John Allison and Chris Bovill
Joint heads, 4Creative
Lesbian kisses at teatime and vicars on ecstasy. Whatever you say about Channel 4, it’s built on taking creative risks with its programmes. A very clever man called Alex Noble argues: "Risk is essential. No-one feels inspired by staying within the safe and comfortable." If putting your work out there doesn’t give you a bit of "squeaky bum time" (to paraphrase another Alex) then, clearly, you’re not doing anything different. So with that in mind…
Land Rover. The Lions print is another "thing that looks like another thing" ad. Therefore, it’s an ad that looks like a load of other ads. Zero risk and zero impact. Just buy some actual lions and release them on Ramsay Street. Much better.
Halifax. We’re glad the marketing choir has been ditched. You wanted a house to fall on them just to shut them up. Halifax has taken a bit of a punt and started again, but it has gone for the old make-a-hero-out-of-the-average-Joe routine (the best example being the brilliant Starbucks "GLEN GLEN GLEN" ad). However, there’s an inadvertently hilarious moment halfway through the homage to Mark the amateur coach when a disclaimer pops up warning of the risks of missing mortgage payments. It might as well read: "Hey, Mark. You’re awesome. BUT IF YOU DON’T KEEP UP YOUR PAYMENTS, KISS YOUR HOUSE AND YOUR KNEECAPS GOODBYE." By trying to play it safe and make home-buying all warm and fuzzy, Halifax has only highlighted how terrifying it can be. The only risk being taken here is by the poor sod in the ad.
One For The Boys is a serious charity ad. Serious dudes with serious faces in front of a serious white background because, as Snap!’s Turbo D rapped, "cancer is serious". Also, the insight that men don’t talk about medical stuff is seriously predictable. Just like Samuel L Jackson’s choice of headwear.
The NSPCC. This is a bit ballsy (and also a bit front-bottomy). Getting kids to name their privates certainly grabs your attention. We once overheard a woman telling her young son to stop playing with his "tail". Very confusing. Poor kid probably grew up thinking his penis was for swatting flies.
Anyway, back to the ad…The execution is cutesy and nicey-nice, but there’s zero understanding of this so-called "underwear rule". We’re both parents and we’ve never heard of "the underwear rule" and, as parents, we’re busy so can’t be arsed (fannied, todgered) to check it out online. So people may giggle at kids saying "willy", but that will be the end of it. It’s the old entertain-and-inform technique, but it forgot to inform. It’s frustrating because it had something quite brave, but pulled its punches.
O2 wants us to "be more dog".
Thanks, O2. We think you’re right. The internet is a raging bestial love frenzy, so a cat being a dog means that this should go viral. Let’s hope it pushes this idea further. "Be more colossal squid" or "be more tapeworm". O2 has burst its bubbles and made something different. That’s risky for such a big brand and gets our tails wagging (back-tail, not front-tail).
Group chief executive and group chairman, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
From private parts and rugby to football coaches and catch, this week’s selection could have been "balls". But, instead, we see a collection of intelligent insights, lateral leaps and well-crafted creativity.
The male cancer foundation One For The Boys adopts an interesting approach by attempting to break silence with silence: a technique we used to powerful effect in the 1994 Bob Hoskins "frustrating" ad for BT. Here, silence is also used to dramatise the problem that men don’t talk, in this case, about cancer. It’s apparently not a manly thing to do. Yet, by talking about it, more men can be screened and treated, and losses can be avoided.
Samuel L Jackson chairs the foundation and fronts the ad. Clients in ads can be tricky but, hey, when your client is Samuel L Jackson, you would be crazy not to cast him. Good job by The Black Arts Company, which did the whole thing pro bono.
Tactical ads have always been used as a platform for brands to get involved in culturally relevant conversations. The past few weeks have given us bags of opportunity to seize the moment as we bask in the glory of sunshine, Andy Murray, the British & Irish Lions and the England cricket team. As the official sponsor of the Lions, Land Rover rightfully claims the win, takes a dig at the Aussies and indulges in a joyful, well-timed and well-justified moment of triumphalism.
The Adam & Eve/DDB Halifax spot moves the campaign in a new direction. Out with the colleague choir song and in with the insight that those who give extra in life deserve extra back. It’s the story of a school football coach. The extra he puts in is rewarded with his first mortgage from Halifax and we are reminded – not entirely subtly, in a huge title covering the screen – that a Halifax first-time-buyer mortgage is offered every three minutes. There are some good observations and a cinematic charm reminiscent of the McDonald’s work. Nicely done.
Inferno and the NSPCC have worked wonders to tackle the topical, tricky and serious subject of abuse prevention in a sweet and playful film. The ad is promoting "the underwear rule", whereby kids should be educated not to touch or be touched in areas normally covered by underwear. It encourages parents to talk to their kids about it and the film charmingly lists the nicknames kids give their private parts. There is an innocence and vulnerability in the idea that so vividly contrasts the vile problem it is trying to eliminate – and it works.
And last, but by no means least, the best of this week’s offerings is an ad that’s already shaping up to be a classic, with a great line to go with it. O2 and VCCP obviously agreed with the Canadians that "catvertising" is a sound brand strategy, casting an aloof, slightly weird yet utterly magnificent cat in their latest film, which encourages us to take a less aloof and dispassionate approach to technology/life and "be more dog". Well done, that copywriter. It’s a brilliant, funny and uplifting line, as is the execution that goes with it – beautifully executed, seamlessly integrated on- and offline (love the frisbee game) and bursting with entertainment value. This will run and run, just like the cat/dog.
And it’s a pretty good message for adland as we head into summer, buoyed by encouraging adspend predictions, burgeoning confidence, sunshine and sporting triumph. Definitely time for us all to be more dog.