11 April 2013
What is it with space aliens and the anal probe? You’d think that having deployed their much-vaunted psychic mega-intelligence to traipse all the way over from the arse-end of Alpha Centauri, they might just celebrate arriving at our friendly Blue Pearl with something a little more sophisticated than a futuristic bum fumble. But no. No sooner have they crawled from the wreckage of yet another crash landing than they’re systematically sucking the gullible from their pick-ups and exposing them to some sub-Jean Michel Jarre light show before making a b-line for the tradesman’s. (I’ve heard the light show is rather lovely. It’s the backstage pass you gotta watch out for.)
Any road up. According to recently declassified Nasa documents, this "all new" Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut ad is officially the one billionth TV ad to feature space aliens. This year. Small wonder, then, that its lead actor is familiar with the First Rule of Alien Contact: they may look like bumbling balloon-headed freaks, but they have designs on Uranus. One whiff of an Old Grey fumbling in his undergrowth and he’s off. Gobbling his oats-so-loudly that the extraterrestrials take fright, forgetting all about the extracurriculars. No harm done. Yet the wider question for us inhabitants of Planet Ad remains: what IS it with advertising and aliens? ( The last time I struck that stance in public I was given the bum’s rush out of Argos.)
From ET to The Ex-Files. Many of your earth moons ago, I thought I’d impress a lovely lady by taking her to the Grand National. True story. I eagerly placed my meagre earnings at 20/1 on the grey (horse, not alien) and we set up camp at romantic Valentine’s Brook in anticipation of our hero galloping by, ahead of a trailing, flailing field. What could possibly go wrong? Well, this. Landing with perpendicular extravagance on the tricky side of Becher’s, our equine cupid broke his bloody neck, took a bullet to the head and was busy having his meat mechanically reclaimed at the nearby knacker’s yard by the time the rest of the runners ’n’ riders had reached us. Gutted? Him and me both.
Still, we were able to put it all behind us later over a lean (but, with hindsight, suspiciously chewy) valu-steak for two at a friendly Aintree eatery. We live and learn. And what I’ve learned lately is that Channel 4 and 4Creative are the hottest team in town. You’ve met the superhumans. Now ride with the superhorses. Smashing their way through Liverpool’s allotments with gay abandon. It’s more than smashing. It’s utterly brilliant.
Although I have oft expressed my love for this Volkswagen indie cinema thang, I still have a tiny quibble (I used to have a dozen large ones, but they nibbled a hole in my quibble quiver and escaped, leaving only this little runt): why always depict the usual suspects? Jaws? Jaws is a gimme. Gimme Black Swan. Gimme The Artist. Gimme recent already. I’ve recently been channelling René Magritte, who urges me to take issue with Green & Black’s central assertion. It IS a chocolate bar. A very interesting ad campaign is what it’s not.
And so to cats. And the burning feline issues of the day. Are cats space aliens? Is all that friendly licking merely a prelude to a full-on human face feast and unwarranted probing should you ever drop your guard? And is this Whiskas ad the most beautiful cat-food commercial ever made? Yes. Obvs. And probably.
Bitterly cold. Hip flasks. Thundering hooves.
And that’s just my mum, who used to take me to Kempton Park quite often.
(Did you know that nearly 90 per cent of thoroughbred horses are descended from a 17th-century stallion called Eclipse? Yeah. I think that could be bollocks too.)
Anyway, this week’s selection contains a thoroughbred, a novice, one for the knacker’s yard and something that should be in a ready meal. So, here we go. Hold tight.
And they’re off.
Falling at the first fence is the spot for Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut. They’ve managed to mention the new Granola variant in there twice. The client must be very happy.
Next, and pulling up lame, is the Volkswagen "see film differently" campaign. The work is okay, but it kind of feels like a designer has had too much time on their hands. Anyway, what do they mean "see film differently"? How? I’ve got 16 pairs of 3D glasses in a drawer at home for that. I honestly don’t know what is being communicated here. And the only thing, as far as I know, that VW has got to do with film is the Herbie box set*.
Leading the pack at the back is the Green & Black’s work. How do we showcase the different flavours? Let’s give them different personalities. The Exotic One (this bar has nipple tassels). The Rich One (has a money clip on it). The Vanilla One, er… Look, it’s neat and tidy, but a tad predictable. Which is a shame as the product is exciting and surprising, and I kinda think the work should be too.
Making up some pace is the ad for Whiskas. It focuses on the fact that your little Tiddles shares the same instincts as a big cat. We see a stunningly beautiful leopard in what at first appears to be its natural habitat, but turns out to be a suburban back garden. The leopard is then scared off by a barking dog, rushes towards a cat flap and emerges as a domestic tabby. It’s a sweet idea, but it looks like it was shot in a studio. Not sure how else you would have shot it, to be fair.
And about 100 furlongs in front of everything else is the ad for the Grand National and Channel 4.
Brilliantly, it positions racing not as a sport for flat cap wearers and toffs, but as the original extreme sport.
It’s not shot on a racecourse. It’s shot on a council estate, in parks and on the streets of Liverpool.
You can almost smell the danger.
I loved the detail in this spot: the greenhouse being smashed, the allotment being trampled, the little girl who wasn’t scared but in awe. The speed camera flashing. The wedding horses – sad, working creatures watching their mates dancing fast and free. The energy is high and the track perfect. The only thing I’d have changed is the voiceover at the end, but that really is nitpicking.
It’s just great. And made me want to stick a tenner on Teaforthree in the National. That was a tip from my mum, by the way.
*Containing – wait for it – The Love Bug, Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas and Herbie: Fully Loaded. Genius.