Private View: Ad people are awful, aren't we? (with Billy Faithfull and Tom Drew)

Tom Drew

Executive creative director, Wunderman Thompson

I stole a poster once. An actual poster. I unscrewed the Adshel and carefully removed it so that I could put the huge six-sheet on my bedroom wall next to all the flyers for raves I’d never been to. It was stunning. The 14-year-old me would have definitely nicked these beautiful McDonald’s posters. Two words and half a logo, yet still incredibly clear. 

It’s another two-takeaway week for me. Deliveroo is trying to make my mouth water so that I’ll reach for my phone. It makes sense that it has gone into the food porn executional space in primetime TV. In fact, it makes more sense for Deliveroo than the brand it is heavily borrowing from, as I can’t tap my phone at 7pm and have that brick of butter turn into something I want to eat right now…

Meatloaf. Is there anything he can’t make better? His late introduction definitely lifted this ad for Ladbrokes. It’s a familiar ruse, but I can see why they got there – people do love the horses. Which is why the creative team has also crafted a dating profi le for every single horse running at Cheltenham, which you can swipe, swipe, swipe until you fi nd "the one" for you. My browser search history is now soiled. I’ve only been in this job a week.

Tommee Tippee is helping to break the taboo of breastfeeding. Good on them. For me, the execution feels a lot like Bodyform’s magnifi cent "Viva la vulva" from 2019.

I searched online for some richer stories that take the campaign beyond this big, playful ad only to stumble upon the new Maltesers ads that tackle a similar subject. Sharing a packet is now the lighter way to talk about any subject. It’s so much stronger and fresher for that little strategic shimmy. And it makes these two new ads great additions to this lovely, tight campaign.

And more ads that I’m completely unqualified to review (thanks, Campaign). Bodyform’s #PainStories is a collection of women’s experiences of endometriosis pain which form a "Pain Museum" and even a "Pain Dictionary". All with the aim of reducing the "gender pain gap". Wonderful. I’m reading every word of the hand-drawn typeface and, importantly, learning. 

I really wanted to like the Marie Curie spot. But I just couldn’t. My little brain whirred for too long trying to work out what was going on and why a charity that cares for the terminally ill is talking about the monumental and sudden loss of life from Covid. Maybe it’s just me. I hope so.

No room for misinterpretation with Pepsi. The ad goes pop pop pop. Take some language that your audience uses and associate it with your product. "The tin(g) goes pop." Pretty simple stuff . I can hear it echoing around the playground. 

Now for sans gas and sans enfants. Is the brand better for it? I’m not sure. The "Drink true" tagline is living young itself so perhaps this new Evian positioning may grow into something as iconic as its older/younger siblings. 

Seven million people won’t be able (or want) to read this article. They can’t get online, apparently. So O2 is asking you to donate your old phone to help. A lovely initiative. Though I suspect there will be millions not reading these ads as well. Not because of a lack of data. There are just too many words. Rather like this review. 


Billy Faithfull

Chief creative officer, Engine

Ad people are awful, aren’t we? Always banging on about how our agencies aren’t full of ad people. We’re not really an ad agency, we’re not really ad people. Let’s look at some ads these awful ad people have made.

Deliveroo is a class business, isn’t it? Unlike a lot of the crap that ad people sell. I love how when I tip the rider, I get a little burst of glitter for each pound I add. Little virtue signalling for you there. Well, not really signalling as much as directly drawing attention to the fact that I’m a better person than you ad people. Drop them a fiver, for crying out loud, they’re not getting paid a lot to bring you salt and pepper squid. And it’s pissing down outside. This Deliveroo campaign is 98% class. "Food. We get it." This line. I love it. And I get where it’s going. Can’t wait for the chilli one. If I order from the teal-coloured one, my food will be good, which I don’t get from the other two. Sorry, Snoop. But then someone fell for the "Brand X presents..." trap. Sure, you could tell people who the ad is from in the first 1.37 seconds. But it isn’t confident. And this is SUCH a confident idea. With a really unconfident teal icon top left, throughout the ad. If this work works, which it will, I don’t think it’ll be because of that teal icon. Stand tall, blue-green kangaroo thing, and knock it off. 

Us ad people love making meaningful work. Makes us ad people feel good. Unlike all those plastic bottles and petrol we sold last week. In the big conversation about the female experience in culture at the intersection of inequality, violence, freedom and identity, change in the world can’t come fast enough. Brands like Tommy Tippee are born into this big conversation. They covered the brief in superglue and ram-raided The Tea Building. In a pretty good way. Standard, but good stuff. It’s cool.

Other brands must earn a place in this conversation. Maltesers have some form. These are well performed, but not quite ticking the funny box for me, unlike the very good lockdown ads.

Now, Bodyform knows its onions. It pretty much planted the whole onion patch. #PainStories is exquisitely crafted, bringing to life the endometriosis horror show. It brings you to tears in a wincing, cheek-clenching way. I feel extreme empathy for anyone suffering this horrific condition. Job done.

Only non-ad people would know that punters feel as strongly about a horse they’ve never met, let alone smelt, as they do their wives, husbands and partners. Ladbrokes is an OK conceit, but you can see the gag coming a mile off. Which is exactly how the Ladbrokes business model works.

Sometimes ad people do make really good work that isn’t an awards-chasing scam. Like these McDonald’s posters, which I’ve seen in the wild. Brimming with confidence, they are practically perfect in every way. Bravo. I look forward to cursing you from a table at Billingsgate Market. Ha. We can’t even do that any more, can we? You’ll get your shiny gong by post, but I won’t be there in person to massage your ego with my jealous tears.

Evian has a new campaign. One is a very well put together walker-talker with a French freeskier. So that’s relevant. The other less so – Dua Lipa guzzles H2O for cash, then sings a bit. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Adele doing ads for Buxton Spring.

Relevance to the max for Pepsi, Dappah turns his ludicrous Lol-raps into Benjamins. I find this quite hard not to like.

Marie Curie doesn’t look like it was made by ad people. Because ad people don’t like Ed Sheeran, do they? Supermarket Flowers hits me hard, but not as hard as the elegant use of images to mark the loss of loved ones. If you don’t feel anything watching this, shame on you.

O2 is feeling guilty about pressuring us into buying new phones every year and asking that we donate our "old" phones, which are actually more advanced than the space shuttle, to people who don’t have access to the internet in the UK. What a brilliant idea. Maybe us ad people aren’t so awful after all. Once we’ve hit our H2 sales targets. Bye!

 

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