Founder, Lucky Generals
Ah. It’s that time of year again, and love is in the air. I’ve received a little package from the St Valentine of Campaign himself, Mr Swift, and I am wondering: will it be full of industry hearts and flowers to make us all swoon? Let’s see.
Gocompare.com. Perhaps this is a very appropriate start to Valentine’s week, as this brand has finally killed off the least-loved man in British advertising. And replaced him with…? Honestly, words fail me. Perhaps I just don’t get it. Perhaps I need to order a pair of those green glasses for it all to become clear? Or to find out who/what Defaqto is? I like the notion of comparison blindness. And, on further investigation, it looks like I have been sent just one piece (perhaps the sock) of the whole ensemble. And it does make more sense if you have seen the whole thing and especially the launch ad. But is it appealing and compelling? This feels more like a date with Donald Trump than Donald Draper.
Score: Garage carnations
British Heart Foundation. Human insight is, reassuringly, still alive and well at DLKW Lowe, and they know how to appeal to the heart. This is one of those rare moments when a fresh insight has been found, despite this being an emotive and well-trodden subject. It is genuinely moving. It makes you feel and it makes you think. My only slight anxiety is that the charity market is full with little things we are all supposed to do for one day, so I hope it makes the financial impact that it deserves to make.
Score: A dozen red roses
Lexus. The people who love this brand really love this brand. It is the George Clooney of cars. So I am not sure how perfectly "on-brand" this is tonally, or if that matters. It is a cheeky, conversational use of real-time digital technology and I hope it turns heads. (Just not so far that anyone ends up on the central reservation.) Not completely new, but fun and impactful all the same.
Freeview. It’s hard not to smile and even giggle at this offering, and we all know that humour is a great way to a girl’s heart. Freddy is super-talented and his cast of innocent bystanders are very watchable. The campaign is based on a clear and compelling opinion that entertainment is better when it is free. It might just be me, and I know I am being picky, but I feel the strategy could be more tightly defined as the campaign progresses. Give it time to breathe, though, and it could be really good. Bravo.
Score: A generous Jane Packer bouquet with a cabbage in the middle
Diet Coke. I want to like an idea that comes from this wonderful, iconic (calorie-free) drink that has landed the big strategic thought of "regret nothing". I also wish I were French, having seen the casting, as we Brits just aren’t that interesting-looking. But, sadly, I think there are some things to regret in this spot. I could name a few – but let’s start with the no doubt client-driven directive to have our heroine speak into her own hair, into a can of Diet Coke and even outside of the corner of her mouth as her man opens the door in order to save money on international adapts. Come on, guys. Give the agency a fighting chance on a brand that doesn’t need to make such false economies.
Score: White lilies
So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I was looking and hoping for more to love about adland than I have been sent today. But I am not without hope that we can all come up smelling of roses.
Group chief strategy officer,
Saatchi & Saatchi
Many things in life suffer from comparison with a better, greater, funnier or sexier predecessor.
Gordon Brown, Police Academy 7, Britain’s second city, shingles, most things BlackBerry makes, Sydney’s Hyde Park, the former Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke, the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 and me compared with my wife’s ex-boyfriend Rich. You get the picture.
And I’m afraid the ads in this week’s Private View have to endure the same predicament. Whatever qualities they have in their own right are rendered flaccid in comparison with the work they follow.
The British Heart Foundation ad itself is a genuinely moving idea that records the sheer unfairness of children suffering from a heart condition that they are too young to pronounce. And if the British Heart Foundation had never made any good work, then I’d let this pass. But, you see, it has – loads of great work. The kind of work we all wish we had made and sat proudly on our reels. I like this ad. But I wish I had made Grey’s "hard and fast".
Gocompare.com has made another ad in its "taking the piss out of towns with Welsh names campaign". It’s about a bloke who has invented special glasses that dramatise the clarity Gocompare brings to the insurance marketplace. There is not one minute that goes by in which I wish I had had a hand in Gio Compario – I would rather have stabbed myself repeatedly in the leg with a fork. But just as Westlife’s cover of Uptown Girl does nothing for me beyond making me yearn for the original, this just makes me want Gio back.
The Diet Coke blurb makes much of the sudden disappearance of the hunk of spunk. I’m sure, in his way, he was as anachronistic as Michael Gove’s education reforms, but at least he was a cultural icon. What we get in his place is a woman who spawns new versions of herself every time she drinks Diet Coke, much like Gremlins do when they get wet. It’s something to do with her not regretting things. I know that because the endline says: "Regret nothing." I bet they are regretting they don’t have a strategy as compelling and conducive to good work as "open happiness".
Freeview has made some "content". That’s the word we use for ads when they aren’t very compelling. It features "Freeview Freddy", a rather unimpressive impressionist giving away cinema tickets to people who are amused by his impressions. If you haven’t seen it – and you won’t have – all you need to know is that it is to Leo Burnett’s Freeview work ("left behinds" and "#catandbudgie") as The Phantom Menace is to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
The poster campaign for the Lexus NX is slightly different. It’s properly good. Using cameras and a bloody enormous database, it enables digital posters to address oncoming drivers by calling out their make, model and colour. It’s as good as any Lexus work I can think of, but it clearly attracts comparison with OgilvyOne’s Cannes-winning British Airways poster (which I suspect was the inspiration). I’m afraid, against this, it’s found a little wanting – particularly in the charm and magic stakes. Follow-ups are always hard – just ask The Stone Roses – but we have an obligation to make sure that a client’s work gets progressively better, no matter who takes over the creative duties. Sadly, there isn’t much evidence of this in this week’s Private View. But, then again, this week’s Private View ain’t a patch on last week’s.