15 September 2011
Have you noticed that everyone is doing promotions at the moment? I think some people call them "activation ideas". Free this, free that, twofor-one, chance to win, another chance to win, priority seats, cinema Wednesdays, free pies. Yes, free pies.
The mobile phone network O2 is offering its customers a free breakfast pie and it has made a 60-second TV ad to tell everyone. It ties into its sponsorship of the England rugby team, who are playing in the Rugby World Cup. The ad shows a guy being woken up by the team and made breakfast (a pie, for some reason) by Jonny Wilkinson, among others, before he sits down in front of the telly to watch the coverage of the games. Quite a sweet ad, but a little too sweet and gentle for me. They've gone for the slightly dreamy approach with twinkly music. Passive engagement, I think Millward Brown calls it. Rugby fans will probably like it, and anyone who wants a free pie, I guess.
But while Dad's watching the rugby in the morning,what will little Michael and Zara be having for breakfast? How about some Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes? This is pretty simple stuff. We see a few shapes from the box move around while Vic Reeves tries to tell us an exciting story about a rocket and a fish. This is a brave attempt. The problem is, there aren't many different shapes in the box and he's only got 30 seconds to tell us the story, so it isn't that exciting. I don't think there will be many more in this campaign since they'll run out of stories pretty quickly.
Moving on to another food offering for kids, Chedds is a new product from the Cathedral City cheese brand and it has placed it firmly in the school lunch-box category. A mouse in a pirate costume arrives on a stuffed polar bear on wheels and has an archery contest with a schoolkid. This ad is just weird. I've shown it to several people and the reaction is the same: open-mouthed incredulity. Conscious that it isn't aimed at cynical ad men and women, I showed it to my nine-year-old daughter, Evie. She smiled, laughed, and told me it was a "good advert".
The next ad is for Fifa 12 from EA Sports. I have to say, this ad is a bit of a mess. Branded with PlayStation on the front and back end, the ad is stuffed with too many different elements in between, including a bloke on an operating table and a giant-sized Wayne Rooney. Did anyone tell Wayne this wasn't a Nike ad? An inappropriate American voiceover on the end is bordering on parody - but maybe they intended it that way.
On to the burning question of the moment: has Marks & Spencer gone too upmarket by recruiting posh totty - Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - straight from her recent Burberry campaign? I think not. The ad with Ryan Reynolds is beautifully shot, moody and stylish, but its feet are kept firmly on the ground by the addition of prices and prominent logos. Just about right for the discerning M&S shopper.
Next, and following in the footsteps of Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, the rapper Jamal Edwards is starring in the new Google ad. This is really an ad demonstrating the power of YouTube, but since Google paid $1.65 billion for it in 2006, I guess it has the right to focus on it. This ad is beautifully constructed. Interesting, engaging, nicely edited and all the elements are interwoven seamlessly, with great sound design and a beautiful end device that pulls all the features into a Google Chrome logo. A kind of inspirational testimonial/celebrity endorsement/product demonstration thingy with great music that's cool. Who could ask for anything more?
Janus was the Roman god who looked backwards and forwards at the same time. He would have made a good reviewer of this week's Private View selection, as some work strides forward with confidence while some looks to the past.
"Smouldering sex appeal" isn't a phrase that springs to mind when you think of Marks & Spencer - until now. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the former Victoria's Secret model and Transformers star, has slipped on a curve-hugging fuscia wrap dress (among other things) and cosies up to Ryan Reynolds (top of People's "Sexiest Man Alive" list in 2010) in this delicious campaign for the autumn 2011 Autograph collection. All credit to M&S for being bold and not being swayed by a vocal minority who complained about the use of "sexy" celebrities such as Myleene, Dannii and co. I can't wait to hear their reaction to these new ads ...
I'm left none the wiser about Chedds from Cathedral City and, although I want to like Monty the Mouseketeer, I can't help agreeing with the little girl in the second commercial: "Ridiculous." These spots are bizarre but I'm sure kids will love them. I feel I've met Monty and his friend before, though - they bear more than a passing resemblance to Sir Didymus and Ambrosius (his sheep dog sidekick) who featured in Jim Henson's Labyrinth. And what is it about the two children that made me expect they would turn to the camera and start waggling their eyebrows?
Celebrating how people use the web in an inspirational way is a brilliant, forward-looking idea for Google, neatly summed up in the line: "Google. The web is what you make it." This spot celebrates the story of Jamal Edwards, who posted a rap on YouTube and is now a media mogul five years later. The execution is great, the track is brilliant (Wretch 32's Traktor) and the clips of Jamal and his "team" are really engaging. But, for me, it lacks the simplicity of the other recent Google work.
The new Nike commercial from Wieden & Kennedy doesn't quite compare either ... Oh, it's not for Nike, it's actually for EA Sports. It's about the passion and fanaticism of fans who will do anything not to miss a match. Game graphics are seamlessly intercut with live action and there is one memorable sequence of a giant Wayne Rooney on the penalty spot in front of a minuscule, frightened goalie. Comments from gamers are a little dismissive: "Is it just me, or would anyone else have wanted to see more gameplay footage than hear some idiot talk about a match?" And does anyone else feel the need to add the phrase "drink Coca-Cola" after the line "love football, play football"?
In contrast, this beautifully crafted ad for O2 is a brilliant lesson on how to use sports stars to communicate a message rather than using them simply because they are "personalities". The emotion of the early morning game moment is captured beautifully and the idea makes you feel that, as a supporter, you are part of the team. Personally, I have a slight problem with the idea of eating a pie at four in the morning and, if I'm being really pedantic, real rugby fans don't need a bribe to get them out of bed.
Lastly, "the little fish who loved the stars" for Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes is a new product "demo" done with charm, imagination and a story that feels perfectly suited to a young audience. I've had a flashback here as well, in the form of TBWA's surreal "kipper" ad for Lego. Imagine a spot starring one of the unidentifiable-shaped Krispies you get at the bottom of the pack. Maybe it could turn into a two-headed dog - or a two-faced god. It would be a wonderful opportunity for Vic Reeves, someone not backward in coming forward, to inspire a future generation of children at breakfast time.