05 July 2012
What can you say about Cannes?
There's no recession on the Croisette, that's for sure.
Craigen's still up to his old tricks, and what about that Grand Prix? Er, hello? And ... oh yeah - The Carlton? The Rip-Off-Ton, more like.
Actually, I didn't go, but it's editorial policy to refer to Cannes in the Private View that follows it.
Anyway, back to Blighty and this week's work.
Who would have thought that the "reconstituted bits of old animal" category would become such a fertile ground for freewheeling creativity? Hot on the heels of the Wall's mumbling dog ads comes this ad for Mattessons. It features a whole school of kids on their way home; they're ringers for Hank Marvin.
As a Hank gets home, his mum asks: "You must be Hank Marvin?" She then gives the poor unfortunate child a stick of reconstituted bits of old animal. Hey presto, he's back in non-Hanksville.
It's different, cool, and campaignable too: you've got everyone from Lee Marvin to Marvin Gaye ("I bet you're starvin', ay?"). Oh, and superbly produced (production company-side).
Over the course of 90 seconds, we see a girl age, eventually ending up an old lady. She couldn't follow her heart and become an athlete, but the National Lottery grants have made it possible for her daughter to follow her dream.
It's very well-observed, emotional and does a very good job of humanising the National Lottery sports grants. But, as it went through the ages, it reminded me just how much times have changed.
Anything with a vaguely familiar feel or idea would result in a whole line of excited people queuing up to tell you that "it's been done!" - it meant your idea was dead. The client wouldn't risk misattribution, the agency wouldn't risk looking impotent. But I've always liked the Coco Chanel quote: "If you think your work is original, you don't have a good memory, schmuck!" (Or something like that.)
Should an agency withhold the most powerful idea in favour of a "fresher", but slightly less powerful, idea? It's a difficult question.
But, today, an ad becoming famous is justification of the idea, as if it's a proven idea, so why risk unproven? Sometimes the original is used in a mood tape to sell the copy, so there's no subterfuge.
But, ultimately, I find it impossible to watch this ad without thinking about John Lewis or Volkswagen.
In the Phones 4u ad, a variety of misfits and n'er-do-wells ask the lighting cameraman if he's sure that they're entitled to a free phone upgrade. One of them isn't even with Phones 4u - it turns out that even they are entitled, as the upgrade is for everyone.
"Upgrades 4u and u and u." It's dead clear.
As you would expect from a company with a name like Moo.com, it is taking the high ground. Various entrepreneurs explain the ideas behind their companies. "Anyone can be an entrepreneur, start something remarkable." Get a piece of cardboard with your name printed on it and, bingo, you're on your way to Bransonville!
Here's one thing that will always be true - it's a man's duty to carry whatever is within a car to his front door in a single trip: "Yorkie. Man fuel for man stuff." It's an observation I definitely relate to, and the first of many, I'm sure.
On first viewing, I presumed the "sneaker skills" on show in the Foot Locker ad belonged to the guys at The Mill, but it turns out it was done in one take. Shop workers kick and flip boxes and sneakers around, Harlem Globetrotters-style. It feels like a Saturday boy has filmed it on his phone, then uploaded it on to Facebook. I mean that in a good way.
It leaves me pondering three questions: what's the value of originality? What's the next category to explode creatively? What will that Jonty get up to at the Gutter Bar next year? He's such a card.
Mattessons now makes something called Fridge Raiders. Good name. With a six-year-old son constantly slamming the fridge door of ours, leaving the detritus of Scooby-Doo magnets scattered in his wake, I see the potential. Would I be happy if he emerged each time with a reconstituted chicken-breast-thing hanging from his chops? Not so sure. But I sound like Jamie now, so I'll shut up.
The ad is fun. I should probably do this in rhyming slang, but I can't be bottle and glassed. Kids dressed as Hank Marvin (if I have to explain what Marvin means, then it doesn't work) all heading home from school playing Apache on their Stratocasters. After a Fridge Raider, the hero returns to his normal self. Hank no more.
Lovely idea, but I wish it looked fresher. More Azealia Banks, less high-street bank.
The National Lottery tells me it is "life-changing". No crap, Cumberbatch. But, this time, it's not in a "here's 13 million quid, go and drown yourself in Ciroc" sort of way, rather something more worthy: a story inspired by the mother of Jenny Meadows who, thanks to Lottery funding, now runs the 800 metres.
I'm probably in the minority here, but I just don't buy it. Sorry. I know it means well and all that, but the ITV drama-esque styling puts it across as contrived and faintly patronising. Why not just show me the real deal? Imperfect but genuine. Something I can believe in. Sometimes our job is to step aside and let the truth speak for itself.
Apparently, I can upgrade my phone at Phones 4u whether I'm a Jedward fan, vegan, skinny-dipper, courier, gnome-groper, bloke with a bike, blonde with big tits. OK. Thanks for letting me know.
The next ad for Moo.com (it makes remarkable business cards for remarkable businesses) should talk to my entrepreneurial streak. And it does. Aside from the word "remarkable" (really, does anyone say "remarkable" these days?), I like this.
Connecting Moo.com to a wider community of modern, successful entrepreneurs, such as the founder of Moshi Monsters, is smart and gives its relatively old-fashioned product a shot in the arm. I like its blog too - the way it talks with pride about its ad, and its agency, and its customer, all in the same sentence. There's a touch of Innocent about it.
I don't envy anyone trying to pull off a "chocolate for hard-working men" strategy in this day and age. What is a "man", anyway? Not physiologically, obviously, but sociologically. It's a cliche minefield (is that a cliche?).
One way is to be proper funny, but that's easier said than done, and I'm afraid this Yorkie (4) ad falls short. I bet there were loads of good scripts presented which, for this reason or that, didn't make it through and so we're left with a bloke carrying the shopping for his missus, Die Hard-style. The bloke comes across as a twat. The woman smug. And I'm left with no-one to like. So I'll probably just carry on gently nibbling gay Walnut Whips for now.
And, finally, Foot Locker. A great idea about its staff moving product around the shop floor using their keepy-uppy skills - the sort of script you get shown as a creative director and sigh with relief. Sorted.
But someone dropped the ball. It has ended up not knowing what it is - neither epic nor real. Did they actually do it? Apparently, it took 300 takes to get it right, but this was lost on me. I didn't want to watch it again like Rooney and the Coke can. And at sneakerskills.com? A Facebook page. Hmmm. I would like to have seen the employee auditions, at least.
Can't help thinking what would Spike Jonze have done with a script like this. Probably won next year's Grand Prix.