28 February 2013
Growing up, one of my favourite comedians was Max Miller. One of my favourite Max Miller jokes goes like this: "I saw an ad in the paper. It said: ‘Lion Tamer Wanted.’ I thought how hard can that be? So I went along and the ringmaster said: ‘Have you got any experience?’
"I said: ‘Not really.’
"He said: ‘Well, it’s not difficult. Look, I’ll show you.’
"And he sent the lion-tamer’s assistant into the cage."She was a beautiful young girl with a gorgeous figure.
"Just then, a huge fierce lion ran into the cage roaring and charged straight at her.
"It opened its mouth with these enormous sharp teeth.
"Well, she was terrified, and she screamed so loud, guess what, all her clothes fell off.
"Now, the lion’s seen her standing there stark naked, and it’s stopped in its tracks.
"Then the lion started kissing her and licking her, very gently all over, from top to bottom.
"The ringmaster turned to me and he said: ‘Do you think you can do that?’
"I said: ‘Of course I can. Just get that lion out of there.’"
I like that joke because it’s about the way people’s minds work. We often get the wrong end of the stick; in this case, the wrong idea about what the job is. We all do that, especially in advertising.
The numbers are: £18.3 billion is spent every year on all forms of marketing and advertising in the UK. Of that, 4 per cent is remembered positively. Seven per cent is remembered negatively. And 89 per cent isn’t noticed or remembered. Because we’ve got the wrong idea about the job we’re supposed to be doing. So everyone’s concentrating on the details instead of the big picture.
Kronenbourg 1664's latest TV ad gets all the details right. Eric Cantona is a great choice for beer drinkers. The ad is really well-shot, with plenty of subtle looks to camera from Cantona.
Morrisons' ad features Ant & Dec. It’s well-shot with a nice little mullet joke and a seasick joke.
Macmillan Cancer Support is well-shot with lots of seamless CGI, illustrating the fact that cancer hits 889 people a day, and everyone who loves them.
Blue Dragon features a man who makes such great stir-fries that he becomes a legend.
And Digital Radio UK/BBC has made a three-minute music video. This was superbly shot and edited in every single detail. I watched it several times, it was so good. Just one problem. As far as I can tell, it didn’t mention the product once, not what it is or what it does. But then it wouldn’t. It was a music video, not an ad. So I couldn’t quite work out why I was being asked to crit it.
But I think that’s all part of the confusion about our jobs nowadays. No-one’s quite sure what it is we’re supposed to be doing. Whether we’re film-makers, designers, photographers, editors, musicians, researchers, strategists, storytellers, content-providers or client-butlers. That’s why, every year, 89 per cent of £18.3 billion isn’t noticed or remembered.
Everyone’s looking at every single little tiny detail, concentrating on it and worrying over it, and missing the big picture. I think we’ve all got the wrong idea about what the job is. I think we’re all saying: "Yes, I can do that. Just get the consumers out of there."
So, the Oscars have come and gone – and what a spectacular this year’s ceremony was, with perhaps one of the finest displays of talent, performance and storytelling on show ever. Sure, there was some inappropriate fashion, some cringeworthy hugging and kissing, and of course some meandering, booze-sodden speeches – but that’s just how we roll in the Quinn household this time of year. However, as much as this year’s ceremony had us all ogling and chatting, it was also a chance to be inspired.
The film industry today, like our own, faces ferocious, and perhaps fundamental, challenges and changes from all corners and perspectives, from technology changing the way films are produced and served, to the ever-increasing demands of originality, the art and craft of spinning yarns, to financing and justification against a backdrop of recession and depression. And that the likes of Lincoln, The Life Of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo have emerged, new leaders, new gold standards, to re-energise and revitalise this ever-changing industry should have us all chomping at the bit to achieve likewise in ours. So, it’s against this somewhat lofty backdrop that we look to this week’s offering.
Up first is Kronenbourg 1664 and lordy, lordy what a beauty. Mr Cantona, take a bow for a quite wonderful performance of Gallic shruggery and facial nuance – and if I’m not mistaken, that’s a USP in there too. What on earth is the world coming to? It’s fun, it’s witty, it’s a spot that keeps on giving and I’m not convinced I’ll see a much better one this year.
A tough act to follow but someone has to. Morrisons. You know you’re heading down a creative cul-de-sac when you have to put in a call to Ant & Dec to do the heavy brand lifting. However, as much as a dead-end it might appear to be, at least you can guarantee a hefty overlay of charm and loveable cheek. So you would have thought, anyway. The quite astonishing thing about this work is that it lacks both and you can see the gags coming from the previous ad break. The brand deserves better.
Next up, Phebe Edwards (real) and D Love (animated), duetting Endless Love for Digital Radio UK/BBC. It’s got a dove in it also, so it’s now called Endless Dove. I watched a couple of times thinking I’d missed something, but I think’s that’s about it. Is it a promo? Is it an ad? It could be both. It feels like neither.
On the home straight now, and with a change of pace, we have Macmillan Cancer Support. It has been felt for many years that charity work is the least painful path to showcase strategic and creative excellence. However, if that was the case, how come there is so much self-indulgent drivel out there? And I say this only because I want to give this work all the credit it deserves.
The insight made my heartbeat quicken, the creative device brought a tear to my eye and, once I’d manned-up and saw it through to the end, I finally glowed with admiration for the work Macmillan does. That’s no easy path – that’s the path least trodden and props all round to those who took it ("props" is a good thing, right?).
Finally – the last time I looked, Blue Dragon was an authentic, credible, premium cook-in sauce. Now’s it’s not.
I began with one iconic Oscar and now turn to another, Mr Wilde, to part: "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."
I’ll be off then.