31 May 2012
Volkswagen. Very nice. Nicely shot. Nicely acted. Nice scenarios. Nice point about the brand at the end. Nicely produced. It'll be a hit. Touch of the James Blunt about it. The Wisemen of the ad charts: "They got a semi by the sea."
BlackBerry. My mate George got one of those calls from a "company" trying to sell him bogus shares. Its big gambit was: "Listen, George, we're both men, yes? Let's do a man's deal." BlackBerry is trying the same tack: "Listen, consumer, you're a doer, right? Not like those other losers. Buy this phone. If you don't, you're a loser." I'm quite thick, but even I'm not falling for that one. The ad tells me nothing about the phone. If a kid with one GCSE in home economics can organise a full-scale fucking riot on one of these things, then there must be something interesting to say about it. Instead, we get another one of those ads where they split the screen and show an image on one side with a contrary image on the other side. The contrary images are clever and the film looks nice, though.
Kopparberg. Another brand short on things to say about the actual product, but saying them prettily. Apparently, if I don't buy this cider, I like knitting. And if I do buy it, I like running around in forests with lamp shades. S'cuse me while I cast on. (I'm knitting my boy a replica QPR kit to celebrate another season in the top flight.)
Marmite has produced a commemorative edition to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Called it Ma'amite. Funny. I might buy one. Save me forking out on the Franklin Mint dinner set for my missus. The label looks good and jumping on the Jubilee feels just right for this old favourite. This simple poster does the job. All those involved have earned their two days off.
Carlsberg has created an academy where football fans are trained by sporting celebs to be the best they can be during Euro 2012. More of the same old sponsorship twaddle and my heart sank when it came on, thinking of all the shit we're going to have to sit through this summer - and that's before the England game even starts. However, I have to say, I ended up rather enjoying this film. It's well-done, the cameos work nicely and there are plenty of decent gags. They pulled it off. Not sure I'd pass it on, but if I'm stuck in front of the telly, this will happily amuse me for 60 seconds.
Playboy shower gel. Another nicely shot film. Bumper crop this week. The odd funny bit too. Trouble is (and I'm not a reader, you understand), I thought Playboy was supposed to be a bit smarter or cooler or more daring than some other brands. If anyone could run a film to split the nation and get tongues wagging, it's Playboy. But take the name off the end and this could easily be an ad for Lynx.
Pernicketiness aside, I must say all the work this week represents something of a triumph in these lean creative times. A sign of better things to come, maybe.
Sentimentality is frowned upon for many reasons, not least because it is meant to be common, or at least indicative of a low-brow mentality. It is also said that people who are sentimental are actually hard-nosed, callous and fairly unpleasant underneath it all. Well, what can I say but bring it on! I am incredibly sentimental, which is why I love the Volkswagen Polo "stay in safe hands" commercial. This 90-second ad explores the relationship between a father and his daughter, from her birth to the day she leaves for university, and the denouement had me almost welling up. The ad tries to position Polo as a car you can trust to protect your loved ones, and I have to say that it works brilliantly. I am extremely grateful that neither of my daughters is at the age when I need to buy them cars because, if they were, I would no doubt have ordered two already.
Now, I have to say I love my BlackBerry. I use it every minute I am awake, and it even sits in the corner of my bedroom and wakes me up at 6.45 every day. I answer approximately 300 e-mails a day on it, write myself notes and even write columns on it (once, having flown to New York to interview Tony Bennett on a moment's notice, I wrote a 5,000-word article in the British Airways lounge at JFK on it). So, as an existing customer, I was completely underwhelmed by the BlackBerry "those who do" ad. Why? Well, first, I didn't understand it the first time I saw it, and when I read the explanation, I just thought it was badly executed. The ad shows what life is like with and without a BlackBerry, although the examples chosen to show what a BlackBerry-enhanced life looks like just look dull.
So often, the launch or relaunch of a drinks brand is based on the idea of nonconformity, otherness or youth. The new campaign for Kopparberg, the expensive Swedish cider, does exactly this, trying to capture the spirit of being "un-established". It does it fairly well - and no more than that. Also, personally speaking, I'm not a big fan of cider, but if I fancied drinking some, I would probably opt for something that sells itself as a "heritage" brand.
Talking of heritage, I love Marmite and love its new Jubilee "Ma'amite" ad. It's clever, funny, pithy and perfectly executed. I will definitely be spreading Marmite on my toast come the Jubilee.
I also love the Carlsberg "fan academy" ad, which has a sort of Italian Job feel to it. Having been to more than my fair share of England internationals, there is obviously a massive disconnect with reality (the ad thankfully doesn't show the England fans being instructed in the fine art of creating abusive chants), but the ad is funny, self-deprecating (on so many levels!) and actually rather original. And any football-oriented ad that doesn't feature the appalling John Terry has to be applauded.
Finally, we come to the Playboy "press to play" shower gel commercial, which I thought I would hate, but didn't at all. The cliched battle-of-the-sexes routine is an increasingly hard one to execute with any originality, yet this ad has enough wit to make it work. In fact, I'm being unfair, as it's actually very funny. I'm not convinced it's going to convince me to start using the product before I get into the lift at Vogue House, but I'm not going to switch over the next time I see the ad on TV. Which, I suppose, is half the battle.