19 April 2012
I like people with eyes that see awkward beauty in things around us. I like to look for things to like in things we're not supposed to like or love. Especially in work, because it often means you've taken another journey to get to a place that is your own, and not down a familiar path. Repeating yourself as a creative is the cardinal sin. Comfort and success are your enemies. Knowing nothing and a gun at your head are your best friends. OK, here we go ...
EDF Energy. A seemingly happy piece of film reimaging the YouTube dancing robot hit Keepon as a brand mascot for EDF and better energy. The spot is upbeat and easy on the eye. The most interesting thing with this spot is the choice of music, and here also is where it makes a turn to the dark. Not only is Together In Electric Dreams one of the most annoying and forgettable songs by the otherwise brilliant lead singer of The Human League, Phil Oakey, and the producer Giorgio Moroder, the plot of the 80s movie it was written for - Electric Dreams - is forgettable as well. It's about a "love triangle" between a San Francisco couple and a computer named Edgar. The movie ends with Edgar committing suicide by electric overload where he finally short-circuits himself into a piece of computer junk. It's stupid but enjoyable, if you like stupid, enjoyable stuff. Just like this commercial.
John Lewis+. Another beautiful life story from the furniture retailer John Lewis. This one tells the story of "Tom+" as he shares his life on Google+ while the actor Benedict Cumberbatch reads The Seven Ages Of Man from Shakespeare's As You Like It. Seriously, this is way off. Wrong insight. Wrong work. Wrong everything. Makes Google+ look like a nostalgic digital version of a Hallmark ad. Google isn't cute. Google is a damn algorithm that organises my life. Please, don't make Google human. Keep it cold, Russian and mysterious.
Audi. This commercial for the A5 takes a trip down memory lane with a classy retelling of a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. The spot recreates 30s Europe to show the evolution of the pioneering coupe from ugly duckling to today's "new aerodynamic" model. No wonder the retelling of this classic Danish story is so intimate and well-crafted: the spot was directed by the Danish-born Joachim Back. The tone, the pacing and the simplicity of this ad - beautiful.
NSPCC. This spot ends up being pretty powerful, but starts off wobbly when the super tells us "the dollars #*! that kids say". Why not spell it out when it's an online execution? I'm sure these kids have heard a lot worse. The spot progresses to a powerful place when child after child goes from random observations such as "My nana's skin doesn't really fit her face" to heart-wrenching statements they innocently repeat such as "I'm a mistake". The minute-and-a-half execution meanders a bit initially. The second half is incredible.
Adidas. I am a gorilla when I play basketball. I am a monkey when I eat a banana. No. This doesn't make sense. The colours are nice. One guy is walking funny. But there is no ending. It starts, it continues, but it never seems to stop. Does that make sense? No, it doesn't. Everything you do has to make sense. Otherwise, it doesn't make sense. It's like cream coming out of the TV. Adidas Cream. Nice-coloured Gorilla Cream.
BBC. Apologies, as I am being deluged by pop-culture references of the past, but it opens like a cheap version of Se7en with an Ultravox video. Then, we're into Phantom Of The Opera. A difficult but noble brief it is to try to make Shakespeare accessible and popular with the non-Chablis-drinking chattering classes. But, then again, they are probably too busy documenting their life on Google+, where all the world is a stage.
Well, this is all rather peculiar. My first Private View written from outside the ad industry.
I stopped work a month ago and, for various contractual reasons my lawyers have asked me not to elaborate upon, I am currently not allowed to earn money via the trade I have been plying for the past 26 years.
It's an interesting position to be in. Especially when it comes to writing a piece like this - it may be illegal for me to make ads, but there's nothing to say I can't write about them.
So here goes ...
As anyone will tell you: I love trainers. Which makes the prospect of creating an ad for them at any time, let alone right now, incredibly appealing. It also makes the plot for the Adidas ad clear to me. It's a modern-day love story: young man meets the kicks of his dreams. (Yes, in the end, he hooks up with some hot chick but, let's face it, girls aren't like sneakers: unconditionally supportive.) Oddly, though, despite its incisive insight into the human condition, the campaign doesn't leave me resentful over not being able to have made it. The significance of the daemon-like "auras" escapes me. And while such cross-channel connectivity is clearly to be applauded, I doubt the aura I was encouraged to create on the brand's microsite will be gracing my Facebook Timeline any time soon.
The EDF Energy ad stars Keepon, the autism therapy aid turned YouTube phenomenon. The energy company has given the little fellow a quiff and filmed him dancing on and around various household electrical appliances to Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's Together In Electric Dreams. It's terribly charming. My current creative department, Felix and Gigi, especially loved it, and they're stern critics.
Google has made some fantastic films in its short history. The biopic mini-documentaries for its Chrome browser featuring the true-life success stories of Jamal Edwards and Justin Bieber were energetic, awe-inspiring product demos of the power of the web. Its latest ad for its challenger to Facebook, Google+, takes a different route. It may get criticised by adland insiders for being similar to the lovely "always a woman" ad from the same agency a few years ago but, in the real world, viewers don't fail to warm to the spectacle of a life lived out over a matter of seconds.
It's funny hearing children repeating the stuff they hear the grown-ups around them say. Unless the stuff they're repeating is indicative of an abusive family life. That's the insight behind the online film for the NSPCC. It's chilling. But it doesn't quite make me scream to have made it like the Barnardo's work does. So sue me! (Oops. Possible wrong use of language there.)
I bloody love the BBC. Not least for all the amazing opportunities it has offered me to practice my craft in recent years. This is a massive year for the Beeb. As well as the Olympics, in the coming months it's going to be broadcasting a cornucopia of world-class content. And each of those programmes needs equally world-class trails and title sequences made for them. For one of Auntie's first offerings, the Shakespeare season, the agency makes spectacular use of the no doubt minuscule budget it was given and has created a richly textured trail.
The commercial for the Audi A5 tells an ugly duckling story. It centres around a brave but admittedly hideous early attempt by the manufacturer's engineers at aerodynamics and the poor thing's fierce rejection by the public. This ad makes my mouth water. It's a simple, clean idea, immaculately produced in every way. It almost makes me want to shove my contract through the shredder, rush out there and start working right now. Almost. (Don't worry, legal team, my front door is firmly locked. From the inside.)
Damon Collins is currently drumming his fingers waiting to start a business with his friend Richard Exon