Private View: Robert Campbell and Spencer McHugh


Robert Campbell

founding partner,

This is one of the most impressive bunches of commercials I have ever seen in a single Private View.

Much of this impressiveness is to do with the extraordinary time-lengths. Sixties are the new tens. Nineties the new 30s. And if some of the time-lengths we're looking at today are anything to go by, soon we will be getting commercial breaks in the middle of our commercials. They are so long.

We have a lot to thank Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Yeo Valley for.

It may be a double-dip recession out there. But, in adland, it looks like the last days of Rome. No less than three of the six press releases for this week's Private View trumpet that the commercial in question will be "premiered" during The X Factor. But is last year's standout media strategy becoming this year's media "me too"?

I really like this new 90-second ad for Thomson. The ad is charming and thoughtful. Needless to say, it "premiered" during The X Factor. It would be interesting to see the tracking study when it comes through. Will this be remembered as an ad for Thomson holidays, or just a lovely ad for holidays?

Asus and Intel. This commercial features the singer Jason Mraz. It's part of a highly ambitious global multimedia campaign called "in search of incredible".

Stylishly shot, I love the way the commercial walks a tightrope between the emotionally powerful and the plainly ridiculous. I can't work out whether I like Mraz, or I want to smack him.

It concludes with the instruction to go online and "search for incredible". But, hey. The site won't download. There's some kind of fault. Which, given the nature of the product being sold, and the title of the project, is indeed incredible. But not in a good way.

Twinings. A mere 60 seconds long, this one. According to the press blurb, "the TV ad aims to highlight the calming role Twinings can play in women's lives. It focuses on a woman's emotional journey as she struggles to navigate stormy waters at sea but is then restored with Twinings."

In spite of the patronising nature of this, I like the ad. The animation takes the curse off what could be pretty naff. It's nicely done. But I think its sensitive and emotional tone may be a little out of synch with the brash centre-break environment of The X Factor in which, surprise, surprise, it is being "premiered".

Castello. Excellent. This ad is all about Castello's founder - the extremely decadent, cheese-loving Marquis de Castello. He loved a bit of Gorgonzola with his orgy. He brought new meaning to the words "blue cheese".

I dash to Castello's website to learn more about this splendid fellow, only to discover that Castello was not invented by the Marquis de Castello at all. It was, in fact, invented by a Danish bloke called Rasmus Tholstrup. The randy marquis is just a figment of an ad agency's imagination. Shame.

McCain. Yet another X Factor "premiere". We see chips being made by a Heath Robinson-like machine. It checks the chips for crispness and fluffiness. And an abundance of semi-subliminal "heart" imagery suggests the machine also checks the chips to make sure they are good for your heart. Endline: "It's all good." Given that one in four children in the UK are now obese, you can only take your hat off to McCain for so boldly pursuing this strategy.

Department for Communities and Local Government. A campaign that simply and brilliantly reminds us to check our smoke detectors when we turn back our clocks for winter.

Of all the ads we've seen today, this is the one that should have run on Saturday night, in the first break of The X Factor.

Only a few hours before I forgot to turn my clocks back.



Spencer McHugh

marketing director,
Orange and T-Mobile

Things are still looking pretty grim - double dips, job cuts, protesters on the streets, even The X Factor's ratings are tanking. Not pretty.

What's a brand to do? Hunker down, play it safe and ride it out? Who knows, if you are lucky, you might be hanging on in there when things pick up. Or perhaps you ought to be brave, ambitious, seize the opportunity and see if you can't kick-start a bit of growth?

Tough call.

As is often the case, I think those clever folks over at Unilever have got it right with their "more magic, less logic" strategy.

Hear, hear. Spot-on. That's exactly what I reckon we need right now - good old-fashioned belief in the unexplainable power of creativity to turn things around, to get you noticed and give things a bit of a kick-start.

So, with that in mind, let's have a look in the electronic postbag and see if what we've got this week is more Dynamo than Dimbleby.

First up we have a great campaign from Thomson. The basic insight is simple and logical, that "holidays are the most precious time of all", but the magic here is all about the execution of the idea - it's the script, the production and the crafting that help elevate it away from the run-of-the-mill, cheese-fest holiday advertising that we are used to seeing. This one definitely has its head in the clouds but its feet on the ground. Nice job.

Next up is an integrated campaign from the laptop-maker Asus and Intel, which employed the services of the singer Jason Mraz to scour the globe for the most incredible stories to film and then post online. There's some quite nice content here if you scratch the surface, but it all feels a little bit complicated and difficult to engage with. As a result, it's tough to figure out why Asus and Intel are going to all this trouble - perhaps a little more logic here might have helped.

The latest Twinings campaign is a work of art - it looks beautiful and sounds great. It all feels very calm and serene, which I imagine was the brief, but it seems to lack that bit of sparkle to make it really memorable.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is trying to encourage you to check that your fire alarm is working properly, while reminding you to change your clocks back. I like the thought of tying these two fairly mundane but important tasks together. The creative is simple and effective and the message is clear, but I can't help think that the online film lacks that bit of something special to make people want to share it.

I've got a lot of time for this Marquis de Castello fella - he loves women, wild parties and cheese. The campaign is punchy as well - it feels bold, brash and a little chaotic, giving it proper standout. Good stuff.

I've been a fan of the recent McCain campaigns - it's been building nicely and the brand story has been clear and consistent. The latest instalment lifts the lid on a magical world where the chips are tested for fluffiness and other critical chiprelated qualities. The logic is all there and the magic comes through in the tone, charm and attention to detail that have gone into creating the world.

And that's your lot. Pretty good bunch this week, with the magic just about winning out. In your face, logic.