One of the problems with writing Private View is that it's not very private and, if you are making your views public, you don't want them to be based on preconceptions.
But it's tough. You get the ads, skim through the agencies - a bunch of preconceptions set in right there. The Mother ad's probably funnier than McCann's one - that kind of thing (sorry, Nic). Then you check the client list - another layer of preconceptions. Finally, the people - she's brilliant, he's a moron, I thought he was dead, she bakes a good sponge. It's a nightmare.
Being aware that all this stuff is colouring my view, I'll try to logic my way into levelling the playing field. With facts such as Grey isn't peddling the filth it was when I first got into the business - it did that Vinnie Jones heart ad that I liked. And Mother isn't the reactionary new kid on the block - it's huge; probably bigger than Grey, for Chrissake.
So, Mother and HTC. I'm guessing it's two parts funny, one part hip. Wrong! It's a five-minute product demo. A young American dude with a particularly cool hairdo prepares to do a fashion shoot in midair. We go through the associated challenge: what dress could stand the wind turbulence etc? Then we see him achieve it. It's three parts "cool", two parts "demo", with a dash of "reality" mixed in. I leave it thinking the camera on the HTC is probably good.
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Walkers. Well, I'm going out on a limb here: but I'm guessing it involves Lineker? Horsing around with a celebrity or members of the public? Bingo! It's a formula, but it's a formula that has made Walkers one hell of a pile of cash.
Adam & Eve and lastminute.com. Tricky. Lastminute.com generally does shouty offer ads; Adam & Eve has done some really good emotional stuff lately. The posters are not quite one thing or another. There's an offer, but it's got the word "from" in it. I'm not a big fan of the word "from" when it's sat next to a number.Does anyone really believe they'll get what's in the picture for the number next to the "from"? Take the offer away and you're left with a list of things that most reasonable hotels offer. If you're called lastminute.com, surely you have to go with it, appeal to the unorganised, the worried-they-may-be-paying-over-the-odds, people afraid of commitment etc.
The Red Brick Road and Tesco. Er ... prices pinging, famous voiceover and a witty sign-off? Kerwrong! A women's outfit changes magically with every door she walks through. If the brief was "we need to show six outfits from next season's collection", it's an elegant solution.
McCann and Sony. Slick-looking product demo with a voiceover? Wrong! Little boys imagine how a Sony Xperia phone works. Their thoughts are illustrated in a really cool, homemade way. Kind of Blue Peter-stylee: "Xperia. Made of imagination." The kids have some ludicrous ideas about how phones work, so the films are very charming and endearing. (Come to think of it, how do smartphones work?) It's the yin to the HTC yang - all charm and emotion, nothing tangible. Given the choice of watching the HTC or Xperia ad again, I'd choose the Xperia. If I was offered the choice of phone from either set, I'd take the HTC.
Grey and Greene King. No preconceptions. The only thing that may colour my view is that we work with its bitter local rival, Adnams. We see various jolly people drink beer and smile in slow-motion accompanied by obligatory folk music: "Greene King. Crafted for the moment since 1777." I just don't believe "the moment" is ownable by Greene King.
So there we have it. Mother is doing product demos, McCann is doing crazy creative shit (I mean shit in a good way, like the kids say), lastminute.com is coming over like YearInAdvance and Tesco is running ads without dinging prices.
We're through the looking glass, people.
HTC. Is that Lady Gaga walking on to stage? Oh no, she's falling out of a plane! Such an adrenalin junkie! The music starts - it sounds like the deep throb of propellor rotors - and Gaga's now free-falling elegantly away. Is there no limit to her talents? Along for the ride comes her own personal lighting man - of course, she has to look good wherever she goes. But what's this? There's a young dude with the perfect haircut for free-falling at 126mph and he has his phone out. Paparazzi alert! Not any phone, mind you, but an HTC smartphone that can take video and photos in tandem. Then, unfortunately, this beautifully crafted ad comes crashing down to earth, for me, because it introduces us to him. His name is Nick the photography student and that isn't Gaga, it's his model - he's on his first-ever fashion shoot! Oh well, there you go. Back to the real world of make-believe with a bump.
Greene King. I've been to a number of pubs like the one in this urban village and, I too, on occasion, have moved around in slow-motion for most of the evening. Yes, it has usually been due to the same amounts of fine cask ale that these jolly folk have consumed in getting them in the mood to be this happy. The tune is memorable: it is melancholic and wistful and carries you around the high-spirited antics of these happy-go-lucky urbanites with their top buttons fastened and varying degrees of facial hair. On the whole, I was left feeling like I was in need of a bit of fresh country air, not city smog.
Walkers. It's always nice to have some crisps with my beer while watching Match Of The Day. Walkers has produced a baked crisp that is good for the waistline - result! With this ad, the brand uses its tried-and-tested formula of association with my favourite Saturday-night football show host to sell a new line to the more health-conscious crisp-eater among us. I didn't laugh.
Tesco. I have often wished that I could move from one sartorial combination to another just by walking from room to room; unfortunately, I'm not your average Tesco mum, who it would seem can do it all without breaking stride. There are a few nice little touches among the transitions in this ad, and I think the ad is right for this market. I would have loved to see more made of the cartoon quality, as the set looks rather confused.
Lastminute.com. Lastminute.com has changed its advertising direction away from its previous approach of spontaneity, which always looked like a fun time, to the brand's ethos of making the unattainable attainable. Now I feel that the well-shot colour ads are, while attempting to make the consumer appear heroic, in fact a little too much on the smug side.
Sony. I sometimes wonder to myself what makes a smartphone smart but, being a rather frugal individual, I have never had the nerve to open one up for my own curiosity, only to have to buy a new one when I realise my complete ineptitude at reassembling this little wonder of technology. Enter the new Sony Xperia and a clever kid called Jake Ryan, who happens to be eight and has the answers to my inquisitiveness. Tiny little robots - who would have thought it? The overall feeling of this ad is playful with some charming elements. The animated robots are a little cool and graphic for my liking, so a more naive quality would have completely endeared me to the ad.