Private Hear: July 2013

Featuring work from Department for Transport, Heinz, TigerNuts from Walkers,, Warburton's and CLIC Sargent.

Private Hear: July 2013

Ryan Newey founding partner and creative director, Fold7Nick Hastings creative director and co-founder, Krow Communications

Thanks to shouty voiceovers, jingles and the convention of shoving four pages of terms and conditions into a five-second slot, radio advertising doesn’t have the finest reputation. For many, it’s the buck-toothed little sibling to the handsomely coiffed TV ad. But if these six ads are to show us anything, it’s that radio doesn’t have to be ugly, even if sometimes it is.

Warburtons is proof, serving up an ad that works as well on radio as it would do if it had a TV equivalent. It’s a good script that continues the idea of people writing to Jonathan Warburton himself – previously with praise, this time with problems. It’s also a firm reminder of what a difference a great actor can make in bringing a script to life, and a masterclass in seamlessly dropping in Star Wars references: "Help me, Mr Warburton. You’re my only hope." Yes, indeed, the Force is strong with this one.

In stark contrast, the Force certainly isn’t with TigerNuts from Walkers. If there was a prize for seeing how many times you could bludgeon listeners around the head with the words "crispy nuts" in 30 seconds, this one would win. For those vast numbers of people who have problems admitting that nuts can be crispy, this ad will be useful. However, if you’re already comfortable with that concept, joylessness is all that remains.’s Gio Compario used to be an easy target (literally) but, with our dear old friend now displaying alarming levels of self-awareness, he’s getting harder to hate. Although it won’t be to everyone’s taste, this is a pretty funny ad with a neat construct at the heart of it that could be developed further.

Speaking of taking things further, CLIC Sargent might have taken it too far. Despite liking the notion behind it – showing us what to do by showing us what not to do – the whole thing feels like an amateur dramatics performance produced by villagers. Considering the aim is to get people involved with "Wig Wednesday", a large chunk of the 50-second ad is spent on shooting a guy called Clarence out of a cannon and sending him to his unquestionable death. Next time, make it shorter, concentrate on the comedy within Wig Wednesday and let’s try to keep Clarence alive. Poor thing.

Thanks to visual impact, the Department for Transport has always nailed Think! TV ads. When it comes to radio, though, it feels more like a TV script repurposed for the medium rather than one made specifically for it. While the ad is solid and does the job, I’d love to see a radio ad with the same ambition as the TV ads have.

Last but definitely not least is Heinz Salad Cream, brought to life brilliantly by Mark Williams of The Fast Show fame. Adding a dimension that none of the other ads have, it’s unashamedly stuffed full of cheese-related gags and puns, and I love it for it. Without doubt, it’s feta than all the rest…

This month’s work is shoddy. Assuming it was dreamt up by talented creatives, this makes me think that, as an industry, we’re not putting enough effort or thought into radio. Perhaps it’s just not expensive enough.

The big guy in the ads has stopped singing and started looking for other ways to tell us how to save money on insurance. Interesting timing, because I think he was just starting to irritate his way into the nation’s hearts: the old "so bad, it’s good" syndrome. To make matters worse, without the opera to lean on, the warbling wizard’s just plain dull. It feels unfair on the poor chap to me, a bit like asking Pavarotti to do stand-up. Time to move the campaign on?

In the CLIC Sargent ad, a bloke tries to raise money for children with cancer by firing himself out of a cannon, but it turns out that, with CLIC Sargent, there is a better way: all he has to do to raise money is wear a wig. Now call me follicly challenged, but isn’t there a good deal of humour in wigs? Why wheel out the old human cannonball gag? The ad could have been less formulaic, clearer, funnier and more effective. This wouldn’t matter terribly if the cause wasn’t such an important one.

In the Heinz Salad Cream ad, we’re told that the "brie-licious" stuff makes "grated cheese greater" and "ciabatta cia-better", which is why we must all "pitta the man who doesn’t dollop". (No, no, stop – my ribs are aching.) The brand and the audience deserve better. "Bring on the zing," the endline goes. Salad cream? Zing? Really?

The Department for Transport ad dramatises how much it costs you when you get done. I say dramatises. Actually, what it essentially does is present a litany of facts. They are compelling enough and tell me for a fact that, on a Friday night after a couple of lagers, I’d be insane to drive home. But the problem is that, at nine on a Friday night, I’m not living in a factual world.

Two blokes have a disagreement over whether TigerNuts from Walkers are crisps or nuts. Or it could be one bloke playing two parts. Who knows or cares? The idea is crushingly hackneyed and the writing is lame. It turns out at the end that one of the guys is an ambassador, and I think we’re supposed to find it amusing that such a lofty guy is taking time out to join in the crisps or nuts debate. "Do you think we need a summit?" he asks. No, mate, that would just be silly.

There’s a nice idea in the Warburtons ad. A woman pretends she has made a Warburtons loaf, impresses everyone, shoots to stardom, then sobbingly confesses to her crime. It’s a neat way of saying Warburtons tastes pretty good, but the execution is a little half-baked, as indeed was that pun. The performance sounds a little bit too much like a performance, and the writing could and should have been pushed. Nonetheless, it’s the highlight of another month in which the industry has been careless with the potential radio has to offer.

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