25 October 2012
Charm. As a weapon in our advertising armoury, it's remarkably disarming. A charming brand can relieve you of your hard-earned cash without you even knowing it; you might even thank them for it.
So, how do this week's contestants fare in the charm stakes?
First up is a spot for Cow & Gate, which it has called "category- defining" - a pretty arrogant and rather uncharming claim, if you ask me. In the spot, we see a cute bunch of kids turning up at a recording studio and playing Dexys Midnight Runners' Come On Eileen. It all finishes with the end thought: "Feed their personalities. Cow & Gate." Now, as a piece of film, this could charm the knickers off a nun. I'm just not sure that it's "category-defining".
NatWest's new campaign promises a new tone of voice for a high-street bank. Up until now, I've thought the line of "Helpful banking" has been stronger than the work it delivered. The new spot is all about its new emergency cash service. In it, we see nicely observed moments of people losing their credit cards and using NatWest's new cash service. This may not be the most original script, but it's so well-directed, and executed in such a charming way, that you can't help but warm to the bank, which is a feat in itself in the current climate.
You'd think doing a campaign for Facebook would be a dream brief. Sadly, it hasn't really worked out that way. I think the scenario might have gone a bit like this: Wieden & Kennedy pitches for Facebook and presents one of those rather self-important mood films (c'mon, we've all done them). The pitch is won, hurrah! Then that nightmare moment we all dread happens - the client calls and says: "We loved that mood film so much, we want to make it." And that's when charm walked out the room.
I have to admit, I'm not really much of a golfer. I tried it once and it really didn't agree with me - a bit like tripe. I did, however, get caught up in watching bits of this year's Ryder Cup. So I watched Saatchi & Saatchi's new spot for the European Tour with a newly found sense of excitement. It is a four-minute online film that pits top golfers against the magician DMC. This film scores quite well on the charm scale. You really warm to the players and DMC's tricks are pretty nifty.
You just can't beat a good old-fashioned jingle. Not my thoughts, but it's obviously what every single online market-comparison site believes in wholeheartedly. MySupermarket.com is no exception. It presents us with a fridge full of eggs singing about the benefits to the tune of Men Of Harlech. Although reasonably charming, I'm not sure it has the madness of some of the others and so is probably not quite as memorable.
Finally, some posters for McCain Home Chips. I'm fond of the personality Beattie McGuinness Bungay has built up for McCain over the years: a kind of cheeky chappy of the chip world. I'm not sure these have the charm or wit that has been at the heart of the previous work, which is a shame.
In the words of Oscar Wilde: "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
Charmed, I'm sure.
It's that time of year again, when the big campaigns start rolling out as advertisers begin softening up the nation's shoppers for the long march to Christmas. Autumn always feels like you've got to work that bit harder to cut through. Everything feels a bit more frantic, everyone's distracted, schools have gone back, work's going full tilt, Yuletide festivities and shopping loom ever earlier. So it's good to see some big, simple ideas in this week's postbag. The kind of ideas that tap into why you might love a product or brand; ideas that demand to be noticed.
First up ... chips. But not just any chips, the nation's chips. You get the impression that Beattie McGuinness Bungay loves chips and, when it comes to McCain, it just gets it. It has carved out what feels like an unassailable position for McCain on British shopping lists. No pandering to health lobbies or 21st-century neurotics, just big, confident, colourful, populist love of chips. The TV work for McCain has always been brash and hearty and, now, so is the outdoor. A series of bold posters extolling the joyful expectation of chips for tea.
I'm definitely more excited by chips than I am by the European Tour. I'm always amazed by how many golf nuts there are in our industry. Golf seems to have all of the trappings you would least associate with a supposedly creative, edgy and largely urban industry. When I think of golf, I just think of Bruce and Tarby, leisurewear and simmering suburban hatred inspired by the Daily Mail. However, the creators of this lovely short film clearly love golf - they think it's magic and that its best practitioners are magicians. If you love golf, you'll love this ... not only do you get neat magic tricks, but you get to meet some golfing heroes in a way that feels up close and personal.
Which brings me to this week's gem from Cow & Gate - a beautifully shot, charmingly performed celebration of babies, toddlers and their creativity. This must be good, because I loathe Come On Eileen and this spot makes it wonderful. Enough said.
Next up is a price-comparison site. This deals with something we all love ... a bargain. This spot for mySupermarket.com has all of the "can't keep it in" joy of a good bargain. It could have been a dull comparison message, or hectoring, crude and annoying like plenty of its competitors. Instead, it's fun and effective. It tells me exactly what it does and why it's better, but in a way that's exuberant and memorable - a chorus of lovable animated eggs singing about great grocery prices to the tune of Men Of Harlech. Well, men and women of Rathbone Place, well done.
NatWest emergency cash is a great service and this ad wastes no time getting in there and telling you about it. There are some slightly bland lifestyle vignettes and an equally unmemorable music track (what happened to the one that was doing very well before?). But you're left in no doubt how useful and thoughtful this big bank is trying to be.
And, finally, a spot that has been dividing opinion. Well, not at all, actually - opinion seems pretty unanimous. Those folk at Wieden & Kennedy would have us believe that Facebook is like chairs. True to a point: stay too long and your bum goes numb. This definitely numbed me. It's a tough brief: how do you get your conceptual and creative arms round a phenomenon such as Facebook - something that millions of people experience and enjoy every day? Well, let's humbly compare it to something very humble - the chair. This false modesty sits uncomfortably alongside footage that looks like all of those other big, bombastic, globally bloated ads you see for handsets and IT companies - and it has the same plinky-plonky music. And then the veil slips totally and modesty evaporates and the full throbbing corporate ego is revealed ... fuck chairs, Facebook is like the universe: vast, awesome and (they don't say this) all-knowing.
Which is why it's surprising it hasn't used its intergalactic omnipotence to stop the wonderful "Toilets are like Facebook" spoof currently running on YouTube.