When Dan Shute, the chief executive of Creature, declared last May that the agency’s relationship with its recently won client, the bed manufacturer Dreams, hadn’t "quite worked out how we all hoped it would" and that the pair would be parting company, he was not guilty of an understatement.
After all, just four months earlier upon winning the business, Shute had gushed that his agency had "not only found a big retailer but a brand and a bunch of people committed to making ground breaking work". The business subsequently moved to M&C Saatchi.
The evidence of this work was unveiled earlier this month – and ground breaking it is not. Rather it stuck to the now hackneyed "safe" sentimental trope, complete with raspy female cover version of a popular song, made famous by John Lewis so long ago it barely seems conceivable – one that has frequently been copied but never bettered.
What a shame for all concerned. While Creature was right to walk away from this opportunity, it would undoubtedly have been a painful decision for any independent agency given the reputational boost and extra billings such a sizeable and prominent account can offer.
For M&C Saatchi, which has also needed a shot in the arm following a period of management instability and falling billings, the subsequent spot is probably not one that indicates the creative reboot it – or we – had all been looking for. Its endline "What dreams are made of" is unlikely to match up to the experience of those eager creatives hoping to make something "ground breaking" on the account.
But for Dreams, it’s a lost opportunity too. Inoffensive and banal, the ad isn’t likely to upset anyone but such a tepid and cautious approach means that it might not get noticed at all. Dreams has quite an interesting brand story (in its category) to tell: a British-manufactured product for which the company provides end-to-end service. Instead of "shouting this from the rooftops" as its marketing director Lisa Bond says she wanted from the campaign, it’s produced something so soporific and yawn-inducing that the only brand truth that shines through inadvertently is its claim to be experts "in all things sleep-related".
Compare and contrast this for instance with Krow’s work for DFS, which imaginatively used its sponsorship of the Rio Olympics in its communications and also produced the most recalled TV ad of the year, according to Campaign’s Adwatch research.
So much has already been written about how the Pepsi/Kendall Jenner farrago showed how in-house creative departments, unchecked by independent balance, critical assessment and input, could get it very wrong. Equally Oliver’s chief creative officer Brian Cooper pointed out that any agency can also produce crap ads.
While this Dreams spot is not in the same category as Pepsi, it does bear out what Cooper has to say – and that sometimes, in the face of client intransigence on the creative route, it might be better just to walk away.