Richard Denney and Dave Henderson
Executive creative directors, DLKW Lowe
You know that feeling you get when you think you’ve cracked it. The idea that’s going to stun the boss, the account team, the planner and the client. The idea that’s going to make you all famous. The golden balls of ideas. Your "grrr".
Well, we can never get truly excited unless we’ve first run the idea through the ultimate test… it’s called "What does your missus think?" Granted, it’s not quite as thorough as something from Millward Brown but, believe us, sometimes it can be equally as devastating.
Now, Michelle Denney and Sarah Henderson have been doing this for years and, if you think they’re tough here, please remember they’ve been breaking our hearts for 16 years. At first glance, Mrs Denney thought The Sunday Times Best Dressed List was part of the O2 campaign featuring Beyoncé. Is regal the new fashion, she asks. Her clear favourite is Kate Moss and she agrees that Posh would love to be the queen of style. However, she feels the other two executions are weaker, not recognising Tinie Tempah at first. But she likes the campaign, as does Mrs Henderson, who finds it eye-catching and thought-provoking, if perhaps not brilliant.
Next up is Weetabix. Now this has got Mrs D smiling and laughing. Very memorable, she states. She loves the casting and entertaining tension between the kids. Very insightful. Her only quibble is that she doesn’t really get chocolate out of it. Mrs H is not so sure, though, finding it all a bit predictable and also quite irritating. She thinks the direction is a bit clunky, in particular the casting, and feels that any kids’ cereal logo could have popped up at the end. So, bit of a mixed reaction.
Switching into full ECD mode, they digest the Virgin Trains print. This has Mrs D very confused. Why 50s-style art direction? She likes the look of them but, as Virgin hasn’t been around since then, is puzzled. Are the staff going to be dressed in 50s clothing, she asks. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Mrs H considers them cheerful posters that make you feel good about train travel. Although they use retro graphics, they still feel somehow modern to her.
Another film, this time for Vision Express. Mrs D puts her "Barry Norman" head on and comments: "That’s in your face… but the first guy looks weird and why is Heston in it other than for the fact that he wears glasses? It lacks a designer feel and those horrible graphics at the end make it feel cheap in a bad way." Mrs H slowly shakes her head as she views it and says: "It could be for any specs shop. It feels cheap and instantly forgettable. And the ‘jiggedy-jiggedy’ camera technique makes me feel sick." Ouch. They can be quite cutting, these film critics.
At the mention of Reebok, Mrs D is excited. But her face changes rapidly as the film progresses. "OMG, that’s awful," she barks. "What on earth was that all about? That was like watching some BBC children’s drama in the 90s. It doesn’t make Reebok feel ‘now’, does it? Kids won’t like this." And, sadly, Mrs H laments that it leaves her flat cold: "Ironically for a sports shoe, it has no energy and the acting is totally wooden. I hope it didn’t cost a lot of money?" Oh dear.
So there we are. If you’ve dreamt up your "big one" this week, do remember to show it to the people whose opinion really matters. Enjoy the rest of your week.
Creative director, Lean Mean Fighting Machine
Weetabix. Mary Swanson, aged two, morbidly obese: "I fucking love this product! Back in the day, I used to hide chocolate up my anus so Mum wouldn’t suss me – now it’s hidden inside freaking Weetabix! And Mum buys this shit! No questions asked. Adults are fucking mugs. LOL!
"This ad hit all the right buttons: it was fast-paced and exciting. I did at some point have a couple of heart palpitations but, thankfully, the antibiotics in the processed meat hidden inside the crust of my pizza calmed me down."
Reebok. Gerald Lind, 42, drug-dealer, High Wycombe: "In ’83, I used to hide skunk in my Reebok Classics. But, back then, any running we did wasn’t to some nightclub in Heaven, like in this ad, it was into a friend’s Mini Metro to skin up and listen to Haircut One Hundred.
"I doubt anyone who made this ad was alive in ’83. If they had been, they’d know that street kids were nowhere near as fit as they’re portrayed here. Most of the ones I knew had a 20-a-day Curly Wurly habit – and that’s on top of all the dope! But I suppose that’s advertising: the past ain’t what it used to be. Which reminds me: my old teacher had an orthopaedic shoe. We used to say she was wearing Reeblocks. I still think that’s the most memorable thing I’ve heard about Reebok."
Vision Express. Tom Longly, 45, unemployed: "They say never hit a man in glasses. But this didn’t stop my ex-wife. Or her son. But I feel better for seeing this ad. I liked the music and I shouted out when I spotted that famous cook – I would have liked a bit more of him.
"The other day, I was on my bike listening to Anthony Robbins’ Personal Power and I ran into the back of a parked car. I hit the floor and, as I patted the ground for my glasses, a shout echoed through my ears: ‘Should have gone to Specsavers, mate. HA HA HA HA.’ I held up what was left of my glasses and saw that it was a police car leaving me in its dust. I don’t think this Vision Express ad will penetrate the social consciousness to such a degree."
Virgin Trains. Lisa Lovenut, 16.75, head of Digital Acceleration and Integrated Inspiration 3.0: "Here we see the new appropriating the old, but not being as inspirational or integrated as the old. We need to ask: should we be advertising at all? Or should we be making things worth advertising?
"Let’s forget for a moment that the trains are the product and need advertising and, instead, bring some Nike+ to the situation. Regardless of the problem, what product doesn’t earn advocacy via creating another product?
"Content drives brand advocacy – are we getting any of this with a poster? Will anyone having to stand on a train even see this? But I bet we could hit them with an app! We should really look into what we can do with Friends Reunited and build some ideation buzz here. Maybe crowdsource something. Then add some storytelling. These ads do look nice, though."
The Sunday Times. Michael Meadows, 28, care worker: "I don’t read The Times and I don’t really like fashion. But that image of Kate Moss as the Queen – well, I’ve always said, when pushed, that I’d shag the Queen. What man wouldn’t? It’s the Queen! So this poster is every man’s fantasy in one image. All it needs is Mirren’s tits."