PRIVATE VIEW: Robert Campbell, the joint executive creative director at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Look at these two ads. One is for AOL8.0. The other for O2. On paper, they'd be pretty similar. Both made it through copious rounds of research. The storyboards for both looked pretty buttoned down at the pre-production. The production budgets were in the same ballpark.

The words of the voiceovers are similar. And each commercial uses a strong, simple and slightly poetic MVO. The music for both is based around a simple theme on piano.

And ultimately, both commercials are advertising a pretty similar sort of brand and product. Both attempt to make the intangible tangible.

So why are the commercials so different? Why is one so pedestrian, the other so inspiring? One has voodoo. One don't.

Warning. What you are about to read may cause panic in some marketing departments. Not to mention advertising agencies.

Ultimately, what a good advertising practitioner sells his client is something that might best be described as voodoo. Voodoo is a heady concoction of talent, experience, intellect, contacts, reputation, confidence, instinct, magic and random luck. You can't legislate for voodoo. You can't weigh it or measure it. Not every advertising person can deliver it. Not every client can buy it. And consumers aren't very good at spotting it in research groups.

Voodoo is an instinct for doing what feels right. And sometimes what feels wrong. It's beauty. It's timing. It's sexiness. It's emotion. It's wit, charm and impact. It's good taste. It can be bad taste. It's not being scared to provoke. It's getting rhythm and pace just so in a restricted time space. Weaving sound and vision together. It's being able to say exactly what you want to say on behalf of a brand but, as John Hegarty would say, doing it with style. Voodoo is a rare commodity.

And if you get it right, voodoo builds brands and flogs product like crazy. It may be voodoo, but it's worth serious cash.

Learndirect. A little animated character hops around the classified job section of a newspaper. She explains that Learndirect can help you learn new skills and get a new job. It's sweet enough. But has it been blessed by the advertising witch doctor? Nah.

Lipton Iced Tea. A brave strategy. The voiceover goes like this: "Once you've got your head around the cool refreshing taste of Lipton's Iced Tea, who knows what else you might discover a liking for. Retro hairstyles.

Beige. Older women. Belgium. Going commando! Lipton's Iced Tea. Don't knock it till you've tried it." You can imagine the visuals. Again, it's sweet enough, but it's not Tango Orange Man. That was serious voodoo.

VW Polo. I'm beginning to find VW's advertising format rather over-reliable.

But everyone else still seems to like it. So I'll keep my views to myself.

A campaign that has had high voodoo scores in the past. Cheesestrings. The product's name is a descriptor more than a brand name. And therefore lacks voodoo. The ad attempts to make up ground by showing a young boy conning his mother into believing he has acute calcium deficiency. He needs Cheesestrings. He gets them. It would be more than OK if it weren't for the fact that the smug kid's final line is "sorted". Self-conscious, voodoo exorcising "yoof" dialogue.

(See Campaign Screen. Gosh. What a fine commercial.

And who is that actor playing the psychotic creative director? He has voodoo! Boy, does he have voodoo! Not since Jack Nicholson hacked his way through the hotel room door in The Shining growling "Heeerrrrre's Johnny" have I seen such a devilish, and inspired performance. I wonder what his agent's number is?


Project: "Jogger" and "Take away"

Client: Catherine Woolfe, communications manager, small cars

Brief: Reiterate Volkswagen's price realignment on certain models

Agency: BMP DDB

Writer: Matt Lee

Art director: Peter Heyes

Director: Dominic Murphy

Production company: Partizan

Exposure: National TV


Project: Cheesestrings

Client: Dennis O'Riordan, marketing director, Kerry Foods Cheese

Brief: Maintain the slightly anarchic but fun heritage of the

Cheesestrings brand, while communicating that they are also a healthy

alternative to conventional snacks

Agency: Quiet Storm

Writer: Becky Clark

Art director: Trevor Robinson

Director: Kevin Chicken

Production company: Quiet Storm Films

Exposure: National TV


Project: Learndirect

Client: Phil Wade, director of marketing

Brief: Make adult education seem more relevant and less daunting

Agency: DFGW

Writers: Joanna Perry, Damon Troth

Art directors: Joanna Perry, Damon Troth

Director: Chris Shepherd

Production company: Slinky Pics

Exposure: National TV


Project: O2 brand campaign

Client: Will Harris, vice-president, marketing

Brief: Communicate the O2 philosophy

Agency: Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest

Writer: Rooney Carruthers

Art director: Rooney Carruthers

Director: Daniel Barber

Production company: Rose Hackney Barber

Exposure: National TV


Project: Lipton Iced Tea

Client: Fiona Forbes, senior brand manager

Brief: Encourage trial of Lipton Iced Tea by tackling taste and product


Agency: J. Walter Thompson

Writer: Ryan Lawson

Art director: Andy Smith

Director: Brian Baderman

Production company: All Films

Exposure: National TV and cinema

AOL 8.0

Project: AOL 8.0

Clients: Sharon Lang, vice-president of marketing; Clare Hill, head of

brand, AOL UK

Brief: Announce the launch of AOL 8.0

Agency: Mortimer Whittaker O'Sullivan

Writer: Leigh Wallace

Art director: Neale Horragan

Director: Gerald McMorrow

Production company: Tomboy Films

Exposure: National TV