Aleksandr may have finally found a worthy adversary
A view from Jeremy Lee

Aleksandr may have finally found a worthy adversary

Having invested more emotional capital in the status of a price-comparison site than any sane man should, I couldn't help feeling a little bit flat when Brian the Robot, the brand character created by Publicis London that replaced the irritating Cara, was finally launched.

For a variety of reasons, this particular account, which Publicis claimed to have won at the start of 2012, had been the subject of many arguments – some of them particularly and irrationally bad-tempered (you know who you are) – between the agency and Campaign after it failed to produce any work for more than 12 months. I had more reasons to loathe the Prozac-addled Cara and all that she stood for than the rest of you.

With the waiting finally over – and Publicis’ claim to be working on the business vindicated – the resultant work that launched in May seemed a clunky, sub-Metal Mickey, single-joke ad with only the slimmest strategy attached. Fortunately, an agency reveal with expectant faces was avoided and the giant Brian cut-outs, sent presumably to cheer up our Hammersmith office, were politely hidden away in a meeting room.

I didn’t want to not like it – in fact, quite the opposite given the attendant pain in the nether regions that bloody had given us for the previous 15 months. But it just seemed one-dimensional in a sector where VCCP has creatively blown everyone out of the water with its brilliant and enduring work for

The first iterations seemed to suggest a Turkey was, sadly, inevitable but – in what could be interpreted as either cowardice or kindness – I didn’t have the heart to put pen to paper about an agency that has been through the mill.

I had more reasons to
loathe the Prozac-addled Cara and all that she stood for than the rest of you

And yet… I’m beginning to think that Aleksandr might have a challenger on his hands. While Dare (with the help of a small dog and some funny scripts) has managed to turn Gio Compario into something that no longer has people turning to the bottle or reaching for a brick, Publicis might just have created a comedy creation that becomes a classic.

It’s certainly a grower and shows humour and personality for a brand that looked as though it had been left behind by the hard work of VCCP, Dare and Mother (which works on

Brian the Robot looks campaignable and, if the agency can surmount the challenge of being consistently funny and quirky – as Darren Bailes, VCCP’s executive creative director, has so successfully managed over the past five years with Aleksandr – then Publicis could be on to something.

After so long without an ECD or head of planning, it’s gratifying to see the influence of the talented but long-awaited Andy Bird and Tony Quinn finally making itself felt.