02 August 2012
When Campaign called me and asked if I could write Private View, they said it was a bit of a mixed bag, but there was one outstanding piece.
Now, I've had a look through all the work and it's not such a bad mix of work at all - actually, there are a couple of pieces that are rather good. So, now I'm worried. Am I going to pick a different ad from Campaign?
First, let's start where I really hope Campaign and I can agree. The new campaign for Tourism Ireland (3) is not one of my favourites of this week's picks. It is an online film that comes from quite an interesting strategy: that a holiday in Ireland is a good alternative to the hell that will be London transport this summer. And, as someone who spent two hours on the A40 this morning while they opened the Olympic lane, I get it. However, the execution lacks a bit of Irish charm.
Next is a spot for Virgin Media. It's the latest in the "keep up" campaign, this time talking about its new TiVo box. Now, I have to put my hand up and say that I have more than a passing interest here, as we used to work on Virgin Media and know how hard it is to land all the brilliant things on TiVo. This piece, with the evercharismatic Stephen Fry, does a pretty good job.
The McDonald's "just passing by" was a great piece of advertising. Its new spot for the Olympics builds on that same tone and feel. I know there has been a lot of controversy about whether or not McDonald's should be allowed to be an Olympic sponsor at all, but this ad is beautifully observed and the voiceover oozes all the wit of the original.
There is another short film for Shift.ms, the multiple sclerosis charity. It is a love story that takes us on the emotional journey of someone coming to terms with the early stages of MS. It's a really touching piece that does challenge perceptions with the lightest of touches and some fine writing. My worry here is the same as I have with a lot of these short films: do people really have enough time in their busy day to watch them?
Now we are coming to the part where I feel I may fail Campaign's test. I think the next piece from Credit Suisse was their Pick of the Week a couple of weeks ago. It's another short film, this time advertising Credit Suisse's sponsorship of a new exhibition at The National Gallery. The plot is pretty out there. A man sees Anna Friel naked in the bath and gets all horny. She then eats him at a dinner party. This is apparently inspired by Titian's famous Diana And Actaeon. It's a very cool piece of film. Whether or not anyone watches it, I have no idea. However, I'm sure those award juries with a bit of time on their hands will love it.
Finally, to my favourite of this week's picks: the Channel 4 trail for the Paralympics. When I first started watching this, I was a little cynical. It has some Paralympians doing their stuff to a great track by Public Enemy. Then the film changes direction and shows us the devastating moments they became disabled. It's a very powerful and moving piece of film, brilliantly edited and put together. And the thought of "meet the superhumans" is truly excellent. As you may have gathered, I think it is very, very good. I hope you did too, Campaign.
Furious? I'm absolutely raging.
I had this all planned. I was going to start by saying that I fully understand how much work goes into the worst ads, but that doesn't make it OK that they exist. I was going to say that I understand the account exec is probably really excited about their first ad getting made, but that doesn't get in the way of it being rubbish. There was going to be a whole thing about how we, as an industry, as suits, strats, creatives and whoever else you care to mention, have to try harder, and we have to accept that "good enough" just isn't good enough. It was going to be one of those Private Views.
And then 4Creative went and made something utterly magnificent and ruined all of that. And now I don't know what sort of Private View it's going to be. We'll see.
So, the five things that aren't the Paralympics spot.
Tourism Ireland (3) has made a thing with Chris O'Dowd. I like him. I'm less fond of this, though, because it's too long, not funny enough and more laden with cliche than a leprechaun dancing a jig in a pint of Guinness. At a ceilidh.
Virgin Media (2) has made an ad with Stephen Fry in it because, God knows, we all needed one of those. It has been ages. (NB. It has not been ages, and we did not need another ad with Stephen Fry in it.)
McDonald's (5) has made an ad. It's all about its in-no-way-inappropriate sponsorship of the Olympics. I like McDonald's and I like its advertising; I'm also very excited about the Olympics, so this one is cheating a little bit. Anyway. Olympics + cheeseburger = Happy Dan = this Private View lark is EASY.
Credit Suisse (4). I'll be honest, I shuddered before I clicked on the link for this one (I'm only human). But I needn't have worried, because it's not an ad for an investment bank, it's an ad for an investment bank's sponsorship of The National Gallery, and it has got Anna Friel in it, and it's creepy and beautiful and really rather wonderful, so you can all just chill out, yeah?
And Shift.ms (6). It's ten minutes long. Am I allowed to be rude about advertising for such a good cause? Probably not. Oh, well. It's a classy piece of film, but I'm not entirely sure I'd have watched all of it if I didn't have to - and that's a pity.
And, so, the main event - Channel 4 (1). The caveats first: they've got the luxury of making it as long as it needs to be, not as long as the media agency can afford it to be, and I can't fight the feeling that it would have been better (screw you, I'm demanding) if they'd given the backstory moments a little bit more time, but, let's be honest, I'm being churlish.
This is advertising as it should be. It's brave, it's gut-wrenching, it's long, but there's not a wasted shot in there. The writing is brilliant, the cinematography is brilliant, the performances are brilliant and the music is REALLY brilliant. And, as the slew of anodyne, saccharine, BORING Olympics-related work that we're currently being subjected to demonstrates, there isn't even a "well, it's an easy brief, innit" excuse. They've just nailed it.
So, I'm still furious. But largely because somebody has made an ad that I wish I'd made. And that's probably a pretty good thing.