Chief creative officer, Kitcatt Nohr
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – well, in England before the internet – I worked on a haircare brand and had to masquerade, in print, as a celebrity Hollywood hairdresser. Rusty someone or other. He lent – sold, in fact – the brand his name and I wrote haircare tips as if from him in reply to letters from young women having bad hair lives. I was eminently unqualified for this task, but it’s how things were done back then.
What a joy, then, to see Unilever’s YouTube channel, All Things Hair, where real women get haircare advice from people who know what they are talking about. Better yet, the channel brings together several brands – a thing unheard of in the olden days at Unilever, when individual brand managers behaved like Japanese warlords, barely on speaking terms with each other and raiding each other’s budgets. All Things Hair reflects the way people mix and match brands – an idea that would have caused much gnashing of teeth back then. This is advertising for the real world.
American Greetings’ campaign for Mother’s Day is too. I played this without looking to see who it was for or why it was made, and so I spent a short time as much in the dark as the people who interviewed for the fake job. Then I twigged what was going on and got all ready to hate it, because I could see I was going to be utterly manipulated. And, sure enough, when they dropped in the cheesy music, I was stamping my feet with rage – but also, dammit, welling up. Because they got it right. Go on, you try to watch it with a dry eye. Your mother won’t let you.
I’m not fully conversant with Ryanair’s baggage policy, so I found its ad a little perplexing. It shows a woman gliding towards her flight with two bags, while the voiceover tells us she’s heading for trouble unless Ryanair has changed the rules. It turns out it has, and she can continue on her unruffled way. So that’s all right, then.
Ikea’s "kitchen carousel" made me feel sick the first time I watched it. Literally – the spinning kitchen makes you dizzy if you try to follow it too closely. Don’t do that. Look at it as a dance routine, and it’s completely wonderful. The choreography is ingenious, the music infectious, the children charming and the parents blandly asexual. It’s as close to ballet as flat-packed furniture can get.
And as an additional benefit, you get to hear how the word "Ikea" is pronounced by a person with a general-purpose Scandinavian accent. Think Ragnar Lothbrok, but as an old man, if he hadn’t been thrown into the pit of serpents. Anyway, Ikea rhymes with "trickier", it seems. That’s the Viking way.
Giffgaff’s "we’re all the boss", on the other hand, is not ballet or anything to do with Vikings. It does feature dancing, including the pole variety, and general jigging about, plus some jumping off cliffs. I am not in the target market, and full marks to the ad for alienating me immediately.
Chief strategy officer, Team News, WPP
Now I’m working with News UK, I’ve changed my perspective on the acceptable length of time required to create beautifully crafted content. We ad folk cry "impossible" when we have a few weeks; yet, at Wapping Towers, I see people who start with a blank sheet of paper every morning and, by the time they retire to Shoreditch House, they have created an entire newspaper – elegantly written and expertly edited to create more content than you can read in a day. And they do this every day, 364 days a year. It is an awe-inspiring thing to see.
And so to this week’s offering – what would make the front page and what would suffer the scourge of the editor’s pen?
Living, as I am, in temporary accommodation while a builder demolishes and (hopefully) rebuilds a significant proportion of our home, I have spent more time than is healthy considering storage and the perfect "work triangle". It’s no surprise, then, that I was drawn to the new Ikea ad when I first saw it. And what an excellent piece of communication it is too. This campaign smacks of a newfound maturity. Gone are the quirky and sometimes awkward attempts at idiosyncrasy and in their place is this beautiful and lovingly created spot. You can tell someone poured passion into every shot and you see something new with every viewing. Hold the front page.
And so on to another brand hoping to challenge preconceptions. I’ve only flown Ryanair once, on a stag do to Dublin, and the experience couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed to the picture painted here, but I guess that’s the point. These ads lack the energy and zing of easyJet’s recent work, but they are nice to watch and the refreshing honesty of the voiceover is a nice touch. Save for page six.
I don’t really understand the Giffgaff proposition and, after watching this ad, I’m none the wiser. Why do I care that it has members, not customers? Worse still, this ad feels like a series of vignettes featuring things adland thinks young people might think are cool, which gives it a kind of "dad dancing" feel. I’m sure there’s an insight in there, but I lost it somewhere between the pole-dancer and the jumping car. Not ready for print.
Lastly, we have both the present and (what Google hopes is) the future of YouTube. First up, an online "Mother’s Day" video for American Greetings that has so far amassed more than 16 million views. It’s lovely, with all the necessary elements in it to go viral. The "rug pull" is subtle enough to ensure it’s not overly schmaltzy and it made me smile. Nice piece for the lifestyle section.
Then there’s the Unilever All Things Hair channel and, finally, it becomes clear why Google wanted to buy YouTube. When you pair the world’s biggest search engine and the world’s biggest video platform, you have a brand owner’s nirvana – the chance to get your product front and centre of every single related search. It is genius and I know the guys at Google are very proud of this campaign. It’s useful, it’s entertaining and, by using well-respected content creators, it doesn’t feel like the advertisers have broken in and trampled all over the salon. I expect to see this campaign showcased at conferences and award ceremonies all year. Today’s leader in the business section.
Now, I’m off to call my mum.