George Prest

Executive creative director, R/GA London

We are an industry in crisis and we are in denial of it. Like global warming, we’re all going to put our fingers in our ears until it’s too late. And then we’ll get cooked.

This is our crisis. People don’t care much for brands any more.

Maybe they never did but, clearly, the golden age of brand as construct is over. We need a new type of brand now. Positive, purposeful brands must come to the fore. Brands must play a role in people’s lives, fit in rather than drop on top of them from on high.

What really scares me, though, is that we approach this crisis as a media problem. We think that we can change the format, change the channel and try to spend our way out of it by renting online eyeballs.

It’s not a media problem that we face. It’s a motivation problem.

We have to make people care about brands again. We have to make our brands relevant to the hyper-informed, self-combusting planet that we live on.

We all know this. It just doesn’t suit our business model to do anything about it.

The key is to think of the people that we serve as human beings, not consumers or even customers, which seems to be the new denialists’ mot du jour.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d have a look at the week’s work as a human being, as a normal person, flesh and blood, finger poised to go somewhere else more exciting, with a consideration of what it made me feel and, potentially more importantly, do.

I found the Save the Children film pretty compelling. I watched it all the way through, which is rare for me with online film. It made me feel uncomfortable. I was glad when the bairn survived and there was a clear path for me to make a difference at the end of it.

Vision Express: I didn’t have a Scooby what was going on here. It reminded me of the films I was forced to watch about sex when I was about 12. You know: camera up the urethra, sperm whooshing along the rifled chamber towards immortality. No idea what it meant.

Thomson Cruises is already dead to me. Out of duty, I watched it all the way through but, in real life, I would have clicked away after about ten seconds.

Pepsi Max, I’d already seen. Someone at work had punted it through our spam "Chatter" e-mail address. I’d liked it first time. This time, I got a little irritated with the archness of the filming, the non-drama of some of the "dramatic" bits. But it’s still cool. I went through to the YouTube channel at the end and it looked well put together. I didn’t muster the energy to watch any of the other films. This is a crowded space and we all trail in the wake of Red Bull.

Finally, Three is an extremely lovable piece of nonsense. It is my nine-year-old son’s favourite ad. I even went to try to make a film of my own afterwards but the online tool was broken, which was a shame.

So, not so bad for human beings this week. Damningly, though, just a bunch of comms, media solutions to our crisis. I’d love to know what the brands above are actually doing, rather than saying, to connect meaningfully with people.

We need to wake up. We face crisis. Media is not the solution to this, motivation is. It’s time to get off our collective arse.


Laurence Green

Founder, 101

An apology is long overdue. Richard (Flintham) ushered it through the Fallon creative department. I let it out of the building. Phil (Rumbol, then the Cadbury marketing director) somehow got it through his. And seven years later, the "gorilla’s" bastard offspring are everywhere.

But what’s this? Another wave of rock-solid evidence, pardon the pun, that cute-animal-meets-cheesy-80s-pop-tune – or rather its daddy: emotion, pure emotion – is not so much the refuge of the advertising scoundrel as a brand’s best shot at long-term success.

In the heroically unambiguous opinion of the upstart quant research agency BrainJuicer, "seduction, not persuasion, is the key to successful advertising… how we feel turns out to be vastly more important than what we think… getting you to feel lots is now, more than ever, advertising’s core job… using well-known music, and dropping voiceover, are consistently the two creative choices most likely to lead to really emotional ads". And so – in unapologetic contravention of inherited advertising wisdom – only one thing really matters here, and for advertising life in general. Are we stirring the emotions? It’s easy to say, but harder to do.

A windy way of introducing the new Three commercial, perhaps, but it’s work that cleaves so closely to the newly baptised winning formula that I’m obliged to frame it so. Cutting to the chase, it’s full marks here for commitment to an emotional agenda: an arch reinterpretation of what has variously been described as the worst song of the 80s and, er, the worst song ever. If there are executional caveats, it’s only against the bar of the more obviously "found" feel of the moonwalking pony. That said, some screwball version of Starship’s latter-day hymn to rock ’n’ roll is ringing out not immaterially from my 13-year-old’s bedroom as I type. It’ll work harder than a Stakhanovite Trojan’s dog.

This week’s fellow contestants attempt the same floor routine without kittens and with less success. A furball of shame accompanies my verdict on the Save the Children spot, which somehow engages head more than heart despite its noble mission and despite, or perhaps because of, the fact it is so simply and truthfully told. "We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us," Keats opined. Perhaps this is the cross charity advertisers must bear?

Eyesight, likewise, enjoys a standing start in the emotion stakes and, although Vision Express has embarked from the right platform, it has boarded the wrong train, with a beautifully executed commercial that overestimates our interest in the cornea and underestimates our desire to be moved.

Relieved of some of the more formal obligations of its advertising big sister, "content" (ghastly phrase) should, of course, find it easier to both go and get emotional, if not necessarily to find an audience. Pepsi Max does just this, with a tale of human derring-do umbilically attached to its brand promise of "incredible". It’s familiarly told but plausibly shareable, if not quite up to Red Bull’s or Bradley Cooper’s standards.

Sadly, that’s not something that can be said of Thomson Cruises’ latest offering, which, frankly, I’d have checked out of sooner if unencumbered by journalistic obligation, so thoroughly unstirred were my emotions. (Bang goes the "thank you" cruise.)

So remember this, advertising pop-pickers. Keep it emotional. Our audience is not a target (you fire at those). Oh, and there’s a big stack of 80s vinyl in my loft if anyone needs it. I knew it would come in handy one day.