative curve-ball - something that you would have never expected.
Nevertheless, it's not an easy brief. Milk has been milk since the days of cavemen, as the spot acknowledges. In fact, it's quite surprising that there's still something on the face of the earth that remains untouched by the ruthless winds of the digital revolution. I actually use the internet to get the old stuff the old way. Milk courtesy of the milkman, for example.
McDonald's "happy box" is a nice ad to watch. Good fun and the right brand behaviour. Not a big step forward, but then not a step backwards either. A nice midfield move.
Talking of football, Sky Sports taps into a rich seam - football passion. But it does very little with it, I'm afraid. Being Brazilian, I feel more at home talking about what this spot could have been.
Gordon's Gin has an interesting proposition, but I still wonder if it's got an interesting execution. While the strategy comes through so very clearly, it's also a pity that the strategy comes through so very clearly ...
I felt as though I was meant to laugh at the end, but I didn't. Let's wait for the campaign to unfold. It's quite unfair to judge a book by a paragraph.
The same is true of the Science Museum. The idea is an interesting one: "Spend your summer in space." But I wish the execution had done the line more justice.
Wrangler is fun to interact with. If, instead of a website, it was described as a state-of-the-art interactive fashion editorial, it would seem so much more impressive. But the Gordon's Gin guy would then find the description just as ludicrous.
Opinions. Opinions. Opinions. Who hasn't got one? The man in the street will sell you his for £50, and you can call it a focus group.
In fact, the problem most ideas face is surviving too many opinions before they actually see the light of day. A few are lucky to make it. And fewer still make it without suffering any damage. It's a tough world out there. We all deserve an ice-cream.
Cravendale is funny milk. Advertising rules are broken, and the idea (in this case, "the milk matters") is so strong that branding on the periphery will suffice. A man dreams of a cow dressed as Marley's ghost that chants "milk me, Brian". The challenge here is to forge a link between randomness and relevance. Despite the dottiness, the previous ads, with little toy men and the feline Jets and Sharks clicking their thumbs, seemed more apt. Consumers become owners and experts of the campaigns directed at them. Cravendale aficionados may consider that this example milks the idea to the edge of indulgence. Its campaign cousin, Yeo Valley, entertains and brands exquisitely.
The Wrangler site is cool and the models look good. The interaction asks users to drag the film to the next sequence across a series of imaginative urban sets. There's some interesting stuff on the site about the stunts undertaken during the shooting of its commercials. The brand has elegance and there's no incitement to riot. Also, there are some insights on what to do with felt-tip pens when bored.
Dr Nikki Alexander (aka Emilia Fox) sees dead people and does squelchy things with innards on Sunday evenings. Gene Hunt (aka Philip Glenister) makes anachronistic remarks about birds and skirts. Bring the two together and you have a Campari ad from the 70s ("Were you truly wafted here from paradise?"), a Cointreau ad from the 80s ("The ice melts") and, to some extent, a Nescafe Gold Blend ad from the 90s.
The idea of a Pygmalion two-hander is not new, but needs to be brilliantly scripted, performed and made. The underlying idea for Gordon's Gin is clever and has achieved standout in a difficult sector. But "shall we get started?" is now looking contrived and the actors are grinding the words out. There's a good enough pay-off line, but this campaign awaits its best turn. As the ingredients are all in place, perhaps the time has come to get the rubber gloves off and make this work legendary.
Sky Sports is back promoting the start of the football season. So dominant is Sky with sport that our household has two boxes to accommodate football, rugby, cricket and, er, America's Next Top Model. The film cleverly focuses on the rise and fall of the crowd's emotions. It is a reminder for families and fans to gather at home in the name of football.
The Science Museum wants you to join the space trail and visit its summer exhibition. Snippets on the microsite tempt children with factoids about the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the time it takes to travel to Mars and when the Sun will burn out. The cartoon content sets the galactic tone, and the logo is F-A-B.
And so to McDonald's. With a complete absence of cynicism, Glad All Over by The Dave Clark Five from 1964 (the first year of trading for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce) plays over the message that a Happy Meal box, whether on a beach or on Primrose Hill, will make kids happy. Don Draper would sell this to his clients as a depiction of family pleasure brought alive with pertinent music. Perhaps the rules of engagement never change, although the next track by the same band in the same year was Bits And Pieces - which kind of describes how the ad is cut together. McDonald's shows us a value-rich and vibrant antidote to urban mob rule. It's beyond praise.