Executive creative director,
A very interesting mix this week. From the serious stuff to the bread and butter, from the populist to the plain. The work varies so much in stature and ambition that it made me think if this is a bit like comparing apples with pears. Or are they all just fruit and therefore can measure up to each other?
Let’s take a look: I got sent five ads in the very same basket, so I’ll just get on with it once and for all.
Someone, some day, said to a cereal box: thou shalt be boring. And thus a perfectly fine product, and quite a tasty one too, was doomed. I fail to grasp why it is that most cereal must be invisible to the naked eye. This one for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies is well-produced, quite sweet in its story and boasts a lovely soundtrack. But all these adjectives ornate what is but trodden, barren ground: the morning setting, the mother (proud to perform her role), the kid you can’t help but find cute. Why do human beings still need to be told what time of day they ought to have cereal? Why the omnipresent reminder that it should be in the kitchen? Do mums really need to see other mums in ads to realise they’re the target? (These are rhetorical questions – please spare me kilos of PowerPoint with answers.)
Next comes a product that is indeed insipid by nature. Colourless and odourless too. And yet, Evian’s new ad has more than 40 million hits on YouTube. Who said you’re allowed to be that entertaining when talking about water but not when you talk about crisped rice? These unwritten rules have always fascinated me. I’ve heard colleagues say, with a slight but discernible sneer, that Evian’s babies are only a gimmick. Then I go on to check if they have ever produced something solid, deep and insightful with at least half of Evian’s click rate. Don’t get me wrong, though. I hate that ad too, of course: I didn’t write it.
Hate is the word that brings us to the next paragraph. I love ads that acknowledge hate as a simple human emotion and find it as true as any other. Hate isn’t always provocative or controversial. It can be positive if handled well. In this case, it surprised me to see a doctor declaring he hates his job. And it made the British Heart Foundation message more human, more believable and all the more compelling. As anyone well-versed in the art of persuasion should know, a small admission gains great credibility. That angry doctor, the hard truths, the gruelling reality of heart disease didn’t even try to make things look any worse than they really are. Their humanity won me over.
KLM did a clever, cool promotion. It’s a PR magnet done with skill and relevance to the brand. A fellow Brazilian, Pedro, ended up winning the trip to space. I’m somewhat happy by that and biased, since the Brazilian national squad isn’t winning as much on the football pitch.
And, last but not least, comes Hovis. It’s a nice ad. A decent ad. I love St George and the entrance to my house even sports a picture of him slaying the dragon, right by the door. I have biased reasons to love it as well. But we’ve seen that kind of ad before, and the truth is that I never wave with great enthusiasm when I happen upon a member of its family. It’s an acquaintance, not a friend – someone you know by sight and a mere nod is enough of a greeting. However, that proud English sandwich is tastier than cereal, although too much bacon will make the BHF doctor even angrier than he already is.
Contributors to Private View have come up with many ways of introducing the column, some of them quite long.
First up this week is Hovis. As an image, sliced bread is the best thing since Nike painted the St George’s Cross on Wayne Rooney, but is it a great ad for nice, old Hovis? At first, I thought it was for HP Sauce or even Colman’s mustard; then, when I saw the Hovis logo, it felt a little like discovering that Boots sponsors cage-fighting.
Positioning a bog-standard bottled water as the secret of eternal youth takes a bit of chutzpah, but so far Evian has pulled it off with aplomb. Its new film, in which people see themselves as kids in reflections, has already got more than 40 million hits. Wow, people must really like the idea of looking younger than they really are. The film could have been even better with more intrigue at the beginning and, for reasons too obvious to mention, without the two black guys exchanging high fives.
KLM has only gone and dragged out that old chestnut where you can win a flight in space by guessing how high a hot-air balloon will rise into the atmosphere before bursting. A kind of "space age spot the ball", if you will. I had to ask someone clever to help me understand what the hell was going on ("Are you sure it’s not just a load of horseshit?" was the helpful reply) but, once I’d got my head around it, my guess is that this intriguing idea will have got social networks hyperventilating and worked a treat. By the way, the answer was 31km high, with a horizontal drift of 79.8km, at a drift angle of 26 degrees. Less predictably, the winner was Pedro from Brazil. Good work, fella – wear a seat belt.
I’m not sure people know that the British Heart Foundation actually works to find solutions to heart disease as well as helping people who suffer from it. Because the BHF advertises relatively infrequently, it has perhaps, understandably, tried to say an awful lot in one go. As a dad, a football fan and, on good days, a human being, images of Fabrice Muamba and a 13-year-old girl who died of heart disease are affecting, but I’m being asked to take in too much information for the film as a whole to really hit home.
When the little girl at the beginning of the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-grain Shapes commercial says "I wonder what it’s like to be a fish", I thought for one terrible moment that she was on drugs. But, no, she had merely been inspired by a fish-shaped cereal. She then goes on to do many things that fish do. It’s a little bit saccharine and the mum looks like she comes out of a BBC sitcom (why doesn’t the little girl just pretend to be a shark and eat her?) but, then again, any nicely shot commercial about a child’s imagination is on pretty safe ground. "Made with fibre, whole grain and imagination", goes the line, making Rice Krispies better for our kids’ development than Michael Gove.
I hope you have a lateral week, with a minimal drift factor.