John Townshend

Creative partner, Now

None of the ads this week are really awful. None are really great. It’s an average week in adland.

I’m imagining the meeting when the Ibuleve campaign was presented: "We have a great campaign CONSTRUCT and it goes like this: something painful happens to a person and we chip in with the line ‘I do believe he needs Ibuleve’ – it’s like a Carling Black Label ad, or a Specsavers… it will run and run." I like a good construct, and I like a corny-branded endline, and you would have thought that other people’s pain would be comedy gold. Not here.

The execution and direction, which would seem to demand a touch of wit, are heavy-handed and dreary.

These look like they have been directed by a farmer who has been given a video camera as a bet.

Remember Chipotle’s "back to the start" film that won all the awards? You would think that’s a tough act to follow, and so it is. This film tells the story of a scarecrow who works for a horrible processed-food giant and runs away to set up a natural food stall. The story is very simplistic and so feels a little obvious.

The animation is beautifully handled, as is the music (Fiona "Organic" Apple). It’s streets ahead of the other work this week but, if I was being really fussy, just doesn’t have the twist and wit of its predecessor.

Hovis’ posters for Best of Both. Bit boring. They visualise the good and bad side of kids, but they’re not really witty or noticeable enough. It’s the sort of thing Malcolm Venville or Mark Denton would have executed well. I don’t know what to say. They’re neither one thing nor t’other.

EasyJet has made a film with lots of jump-cuts of people on holiday. It slips past effortlessly and leaves quietly without making the slightest impression. If you take the trouble to look hard, you will notice a generic message about "generation easyJet". Which I guess we all are, unfortunately. I wish I was "generation first-class BOAC, served Moët by lipsticked ladies in tailored suits and whisked off to Cap Ferrat to have a Martini with David Niven", but hey ho. It’s "speedy" boarding, someone else’s old sandwich in the seat pocket and standing on the stairs at the airport gate next to an E’d-up Geordie stag party on their way to San Antonio.

Axe’s work is always good, always deft. This story of how to pomade your hair is well-done, if a little laboured. It’s more of a product demo than an ad, but it’s quirkily cast, well-directed and quite satisfying to watch.

As I said, an average week.


Mark Denton

Creative director,
Coy! Communications

It’s tough being a client. I’m finding that out first hand.

You see, the missus and I are putting on a play and we’ve got thousands of tickets to sell.

But I’ve done what most smart clients have worked out – and that’s to get someone more talented than myself to do the advertising. So our digital poster campaign is the brainchild of my old mate Dave Dye. And, obviously, it’s brilliant.

I loved it as soon as Dave showed me, but it didn’t take long before I started questioning the size of the logo and whether there should be a mention of the online trailer, a URL and a box office phone number as well. After an embarrassing silence, I just slowly backed away before I did too much damage. Fortunately, I remembered that it’s not always in a client’s best interest to get their own way.

I reviewed this week’s batch of ads with that lesson in mind.

Have you noticed the trend towards clients insisting that they see a proposed ad before it has been shot? There would have been no trouble selling the easyJet concept, then. It uses a well-tried-and-tested editing technique to dramatise the number of customers who use the airline. Of course you minimise risk if you can see how it has been done before. The downside is that you end up with something that has been done before.

The Ibuleve campaign has quite a neat little idea at its core. In one ad, a lady throws a ball for her dog and puts her shoulder out. The dog returns with the ball but is comically disappointed when the second throw drops feebly to the ground due to the injury. The ads ends with the line: "I do believe she needs Ibuleve."

Not bad on paper, but we all know that it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it. I bet the client was punching the air when he was told he’s getting three ads for the price of two.

Hovis uses a poster campaign that extols the virtues of the product… or, rather, it doesn’t.

We see shots of kids eating sandwiches. They’re half-grubby and half-clean (the kids, not the sandwiches). But what does that tell us about the bread? Well, there’s a line underneath the product (possibly a client mandate) that says: "Now tastes even better." Got it! It’s half-dirty, half-clean bread that used to taste bad.

I’ve noticed that a lot of clients like a bit of research, and I bet a few focus groups said that Axe Hair users would rather look like the handsome blokes in this campaign.

It’s basically a series of online ads that show prospective punters how to use the product. The demos themselves are not that illuminating (despite the fact that I’m going a bit thin on top, I do know a bit about hair). So they rely on comedy to garner interest.

That’s where the client might have made the classic error of listening to the research. Handsome blokes are (generally) not funny. Everyone knows that the gift of humour is bestowed on "characterful" men in order to give them half a chance of having sex.

Finally, the best of this week’s offering: the Chipotle ad. It’s great; masterfully done. It’s the perfect example of execution triumphing despite the lack of an idea. But just think how fantastic it could have been with an idea. Yes, if I were the client, I would have insisted on an idea. I would have made it a mandate.