27 September 2012
The elation was short-lived when we were asked to write this week's Private View. Just over a year into our first jobs in advertising, and already we're setting ourselves up for career suicide. So, in an effort to try to keep our future employability intact, we decided (not for the first time) that we'd ask our mums to do it for us. Take it away, mums ...
Radox. Lewis' mum: It looked quite nice and I was interested at first, but I found it pretty dull as it went on. I didn't find it funny.
Alex's mum: The message of fun is very loud and very clear, and you can't help but grin at the retro garish animation. Sillychedelic shower-power.
Cravendale. LM: Loved it. Makes me chuckle and it kept me interested. The narrator is brilliant. I'm not sure why, but I did come away feeling that I would be more inclined to opt for Cravendale in the future.
AM: Being a fan of the first Cravendale campaign, I felt somehow disappointed by this one. I thought it tried too hard. Not as fun as the last ad, a little too long and the cats aren't wicked enough to retain my full attention. A near miss for me, sadly.
Dairylea. AM: Not sure about the Just William-ish nostalgia of this campaign. Who has seen such a gentle gathering of kids in a playground in the past 30 years? Who still makes lemonade? Has anybody ever seen a fridge so spotless? I got the message about nutrition, but it seemed a bit too cutesy to me.
LM: To be honest, I just didn't care. I didn't like the fact that you couldn't see the kids' faces - there was nothing to draw you in. Also, I'm not sure why the ability to put empty packaging back in the fridge is a selling point.
Plan. AM: For me, this is too politically shy. This weakens the message and the issues are far too important to avoid being confrontational. Otherwise, I quite like the last simple image of Frieda's raised hand. But it is far from being punchy enough, and you would need more than Frieda's hand to deliver the punch.
LM: This made me think. I liked how it didn't try to put any guilt on you like so many of these things do. Showing happy children made me feel good about the charity. It was easy to understand, I related to the girls and came away thinking about these young women's futures.
Marks & Spencer. AM: The best fashion ad for M&S I've seen for ages. Like the Dove ad, they've used women of all shapes and ages, yet they have sharpened the edges. It seems more youthful, more urban and less mumsy. All in all, it works for me.
LM: It's great to see an ad for a clothes shop that features women you might actually meet in a clothes shop. The music is really catchy, the clothes look good and it has a good range of real women. I've got to say they got it right.
Adidas. AM: I don't know who the guy is, but he must be famous, otherwise no kid would bully his own parents to get those trainers. They are so ugly that you might as well bring in a Rasta who must surely have smoked his weight in grass to want to wear them in the company of a lion-monster.
LM: The graphics were great but, I have to admit, I didn't have a clue what was going on. I don't understand why Snoop Dogg has got someone dressed as a waiter to deliver him trainers to a roof (Quite impressed that my mum knows who Snoop Dogg is - LB). I thought it would explain what the monster was, but it didn't. It wasn't for me, but I doubt it was supposed to be.
Nice one, mums.
I think before getting on with the surreal task of writing my own Private View, I should come clean ...
I watch a lot of cat videos. It's not serious, I can stop whenever I like, but it does mean there's a certain campaign this week that has a distinct advantage, as I'm guaranteed to love it. It doesn't mean I'll necessarily hate the catless campaigns, but it does mean they're fighting an uphill battle.
But let's continue and try to avoid making too many cat puns along the way.
So, the first work failing to include cats is Dairylea, but I like it nonetheless. You would find it hard not to be won over by these sweet little spots featuring, as they do, kids reaching, squishing and generally messing about with the cheesy triangles. It reassures me that there is a world beyond Mr Cheese and it's a world based on a real understanding of how people play with their products.
Adidas couldn't be less innocent and childlike or, indeed, less cat-like, as it features the canine-monikered Original Gangsta, Snoop Dogg. There's a pounding bassline, photogenic Foot Locker employee and giant smoky monster, presumably emanating from the weed-addled mind of Mr Dogg himself. I could listen to Snoop's languorous voice all day, but I just didn't really get this ad. But maybe there's nothing to get: you either buy into this surreal snapshot of urban life or you don't. As a wearer of suede loafers, I'm possibly not the best person to be commenting on trainers.
I was more affected by Plan's ad, which succeeds in its mission to get us thinking about the plight of girls. When advertising needs to alert us to the plight of others and solicit an action, it needs to snap us out of our apathy. And, while you can do this through shock tactics or new statistics, here we see you can also equally lay bare the injustice in its starkest form: it's for no reason other than "because I am a girl".
Marks & Spencer continues on its journey from high-street pariah to hip fashion brand, and this ad manages to make the chain feel both younger and true to its core shopper. Executionally, it's watchable, and yet I can't help feeling this is a bit 90s Gap. Though, here, the choice to exclude cats altogether is, I'd argue, probably a wise one.
The same cannot be said for Radox. I think we can all agree that a cat showering is just the kick up the behind this brand needs. Strategically, the move away from female indulgence to the morning wake-up feels smart. Indulgence always felt like a red herring to me, for a brand whose primary function is getting you ready for the day. But I struggle to see how bringing Facebook statuses to life delivers on that strategy. Surely you would do something contextual around the morning routine?
Which, of course, brings us on to Cravendale - proof, if proof were needed, that there is not a category in the world that is too dull to have life injected into it with creativity. It's milk! The brilliant thing about the Cravendale strategy is the understanding that, more than any other fridge product, milk is consumed by the whole family, so making populist, memorable advertising that appeals to mum and kids alike is right. So, too, is The X Factor launch context as a way to embed Cravendale into family life.
It is also now a platform that allows Cravendale to sidestep the onerous task of finding "engaging milk content" to populate its social media presence with. It should be congratulated for buying itself a licence to just post cat videos on Facebook all day, which not only seems to be generating much higher engagement rates, but must be a hell of a lot more fun for the agency.