Jose Miguel Sokoloff
Chief creative officer, MullenLowe London
Finishing work and putting it out there is hard – it’s hard to make bad work and it’s hard to make good work. So, to me, all work that is finished deserves respect. Well done everyone involved in the creation, selling, producing and putting out there of the work I’m reviewing. It’s all work I would be proud of.
Over the past weeks I had my kids with me from Colombia and, as I battled with their food choices, I realised how easy it is to get them to eat sugar when what they really need is serious nourishment. I also think this is a good metaphor for advertising. Some work nourishes the brand it was made for, while some work just feels like "brand candy".
We need to nourish the brands we are entrusted to care for and keep them healthy in the long term. That’s the trick and, like with food, the more compromises you make and the more shortcuts you take, the more the food becomes junk.
Yorkshire Tea. I’ve presented campaigns before where we used "and there are plenty of _______ and therefore potential for different ads is infinite" but, more often than not, as the campaign develops it gradually gets more difficult to come up with executions as good as the initial ones. The present ads are beginning to hint that fatigue. I still love the humour and slight surrealism, and this is work that has been proven to work.
Booking.com. In 20 seconds (actually in 30, 60 and 90 too), you really only have time to single-mindedly communicate one thing effectively, and that is what this ad does. It is clever and the reveal is very good.
Three. This is a fun ad to watch but I am not a fan of using celebrities as talking heads. Joan Collins does have a relevant connection to what is being proposed, but I’d much rather see her acting in a role that suits her rather than just speaking into the camera.
Cancer Research UK. "If your idea clearly fits in a billboard, you actually have an advertising idea," I heard Hal Riney say years ago. And this idea does. Clever, simple and surprising, it communicates clearly and tells me something I did not know. Well done!
Camden Town Brewery. The illustration style is fresh and interesting. The idea is less so. I am not sure I get the beer is not pasteurised. I know it’s hard to stand out in the lager world and I think these do stand out and make me curious about the product – I attribute this to how the ads look.
Reebok. This is an instance where Cardi B is actually acting in a short film, and I like that. When you do that right, as does this film, even if the celebrity is unknown to you the story is interesting. This very surreal spot has a genius sense of humour in the slightly obvious but very well-placed "nailed it" line.
Kahlúa. This is one of my favourite campaigns lately. The glorification of getting zero likes for your un-curated posts does, in my opinion, raise the point that we may be taking social media too seriously. The fact that it is actually an exhibition makes me think that the people involved are having fun thinking of ways to amplify the idea, and it’s important to remember our profession can be a lot of fun.
Heinz. I think "makes it better" is a great line. This spot, not so much. It is entertaining to watch but I suspect there were a few more radical ideas on the table. This one feels a little bit safe.
Axe. I like the song. It is the only thing that justifies the three-plus minutes this video consumes. I get the story (which is good, by the way) in five seconds; another 55 would have been more than enough.
Vodafone. This spot is visually striking and all the "brand cues" are right and evident. "Unlimited" is a hard brief to come up with something original, and introducing a new campaign while you’re at it makes it harder. I want to see this in a cinema – maybe there, the multiple lookalikes and all that red will leave a longer-lasting impression in my brain.
We need to avoid the easy choice of "brand candy". The brave ones that have been created to nourish the brand, the ads where the takeaway I get is more important than how easy they were to sell, the ones where the production is in the service of the idea – the ones that made me think are my favourite ads above.
Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley
Creative partners, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Vicky (AMV’s comms director): "Would you like to do Private View?"
Nick and Nadja: "Do we have to be mean to everyone?"
Vicky: "If you want people to read it."
Nick and Nadja: "So being kind and understanding about how difficult it is to get great work out, and not all briefs are created equal… isn’t click-baity enough?"
Vicky: "Doesn’t sell shit."
Nick and Nadja: "Okay, well, we could take it in turns to be good cop and bad cop."
The first ad in for interrogation is Yorkshire Tea.
Good cop: This is a solid celebrity vehicle with Sean Bean and Dynamo playfully interacting with the down-to-earth Yorkshire Tea staff. It’s a crowd-pleaser. With Dynamo just winning it.
Bad cop: It’s a rule that Sean Bean dies early in every role. They should’ve killed him at 10 seconds, that’s what would’ve made it interesting. And stopped his Game of Thrones pastiche before it got a bit much.
Booking.com. Good cop: Simple visual demonstrations set to laid-back classic tracks. They’re short but they manage to conjure the languid spirit of a holiday. No further questions.
Bad cop: They could pass you by.
Three. Bad cop: Dame Collins’ sassy misdirect telling you to ditch your network provider rather than your partners is a real crime scene.
Good cop: It’s only advertising, nobody actually got hurt. And it will probs linger in the brain. Ditch ’n switch. Ditch ’n switch. Ditch ’n switch. Arrrrrrghhhhh.
Cancer Research UK. Good cop: This is an effective piece of art direction. And it certainly hits home – in a noisy PR’able way – the fact that obesity is a cause of cancer.
Bad cop: Is it right to link obesity to smoking imagery? Nope. Fact is, obesity isn’t just a simple culpable choice like smoke/don’t smoke. On balance they’ve made an impact and got a message out there, yes, but I’m not sure they’ve made it through the moral maze.
Camden Town Brewery. Good cop: The fun and playful visuals hammer home the crafty-freshness of the beer. I like the slightly surreal set of words "fresh as hells". They’re likely to stand out in a pub environment.
Slightly worse cop: It’s not fresh, fresh.
Heinz. Bad cop: Heinz’s first masterbrand ad in 10 years opens on a woman on a bus, snaking its way through a not-London town. The terrifying hairdo of the man in front of her makes the woman dream of chips with Heinz mayo. Really?
Good cop: I want to be bad cop too (picks up a chair and smashes it against the two-way mirror).
Vodafone. Bad cop: Good choreography, cool track, stylised look… and yet, it doesn’t really add up.
Good cop (offers the witness a cigarette and a cola): You can tell us, corporate made you do this? They shaved off all the edges? They said they wanted to be as fresh and non-addy as Apple HomePod, until they didn’t, right?
Axe. Bad cop: I confess, like an old Lord’s member watching a game of Twenty-20 cricket, it rather goes over my old head.
Good cop: However, Felipe, a fan posting on YouTube says "those plucks are Lit!". Millions of views, a cute love story, an ad posing as a music video, it’s probably banging.
Bad cop: Even though we’re playing the "we’re not the target market" card, I still think this hasn’t come out dope.
We both wanted to be good cop on Kahlúa.
Good cop 1: A great fresh insight that makes you smile and is executed with outstandingly fresh design. I’ll give it a like. And an excited happy emoji. The one with the jazz hands.
Good cop 2: That dancing lady emoji and a fist pump.
Finally we finish with Reebok, and here Nadja unashamedly takes the role of good cop.
Good cop: This is right in my algorithmic sweet spot as I’m slightly obsessed with sneakers and nails. This one is funny, it’s bonkers, a bit weird and therefore also memorable. For a brand that’s been struggling against its competitors, it feels like a cool step-out into entertainment.
Bad cop: It’s its own thing, but there are hints of Southern Comfort crossed with a bit of Skittles in there.
And we’re done. Think we’ve earned our doughnuts and coffee. Are you happy now, Vicky?