Joint chief creative officer, EMEA, OgilvyOne Worldwide
It’s a strangely similar crop this week. All TV spots, most of them trying to depict "real people" as adland sees them.
So, as the awards season gathers pace and we all await results with nervous excitement (but equally ready to dismiss the whole process with well-rehearsed nonchalance), I thought it would be wise to remind ourselves of the other jury out there. The real people.
I’ll leave you to decide which jury is the more important: the Prada jackets (the ad juries) or the puffa jackets (the public).
First up is Santander. The country braces itself for its favourite sporting celebrities to deliver some oak-like performances but, happily, they are confined to their natural areas of sporting prowess. Lights flicker in power stations across the country as the unremarkable series of vignettes lulls thousands into a thirst for a cup of tea. The Prada jackets are also anxious to move on: "Next!"
Another slice of life with Halifax but, this time, it’s served with a dollop of humour. Fathers across the land glow with pride as "holiday dad" goes out of his way to ensure his family has a great summer break by swatting mosquitoes and replacing dropped ice-creams. The puffas are amused. (Until Mum reminds Dad how he lost his temper in the hired car just outside Grenada.) The Pradas recognise the well-crafted script, applaud the slick comic direction and save it for the next round.
From "holiday dad" to "comedy dad" as Birds Eye treats us to a masterfully written script depicting a "typical family" meal. I look to the puffa jackets for their view but we’ve lost their attention; they’ve started laughing and chatting among themselves at a piano-playing cat one of them found on YouTube. The Prada-jacketed juries applaud the Mike-Leigh-on-a-table-top treatment but, sadly, bemoan the lack of a standout idea.
Powwownow, the conference-call-service provider, has launched a TV campaign that plays on people’s fear of missing out on family time because of travelling with work. The slightly contrived script reminds our puffa jackets of Outnumbered, only not quite as funny: "Another cuppa, anyone?" Some of the Pradas start reminiscing about the classic ad: "If your son drew a picture of your family, would you be in it?"… was it Barbara Noakes? Then they move on. The puffas know that the real reason you want to "shirk from home" is so you can watch more piano-playing cat videos without being bothered by colleagues.
Which brings us nicely to our last offering. With the biggest and fastest mobile network, EE thinks it has made the internet more epic. So it has taken a selection of internet memes and given them an "epic" setting.
It’s a simple and entertaining idea. Hell, it’s an idea. The puffas have stopped chatting and started laughing. They looked a bit bemused for a while but they got it. The Pradas have forgotten that they are supposed to be sneery (although they can’t help but indulge in a debate about whether aping an original video is destined to fall a little flat) and, smiling, they waft it through to the next round.
So, there you go. Our juries demonstrate that it’s simply great ideas that unite us all in the end.
Founder and creative director, Quiet Storm
Having experienced some excellent reviews over the years and, at the same time, had some proper kickings, I really wanted to like every ad that I had to review. But, in the interests of honesty, unfortunately this was not the case.
EE. I must say what I found most impressive about these ads was the production values. I thought the attention to detail and some of the casting and acting were very good – the director must have had a field day shooting them. Having said that, despite the build-up being very intriguing on both executions, the final reveals didn’t really make me laugh and left me feeling a little cold.
Santander. Everybody is saying that we’re coming out of the recession and TV budgets are creeping up again, and I think this ad must be testament to that because of the sheer scale and money spent on it.
What I liked about the ad is the grandiose intentions and confidence that it exudes but, all in all, I didn’t find it that entertaining to watch and, I must admit, I was wondering when it was going to end.
Halifax. This one I viewed with slight trepidation as I’ve already seen two in this particular campaign, which I thought were OK but not groundbreaking. The difference with this one, for me, is – it might be my age – I really felt it was talking to me as a father, and whoever wrote this is very much in tune with the realities of being a modern-day dad. As opposed to when you’re single and your holiday is all about you, when you have a family, you get greater pleasure out of their happiness, which comes through really well in this ad.
Birds Eye. It has pulled off family interaction in a way that unashamedly focuses on the product throughout, which I felt was simply shot and did make me want to tuck into a fish-finger sandwich.
However, the idea seemed to be let down by the very dull dialogue, especially after the initial promise at the front of the ad of "comedy dad", leading you to believe that the dad would indeed be funny.
Powwownow. I really loved the concept behind this ad in that, if you don’t spend time with the people you love, you’re in danger of them finding love elsewhere, which seems a very powerful way of selling the benefits of conference-calling from home. I think the writing was really strong but, executionally, with better casting the characters could have been more endearing and watchable.