12 July 2012
We at DDB around the globe, and certainly at Adam & Eve/DDB, believe great advertising happens when you find or create a relevant truth, when you communicate it in a fresh and intelligent way and when you have a deep respect towards the people you are communicating to. It was the foundation of the so-called creative revolution and it's even more valid today than it was back then.
So is advertising art? No. Is it science? No. It's the notion that, if you merge humanity, creativity and technology, you can build brands and shape markets and change things for the better. It's a very high bar, but it's the only objective bar you can get in a business that is so dominated by subjective views.
In terms of the BBC ad, you cannot talk of great advertising. I'm missing the relevant truth and I am missing an amazing execution that elevates the idea to a higher level.
Sainsbury's has a relevant truth, but it is missing to deliver it in a fresh way. And the point at the end is far from what actually was, maybe, at a beginning, a great idea.
Honda and Wieden & Kennedy were setting the bar in car advertising higher and higher, but something happened in the past couple of years. They still have great insights, but they lost the magic to deliver that in an unseen way. But, nevertheless, it's still one of the better ads in the car category.
Wayne Rooney didn't play a good role at Euro 2012. The same happened with Nike (3) and its communication around the event: no relevant truth. No fresh execution. No involvement.
As for the Genius print ad - no food in the world loves you back. The problem with the ads is not the creative execution, it's the fact that nobody was thinking deep enough to find a relevant truth.
Lexus reminds you that you should not confuse ideas with execution. Creating amazing is something different to a nicely crafted ad - but the campaign has just started, so you never know.
As a summary: could they make it better? Yes. But it's easier to say that if you are not involved. But if we would all stick to the only wisdom in our business, which is the fact that we are not in the ad industry but in the industry of making things relevant, we would certainly produce more substance, more brilliance and more great advertising.
First up - that BBC Wimbledon trailer featuring the post-production device de nos jours: live labelling. Sherlock, it seems, has been spawning brainstorms. Though your correspondent's always happy to contemplate slow-motion groundstrokes from mesmerising athletes, this execution feels like a neat trick in search of a creative treatment. And it ends up missing the essential point: that just one of Maria Sharapova's swelegant, elegant running forehands says all this stuff already, but with rather more concision and grace.
Next up, Sainsbury's - and after finding much recent supermarket advertising as irritating as a Wimbledon lady-grunt, a relief to discover that this is, by some distance, the class act of the week. A beautifully cast minor classic that - especially if you were ever a small child yourself - sidles into your head and curls up on the settee. Its trick, mostly, is ditching the cliches. So no everyday price check versus our nearest competitor. No celebrity chef preparing a delicious occasion-based recipe for eight for just £3.39. No Lionel Bart supporting cast featuring compulsory cheeky urchin and a strangely porcine butcher in a little hat. And no comely housewife with a disturbingly low blink rate looking just about ready to drag our hero into the detergents aisle and baste him there and then.
I couldn't get enough of what it hadn't got. And while the plot lacks the wonderful twist of John Lewis' Christmas cracker, this is price-promise advertising done with style. Or, as my own eight-year-old once put it: "The best thing since life's bread."
Next up, Honda, which, it seems, has been seeking inspiration on AskNature.com. Biomimicry - or borrowing engineering solutions from the natural world - is a hot topic for car manufacturers right now. Nissan is even investigating swarming cars, designed to follow the same mathematical algorithms that miraculously stop schooling fish from banging into one another. I enjoyed these films; in fact, I've enjoyed every Honda TV ad for quite a while now. But, after yet another scarcely Hitchcockian cameo from the product itself, I look forward to its attempt, finally, to crack the Big One: an iconic Honda television ad with a Honda in it.
On to Nike, which, in an enlightened departure, has forsaken its traditional football championship blockbuster for a stripped-down, stylish effort starring Wayne Rooney's face. A courageous casting decision that, predictably, ends up confounding it. History has tried bloody hard to teach us that running any campaign just before a tournament starring Wazza - and most especially one with a strap-line like "My time is now" - is just asking for trouble; and, sure enough, after his Ukrainian travails, the first sight of him only had me rueing the day I ever handed back my Double-O licence and Walther PPK. When it comes to conveying subtle emotional turmoil in tight close-up, Wayne is clearly no Sinead O'Connor. And his plucky attempt to suggest, in a single expression, the simultaneous presence of scarcely shackled inner demons, searing ambition and granite determination only ends up looking like a man being brave while having his prostate checked.
So to Genius' talking bread loaf. Charming art direction and commendably gluten-free copy. All likeable stuff - not exactly underwhelming, but hardly overwhelming either. Whelming, perhaps? And anthropomorphising food products only makes me feel a bit less like eating them.
Finally, Lexus. I'm a sucker for this million-miles-in-a-minute, road-as-metaphor-for-life type stuff. These days, you don't just drive your car, you wear it; and this slickly impressionistic, Jack-Kerouac-reimagined-by-Ridley-Scott number is right up my A Road. Things have clearly moved on since a Ford vans research debrief I once attended, where detailed analysis of the target audience prompted a client suggestion that the most viable strapline was probably: "Don't be a c*nt. Buy a Transit."
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