Chief creative officer,
Crispin Porter & Bogusky London
When I look at any marketing (because I’m in the game), I often ask myself: what is the ambition here and what is the problem that they (client and agency) are trying to solve? Sometimes, I struggle to see either. It’s surprising because that’s the point, ultimately, isn’t it? That’s what we do. Clients employ us to deliver clarity, vision and cultural resonance to their brands and products because, as we all know, marketing without ambition or true purpose is just pointless yap.
Sadly, too much marketing is still created for the people who pay for the ads and make the ads rather than the real audience in the real world.
Hostelworld has been ambitious, and it has done a great job of inspiring young people to "fill their dash" and live a life, meet some strangers, get your bum out and jump off a cliff. Really nicely and naturally shot, cracking track, no crappy boy-meets-girl ad dialogue and it’s simple, simple, simple. It made me wish I was 20 again. Instead, I just took my trousers off and finished this piece in my pants. It would have been even better if the website carried some of that "meet the world" inspiration but, in comparison, it was functional and so dull it made me want to put my trousers back on.
Next, we see a beautifully shot stuntman and fireman going about their "normal" day – stunt jumps, wheelspins, fires and shit. Shell is trying to get me to believe that, because these extraordinary people are paid to be in an ad for Shell fuel, Shell fuel will make all the difference to me.
I don’t believe it for one second. It’s an old-school "let’s find a USP" approach when there isn’t enough of a USP. Wrong strategy. Too long. Not interesting enough.
Next, one of my favourite campaigns. "Dirt is good" for Persil. What I loved about this big idea was that it was very ambitious, had a great purpose and was simple yet very exciting.
So why are these posters so bloody complicated and self-indulgent? We see bugs and frogs playing teacher in miniature classrooms, with the line: "Everything’s a teacher." I have no idea what it means. Another strange strategy. Bizarre execution. Total disconnect with reality.
This Coca-Cola montage is a fast-paced collision of 20 products and a heritage story. It’s cut to an upbeat track, but is cluttered and really misses that famous Coke tone, leaving the happiness hashtag end a bit redundant. Not sure what the ambition was. Lacks clarity and personality.
Every time you buy a pack of Pilgrims Choice cheese in the supermarket, the whole factory back in Staffordshire drops tools and starts celebrating by cutting shapes to some hardcore bass. It’s a fun idea, nicely shot with some really good casting but, at the end of the day, it’s just another moderately funny TV ad. There’s a strange interactive element where you can choose one of eight music tracks for the factory to dance to and win a year’s supply of cheese. The annoying thing is six of the tracks are just stupid, which seems to completely undermine the interactive point. I’m sure, in this interactive day and age, it could have been a bit more creative and ambitious.
Chief creative officer,
There has been a lot of talk about millennials recently. It tends to be with a mixture of fear and reverence, like they are a strange new species with mystifying behaviours that only we agency types are able to decode on behalf of clients. Which is, of course, bollocks. They are just youngish people.
If anything confirms that nothing has changed in terms of what drives their behaviour, it’s the fact that The Inbetweeners 2 smashed all UK box-office records last year, breaking the record held by… the first Inbetweeners Movie. If you can forgive the misogyny, this success is testament to the fact that, when it comes to boys at least, what’s going on underneath remains reassuringly predictable. Knowing your audience is what it’s all about.
The troops at Lucky Generals know their millennials. Not comedy, in this instance – although seeing a naked bum or two might get a cheeky smile. They have chosen romance to bring to life Hostelworld’s "meet the world" proposition. They have understood what drives that audience to travel: it’s not always about getting off your nut in Magaluf; it’s about discovery, adventure, possibility and shared experience. It’s about seeing the world and meeting people – clothed or naked. I particularly like the "nice lad from Warrington meets nice girl from Argentina" – they’re even doing their bit for international relations. You could serialise this campaign – I’d love to see what happened next.
Coca-Cola is after the same audience with its new spot. I struggle with presenting all four brands together. How can you have a distinct point of view on the world and an exciting personality when you’re presenting yourself as, basically, "a brand with lots of drinks"? That’s not the real problem here, though. The real problem is executional. This spot feels like a good mood film, not a great ad. And it’s compounded by the choice of the Honeytrap soundtrack – it’s impossible not to draw comparisons with Diesel’s "be stupid" spot from five years ago.
Next up, we’ve got Persil after parents, not kids. These new outdoor executions are undeniably clever, beautifully produced and crafted, but I spend a lot longer than five seconds decoding them. You’d have to be stationary to fully appreciate them. They feel as if they might appeal to us agency types/juries more than the millions of busy parents Persil needs to engage.
It doesn’t get any harder than cheese. Creating engaging, entertaining work for a generic, commoditised milk derivative aimed at, well, everyone who likes cheese is very impressive. Pilgrims Choice has bravely created interest in a low-interest category – and all audiences appreciate that.
Finally, Shell with two films looking to engage drivers. They are exquisitely directed, filmed and edited, but I don’t buy that a fireman gives two hoots what type of petrol is in his truck – does he even get to choose? Do drivers care about what brand of petrol goes in their car? It comes back to audience. Most of us aren’t firemen or stuntmen. When you’re bombing up the M3 on a Sunday with the petrol light flashing, bursting for a wee and you see an Esso x Waitrose service station, my money is on every one of us accelerating up the exit ramp to relief, warmth and petrol of any description. I just don’t think the petrol battle is going to be won on (very male) petrolhead ads; it’s going to be won on great service, value for money and environmental responsibility. And millennials, drivers, parents – all of us – are all over that.