I grew up in agencies where the principal condition of whether I thought the work was good or not, was my own personal barometer. Surely with my cooler-than-thou rarefied ad sensibilities I’m the best arbiter of what’s cool, no? Semi-cryptic narrative – oh yes please, outlandish puns – I thank you not… I could go on.
Thankfully, I’ve grown up (a little) since then and Warburtons’ latest ad reminds me just what a treat an unashamedly, unabashed, populist piece of communications can be. It’s a veritable romp! Too often our industry is guilty of looking down its nose at populism, but the truth is you want everyone to like your work and ultimately buy the product if the client’s brand is to truly to grow.
It’s undeniably well executed and full of little touches, like when he not-so-surreptitiously slides the crumpets off Warburton’s desk into his bag without breaking eye contact
WCRS came up with an ad that has the rare honour of actually warranting its three-minute extended version. On the one hand it feels wholly traditional, but on the other hand it is pleasingly multi-layered – rewarding the viewer’s knowledge of nineties film tropes. You’ve got a Ghost reference in there, you’ve got an abortive Darcy lake swim, and of course there are some wonderful lines like: "you’re crushing me baps". It’s bordering more on ridiculous than sublime, but in spite of myself I still absolutely love it!
Even though at times it feels like a vehicle for Peter Kay, I can’t help thinking that that’s ok. Wind him up, let him do his thing and be a big enough agency to step out of the way and not script him too much. He has buckets enough of charm to pull it off…even if he does end up pasticheing his own earlier John Smiths work with the immortal "av it" line. At the end of the day, it’s undeniably well executed and full of little touches, like when he not-so-surreptitiously slides the crumpets off Warburton’s desk into his bag without breaking eye contact. It’s a minor detail – but one that enriches the work and highlights the craft, care and attention that’s been so obviously and lovingly devoted.
Commercially speaking, the wider campaign work is well branded. The art direction of the posters is distinctive. The tone and content feels entirely brand appropriate. And if I can offer one final encomium it’s that Warburton’s whole-hearted pun deployment cannot fail to raise a smile on even the most jaded of supermarket shopper’s lips – or for that matter those of ad execs. As Robbie Williams once so eloquently sang: "You can't argue with popularity. Well, you could, but you'd be wrong."
Theo Izzard-Brown is the chief strategy officer at McCann London