Founder and chief creative officer, Creature of London
Fundamentally, I believe everyone is trying their damnedest to make something good, and one of the things I’m responsible for is constantly reminding our gang to be outrageously ambitious and relentlessly courageous and to shoot for the moon. At Creature, we call it being "creatively ferocious". I think it was David Bowie who said: "If you’re going to work in an advertising agency, try to make your adverts really good, yeah?"
So, given the briefs they’re working to, have this lot been creatively ferocious? Have they aimed high?
Aldi has not aimed high. It has used the budget-friendly Brownlee brothers to compete on the price of some barbecue favourites. Everyone knows Aldi is the bargain-basement supermarket. Alistair was never going to win. And now he’s in a bin. With some ice. The prat. The whole thing is executed horribly and the "Win gold" message is confusing. It feels like the ambition to justify the brothers being there at all has been nobbled by a sack of low-budget production values and a mess of mandatories.
Next up, there’s Kayak. Which, after thumbing through "100 Strategies For Beginners", has alighted on "positivity". Tough brief. Coke has wrestled with this for decades with a network of incredible agency partners, so I was keen to see how the in-house guys would handle it. Well, it’s barely got off the ground. I’m sure it’s done a great job of getting the internal team all group-hug-weepy, but it’s long, boring and doesn’t move my cold, dead heart. Kayak is good at what it does and should be making brilliant stuff.
Aunt Bessie’s has taken aim at some low-level cloud in a self-loathing kinda way. The pair of previously lovable Brexiteers have gone giddy with power and lost their shit at a spot of diversity (I know). Having voted Leave on the new product, they find themselves out on their arse at a gloomy bus stop. It’s the stoned one I feel sorry for – the 1960s are clearly catching up with her, while the stroppy one just jeffs off. It’s nicely crafted in parts and I sense the brand is binning the old fogies for what’s to come, but I’m left with an image of old people being knobs and stuck in their ways. Which most of them aren’t.
Fair play to E.On, which has taken literal aim at the sun with a music video using solar-powered toys (and Gorillaz). Unfortunately, it has crashed into some space junk, which I’m gutted about because there’s ambition here. If you agree that making a music video for a brand is different, then this is a nice thing for an energy company, and a series of solar-powered pieces of entertainment is a nice, rich space to spend time. But this execution just doesn’t do it for me. I blame Toy Story. It set the bar horribly high.
Finally, everybody’s favourite frat-taxi company, Uber. It has aimed high with this strategy and the embattled Bartle Bogle Hegarty has done a lovely job of convincing Uber to reduce what it does down to "anywhere effortlessly". But the film execution falls short for me. Despite Kim’s best efforts (it looks hawt), this is a well-worn executional idea, which is a shame given how high the agency has aimed (and achieved) with the print work I’ve seen.
Joint executive creative director, Iris
London creativity is in intensive care. That famous wit has lost its sparkle, the eyes that shone so bright are dimmed. All the talk is that his days are numbered. So, as family and friends gather round the bedside, let’s take the old fellow’s pulse.
Uber has created an elegant film showing a couple dancing seamlessly through a night out in a stylised urban cityscape. The clever bit is that, instead of being driven from one destination to another, the protagonists simply hop in one side of a car, scramble across the back seat and hop out somewhere completely different. It’s all shot in one take, beautifully styled and makes Uber feel safe and easy to use. The pulse is strong – let’s check the other vital signs.
In Aunt Bessie’s new ad, regular spokeswomen Margaret and Mabel are coming to terms with a new range of chips made from parsnips and sweet potatoes as opposed to the traditional spud. Good performances and a nice moment when the ad breaks the fourth wall. It’s not a classic but it is a good campaign on a tough brief. Blood pressure’s fine and the patient’s still breathing.
Aldi has some great offers – even better now it has the Brownlee brothers and the theme tune from Superstars. Trouble is, the Brownlees’ best performances are in triathlons, not stage and screen, and they didn’t get a superstar to write the script. Something’s wrong. Nurse, there’s been a downturn. Get the crash cart and call the rapid response team.
Kayak is a travel-booking site calling on Europeans to film and share "love letters" to a country of their choice. Anything Europe should be perfect for social media. But it’ll take more than a few national stereotypes saying "I love you" to get people involved. It was only a year ago that 52% of this country told our European pen pals to "va te faire enculer". Our worst fears are confirmed – we’re losing him. The rapid response team has arrived. Everyone out of the room and charge the defibrillator. Clear!
Finally, we come to E.on. A film featuring Gorillaz and a thousand dancing toys, all powered by solar energy. It’s a product demo and a celebrity endorsement rolled into one. And it’s really, really good. So many brilliant moments, as soon as it’s finished you have to watch it again. Co-created entertainment that’s part-ad, part-promo, part-live event – and in a notoriously difficult category. It will turn heads, stop thumbs and get shared and talked about everywhere.
What’s that, nurse? The patient is sitting up in bed and cracking jokes? He wants to know what’s for dinner? D’you know what, I think he’s going to make it.