Chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi
Arrrrgh, it’s the Thursday morning after the night before, and we’re fresh(ish) from looking at the Big Awards winners of the past year. I always like to think of these post-awards days as the start of the year. A whole year to make our work better. Come on, we can do it.
Now, I suspect that this week’s round-up of work might not be picking up any awards next year, but that’s not to say that it’s without potential.
The SSE film featuring an orangutan is nicely done. No, sorry, that isn’t fair – it’s really nicely done. When I first caught this on telly, I liked it, but I wasn’t sure what it was for. Now I’ve looked at it again, I’m still not sure what it’s for. SSE is, apparently, proud to make a difference. But just what that difference is, I’m afraid I still don’t know.
Snickers has a really nice campaign idea, "you’re not you when you’re hungry". This is a great, simple idea to write work to and, like the previous Joan Collins ad, this Mr Bean one isn’t bad at all. Still, it feels to me that this campaign has not yet reached its full potential. It could and should be great.
I walked past a NatWest branch yesterday and there were jolly posters in the window saying "HELLO", reminiscent of TSB’s launch last year. Then I saw the TV ad, which uses the "goodbye" song from The Sound Of Music (I’m rather miffed about this as we have just presented an idea with the same track) and shows people saying goodbye to the things that they are glad to see the back of. Some goodbyes, it explains, feel good, such as goodbye to giving all the good offers to new customers. Goodbye unfair banking, hello NatWest.
This is a feel-good spot and, even though I was convinced it was a Volkswagen ad until the end (something to do with the way it’s shot and the track), I like it. It’s not going to pick up any awards, but I should think it will create a nice warm glow around the brand, and that can’t be a bad thing.
"Hooray," they were shouting around Hatton Garden when they won the Volvo pitch. "Oh, shit," they were muttering as the Volvo Trucks spot won every Grand Prix known to man. Tough one.
Their first work asks us what it is to feel something. It tries to evoke a feeling with a filming style that sees the camera put through the same experience as the woman in the film – in this case, a miserable cold ocean in order to catch a wave. This is always a tough one to pull off and I’m left feeling that it ends up being style over content. However, I suspect there is much more to come in this campaign and I look forward to seeing where it goes next.
Finally, World First is a money-transfer service, and Mr First is a totally new Mr Men character from the 70s children’s books and TV show. Here, he is used to show that he is smart and always on it compared with any of the other poor old Mr Men, who are still queuing up in banks to transfer their money.
Actually, this Little Miss Scatterbrain thinks this Mr First is a bit of a smarmy Mr Tosser. It is a good old-fashioned comparison campaign, which I’m sure will do the job, but I’m afraid it won’t be troubling the juries.
So we have a year to get going, to beat the best, to out-Volvo Volvo, to fly higher than British Airways. Good luck. Happy New Year.
Group executive creative director,
Mr Darcy, Mr Micawber, Mr Johnson, Mr Chips, Mr Benn, Mr Potato Head, Mr Punch, Mr Spock, Mr T, Mr Magoo, Mr Mackay, Mr Tracy, Mr Bond, Mr Brightside.
There’s no denying that there is a veritable treasure chest of misters for advertisers to plunder. So why would the Snickers team have chosen to use Mr Bean? He’s so dated, so culturally moribund and, above all, so wrong for the brilliant "you’re not you when you’re hungry" campaign. I assume that he has been chosen because he’s hapless. But that’s not true to the insight that informs the original idea.
People aren’t hapless when they’re hungry. They’re moody, irritable and recalcitrant. And no amount of weasel phrases such as "you lose focus when you’re hungry" will help because it’s not true. That’s why the original Aretha Franklin/Joe Pesci work is so good – it absolutely nails an irrefutable human truth about hunger that Mr Bean can’t help but fail to do.
Meanwhile, Mr V, Mr C, Mr C and Mr P are at it too with a print campaign for World First featuring Mr Men. As with every Mr Men campaign, this one introduces us to some new characters – in this instance, we have "Mr First", the conveniently named brand spokesman. Then there’s "Mr Blind", the unrigorous art director, and "Mr Repetitive", the unimaginative copywriter. Of course, I’m being "Mr Cruel". But, at best, borrowing interest like this is lazy. Not bothering to craft it is indefensible.
From misters to misses. In this case, it’s the new campaign from SSE that misses the mark. Now, hands up, we lost this pitch to Adam & Eve/DDB last year. So, for a non-sour grapes view, I suggest Dominic Mills’ MediaTel piece, "The ad that gives the industry a bad name" – he had nothing to do with the pitch.
Anyway, I digress. The film tells the story of a curious orangutan who, having wandered the streets of the big smoke marvelling at all the ways energy companies such as SSE are destroying its habitat, returns to the rainforest to tell its newborn that its future is fucked. "Proud to provide energy to five million British homes and businesses," the self-congratulatory voiceover crows. The only thing this has a right to be proud of is the CGI orangutan – it’s astonishing. But why an orangutan in the first place? Surely, such shameful corporate chest-beating would have been better-suited to a gorilla?
Those cheeky monkeys at Volvo play a trick on us in the new film for the XC60. Following the usual clichéd interior and exterior shots of the car on the usual clichéd beach, we find the usual clichéd surfer with his back to the camera waiting for the usual clichéd wave. But, wait. It’s not a him, it’s a her. I guess the clichés had to stop somewhere. Sadly, not in the endline – "Seek feeling" is one of those empty Euro-lines that (helped by some exceptional ocean-like sound design) leaves me "feeling seek".
Further nausea is caused by the latest offering from NatWest. The sickeningly saccharine family von Trapp sing So Long, Farewell while rictus-grinned people from Adtopia wave goodbye to house guests, boyfriends and neighbours. It’s dramatising the company’s ongoing commitment to ridding the world of unfair banking. To its credit, it’s single-minded enough. I just wish it was executed with the integrity and authenticity that a strategy like this so desperately requires.
So, all in all, an uncharacteristically damning view of this week’s work. Maybe it’s because I’m hungry? I’m off to Mr Chow’s…