16 February 2012
It's the Chinese year of the dragon and, as a Leo born in the year of the dragon, I'm feeling excited about the future. Like a young Peter Stringfellow about to give a palm-reading demonstration to a bus-load of Swedish volleyball players. Wooohoooo!
I have to say, in all the years I've done Private View, this week's has been the highest standard of all. Normally, it's a bit hit and miss, and there is always one ugly little runt that needs squishing, but today's offering is all pretty good.
Let's start with Cadbury. It has been a while coming, but Fallon and Cadbury have finally dropped the Glass and a Half Full Productions stuff, and created a new ad that is fun, optimistic and, lord oh lord, actually has a product in it! It has got a great soundtrack, it is beautifully shot and it has the charm and feel of Burton's Willy Wonka film. I hope it works: the platform feels much more flexible than the old stuff, and will create more consistent, righter creative work. Nice.
Next, Honda. When I first saw this, I couldn't work out if I was watching an ad for Honda or Lurpak, but when I saw a drive gear and an engine block, I assumed it was for Honda. A cheeky little spark takes us on a magical journey to the great unknown, starting in the Honda factory. Again, amazing production values - really amazing - but a simple, clear proposition that will make every Honda driver feel special. There is just enough enticing footage of the Civic, which is an amazing car (apparently). I like it - it feels like Honda and Wieden & Kennedy have got their collective mojos back.
Virgin Money. Old Branson, he's a clever bastard, isn't he? He's actually a hero of mine, so I hope he won't mind me calling him a bastard. But he is, isn't he? I love the entrepreneurial boldness of Virgin to go into sectors that need a good old-fashioned kick up the arse. Music, space travel, air travel, balloon travel and train travel have all been Virgin-ed and now it's the turn of banking to get the treatment. All I can say is: "Richard. You clever bastard! It's about fucking time. I hate what bankers have done to our lovely planet!" (Check out Wunch of Bankers on YouTube.) The ad is well-shot and tells the story beautifully. It's a little drier than the usual sexy Virgin stuff, but it's talking about money, so it probably can't be tooooooo sexy.
On the same smart entrepreneurial trip, HSBC believes even the smallest businesses will soon be multinational, and it has a clever little cow (can I say that?) selling lemonade from her front garden. She not only makes good lemonade, but she speaks Cantonese (I think) and accepts dollars, yen and euros. Beautifully shot, again! It feels clearer and less contrived than previous stuff. Nice.
Lynx. Explosions, car crashes, laying waste to an entire city, burning clowns and gorgeous girls in basketball gear are the main reasons I got into advertising. So thanks, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, you've made an old man very happy. It's the usual very high standard of work we've come to expect from Lynx over the past decade, but it's taken to a new level. It feels original, fun and sexy. I loved it.
Finally, the Aviva sponsorship work for the Home channel. Shot like Martin Parr's Sign Of The Times documentary, we meet some eccentrics who have turned their houses and sheds into something much more interesting, such as a huge aquarium, an old 40s-style cinema and a flight simulator. Even though they are very, very short, these are charming stories well told, and I engage with the characters and find them interesting. Nice.
CLIENT - Jonathan Mildenhall, vice-president of global advertising strategy and content excellence, The Coca-Cola Company
First, I'd just like to say thank you, London, for not entirely forgetting I exist. The best thing about my job is my job in its entirety. The hardest thing about my job is that I don't live in London. So being invited back home is always an honour and being invited back home to talk about British work is a double honour. I say that because, although other countries rival the UK ad industry in terms of idea potential now, generally speaking the UK still leads the world in terms of basic craft skills, as this week's body of work proves.
Aviva. Three bizarre little idents that promote the pride that even the most eccentric among us have about our homes. While I like the idea and, boy, could such a platform create huge conversation and customer participation, these executions fail me as they lack a sense of authenticity and believability. If the stories and cast are real, it is a shame that didn't come through. If the stories and cast are fake, well, that's just a shame all round because I bet there are real Aviva customers who have real eccentricities at home that would make great ads.
Virgin Money. I was mesmerised by this film at first. I loved the anthemic journey - even if, at times, the production felt a little cheap (hey, it's tough shooting in space). But I have to say, although I was really leaning into my screen for most of it, when it landed on banking, I let out a small sigh. Please no, not another financial ad that lacks humanity. Not Virgin. Virgin's best brands have been built on humanity. Humanity that sits on a peer level with the consumer. And this ad, well, it just feels too distant for the Virgin brand and for my money.
HSBC. Any father-and-daughter-based story is always going to tug loudly at my paternally deprived heart strings, so this had me interested from the off. Beautifully directed, cast and shot, it is a simple message nicely told. It won't win many awards, but it did make me feel good about HSBC, and financial advertising that makes me feel good is a rare thing these days.
Honda. Demonstrating the journey of an idea, where it comes from and how it gets birthed, well, this is just a huge idea. The production is gorgeous. Gorgeous up to the point where the film most needs brilliant production and that is the integration of the product. The car shot is predictable and fleeting. It made me think that the director just zoned out. If this were Coke's money, I'd fear that real people would respond by saying: "That was cool. What was it for?"
Lynx. Although I like this ad, I have to say it had two massive drawbacks from a creative point of view. First, chain-reaction ads have been done hundreds of times before, so if you are going to do one, make yours the most dramatic, or funny, or clever. Although the production budget must have been huge, it didn't deliver on any sense of uniqueness. Second, where is the sex? Lynx makes some of the world's sexiest ads. We love them for it. Boys and girls alike. The best Lynx ads are sexy. Full stop. And yet this film seems to stop before the sex starts. As a result, I'm not sure it will be remembered as fondly in years to come as vintage Lynx ads are.
Cadbury. Wow. Gorgeous storytelling and wonderful craft skills. Their investment has certainly paid off. The experience of watching this ad was every bit as beautiful as I imagine a mouthful of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Bubbly to be. This ad just feels so British at its best. Sure, it's a little traditional, but that's what Cadbury is. Believe me, when you can't get British tradition every day, you don't half miss it. Well done, lads. You just brought me home.
Now, any chance you can send me a box of the stuff?
Thanks for reading.