Private view: Jonathan Burley and Elspeth Lynn


Jonathan Burley

Executive creative director,
CHI & Partners

Forgive me, but I’m going to skip lightly across much of the work this week. I do admit to feeling guilty about this. No ad is created without effort, and the most banal of campaigns are lustily conceived; when that brief first comes in, none of us can wait to get its knickers off, can we? Even if it’s for a 20-second radio ad, we’ll put a bag over its head and pretend to ourselves that a silver for wireless at the FAB Awards will make it worth putting the balls to. In truth, we all give a shit about the things we make, and my brevity implies no disrespect to the people behind the work below – I simply have a finite amount of words to play with, and there is one extraordinary film in particular I wish to dwell upon. So:

Everline  – the voiceovers struggle to fulfil their wry ambitions, but one of the executions does feature a pug with its tongue poking out. Baileys – an updated Nutcracker that takes place in TOWIE’s Sugar Hut, heaving with vajazzled pudenda and the heavy scent of Lynx Africa. It reaches a little too hard for cool and slightly embarrasses itself by posturing in a shirtless, leather waistcoat. Sony PlayStation – nicely produced but undermined with a portentous voiceover, and a little pallid compared with the more excellent "perfect day" spot from Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York. Google Nexus  – a dingily sentimental slice of meh, with a soundtrack and mise en scène that remind me unpleasantly of miners’ strikes and Findus Crispy Pancakes.

Which leaves me with Volvo. I’ll state with hand on black and withered heart that this may be the funniest advertisement I have seen – ever. Side-splittingly, eye-bleedingly, perineum-rippingly funny. The sort of funny where you think about it just as you’re drifting off to sleep and you wake yourself up by laughing hysterically all over again. That sort of funny. And the best thing is – I’m not 100 per cent convinced it’s meant to be.

Him Indoors thinks I’m a bit of a dick for being unsure about this. True, Him Indoors thinks I’m a bit of a dick for many things, including my cheap taste in denim and my unwholesome affection for my step-cat, but there is indeed solid evidence for this argument. So many touches of subtle comedic genius throughout the film: Enya; the constipated expression on Jean-Claude’s mask-like face as his hips begin to unlock; "A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics…" – such things point to a sure and highly amused hand behind both script and camera, do they not?

But. Those end titles. The previous "straight" ads in the Volvo Trucks campaign. The po-faced behind-the-scenes films. The 30,000 awestruck YouTube comments without one single use of "LMFAO". JCVD’s own comment that the ad is "very majestic and very powerful"… It’s all rather troubling.

Yet it doesn’t matter, does it? With 50 million people watching it online and sharing it with any fucker who hasn’t firewalled them, who cares whether it was intended to be funny or not? The actual point here is that not one real person will go online to watch the Everline spot, or the Baileys ad, or the Google Nexus TV commercial that seems to be haunting my Sky+ box at the moment. They will instead – just like me – be watching Jean-Claude Van Damme pop his nuts up by his ears as the sun sets and the trucks drive backwards and Enya sings her little Irish heart out, over and over and over again. Job done.


Elspeth Lynn

Executive creative director,
M&C Saatchi

I find myself getting slightly jealous of videos/films that create a social tidal wave online. It has become addictive to want to be YouTube-viewed. It’s our newest KPI.

But there are caveats. Does knowing something has been viewed often beget more views, simply because we must see what 50 million others have? Is media "buying" views that a spot would never have got organically? Is there clever seeding that shoves a spot into the crowd? Should we be more concerned about the right people seeing your video, instead of loads of people who aren’t your target? I say a resounding "yes" to all of the above.

However, I do think it’s important to know what people latch on to online. Is the crowd wise? Do they view what we consider to be a "good" ad? Let’s see if there’s a correlation between the most-viewed and the best work this week.

Volvo – 50,113,735 views. By an online mile, the latest Volvo Trucks spot gets the most views and even knocked the John Lewis spot out of first place. This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo dynamic steering. (Even the Rob Ford parody has 1,143,000 views.) It’s hard to beat a powerful demo, especially when it involves Mr Van Damme being tested in the most excruciating way amid the calm and dulcet tones of Enya. This is brilliant.

Baileys – 866,015 views. One doesn’t get much more epic than the Royal Ballet, The Nutcracker, the brilliant Ringan Ledwidge, an open-minded client and the emotion of Christmas. All carefully crafted to the frame by the extraordinary talent at Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The curiosity and PR alone will drive views, but I can’t help feeling this extravaganza is attached by a delicate silken thread to Baileys. It’s interesting and beautifully executed, then kind of funny with its "better with the girls" stance. I just wish the thought/endline led me more directly to Baileys.

Google Nexus – 824,482 views. Having Google as your client assures your views will be high.

However, I do think you would have to be pretty hardened not to be a bit glassy-eyed with this spot. A genuine, heartfelt demonstration of why people are embracing technology. Only thing is, showing the emotional benefits of technology is now becoming the norm. So you have to be the first with whizzy technology, or have the best story.

Sony PlayStation – 16,516 views. Sometimes, you make a decision to be so targeted that only your target truly appreciates it. This would be one of those cases and, I imagine, the right call. A promotion around this video challenged gamers to find the amount of gaming references within it. (Apparently, the answer is 1,009. I think I recognised three.) It’s nostalgic for the target and probably has the highest percentage of "quality views". It has social currency baked in. Gamers, being a naturally competitive bunch of people, probably love this. I would not be one of them.

Everline – 887 views. Credit on your command. The need illustrated by a hairdresser I wouldn’t let anywhere near my tresses. I understand the quirky humour it is trying to do, but the cheap sets and awkward acting unfortunately don’t work. I sense a struggle. Somewhat with the budget. Mostly with the idea.

Although there are sure to be exceptions, I think, to a certain degree, there is a correlation between the strength of the idea and the amount of corresponding views. For the most part, the crowd is, indeed, wise.