Executive creative director, Fallon
Last Wednesday, I received an e-mail from Campaign inviting me to contribute to Private View. I just had to take a look at some work and write my thoughts. Great! I was happy about it. I grew up admiring the London advertising industry and, even today, after three years working here, I still feel proud and honoured to be a part of it.
So I took a look at the work, hoping to write about how amazing it was, how creative the industry is nowadays and how proud I am to be a part of it. I’m not sure I succeeded.
I honestly didn’t like most of the work I saw. There was nothing terribly wrong with it – and that is exactly why it was wrong for me. It was just OK. I didn’t admire UK advertising because it was just OK. I admired it because it was brave, innovative and creatively bold. Because it used to set standards.
Most of this week’s pieces are too similar to ads we have all seen thousands of times before. I’m not saying they are copies – not at all – but the structures, styles, ways in are just more of the same.
Well-executed? Yes. Properly written? Obviously. But no more than that.
I would have preferred to see more attempts at really creative stuff or even some mistakes.
But it was not all bad. There was some stuff I found interesting. The Sunday Times "Rich List" fat cats idea is a nice one. Especially the Simon Cowell one. I’m a simple man (you might call me basic), but I saw it and it grabbed my attention. A bit quirky, but I tend to like quirky. It worked for me. It also made me take the time to read the title!
Royal London was another one I found interesting. Especially when it comes to the tagline. At a time when it’s all about being cool and modern, I like a company that claims to be old-fashioned (for good reasons). It has a point of view – and, unfortunately, nowadays you don’t find many brands with a clear and different point of view.
I’m not sure what I can say about Morrisons. I can’t say I didn’t like it, but I can’t say I liked it either. It’s just an ad.
Something similar happened with Vodafone. As I said before, there was nothing terribly wrong with the ad. Is it a bad ad? No. Is it a good ad? I can’t say it is.
Morrisons and Vodafone are ads that look like ads, are shot like ads and are delivering advertising messages in an advertising way. A lot of people might say there’s nothing wrong with that. I 100 per cent agree – there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s right. But just being right shouldn’t be enough for the UK advertising industry.
Finally, the Labour Party. Once again, I’m not saying it drove me crazy, but I do respect the attempt at doing something different, with a different tone for this kind of message. I celebrate that attempt. I enjoyed watching the film, and it got me paying attention to things I’m not even sure I understand (I’m not a specialist in British politics, as you might imagine). I feel we all should embrace, support and celebrate attempts to be different, no matter who is doing them.
Founding partner, Fabula
We truly have really silly jobs. We’re responsible for telling the world about a product or service and ask them to care enough to consider buying or using the said product or service while hopefully making them feel good about the brand that delivers this message.
We are in the business of persuasion, and we need to persuade with charm, information, style, wit, clarity, simplicity and personality, to name a few. Often, just one of these is enough.
But we must have something to say to start with, right? Surely everything has something interesting or unique to tell us. Right, guys? Guys?
The things we have to create this personality around is often dull (insurance), not essential (digital lifestyle applications), fuel (food and drink), spare time (lifestyle choice) and politics (politics). And it just so happens that these are the things presented to me in my inbox this week. So let’s see if any of them have succeeded in their task to make me sign on the dotted line.
Let’s start with insurance. We open on a man on a donkey. He is well-cast and the shot looks great, so I’m listening. It goes a bit bonkers, but succeeds in bringing me through the narrative where people have used insurance to benefit their lives. I like it.
It tells me that Royal London is old-fashioned in a good way and it knows it, because it’s entertaining about something mind-numbingly dull. And it’s a good line too: "We’re so yesterday." Well done. Good salesmanship.
The next from Vodafone brings various performances of people acting weird in normal situations, which I can only imagine are sports fans and not deranged nutcases who should be under the old watchful eye.
It lives alongside another execution of some old people listening to music on their phones. The problem is there is no insight here for the execution to play with and therefore relies on performance, which then makes it more staged and, unfortunately, slightly empty. It’s tough because mobile-phone networks are more and more commoditised these days, and this reinforces that because I get no sense of the brand values.
Next in line is Morrisons, which wants to persuade me that it’s squeezing into a space between Aldi, Lidl and Asda and that, for some reason, cheaper is better. I can’t argue with that, but it does feel as though the execution is a combination of a couple of ideas, one lifestyle-oriented and the other a "hand-made, quality" proposition. Which one is it, lads? Because the indecision betrays the brand promise.
The next out of the box is a print campaign for The Sunday Times Rich List and it works really well. Let’s take the household-name super-rich villains and heroes and turn them into fat cats. It’s simple, insightful, clever, funny and well-made. Full marks. Also, it’s proof that, after ruling the internet, cats are now branching out.
Watch out, 10 Downing Street. I think cats will be more feared than the Labour Party after this execution about hard-working people being better off under Labour. It’s a hard one, this. What it proves to me is that tit-for-tat politics is not what I want to see or hear. I want to know what your point of view is and what it means for me. Just look at UKIP. Forget B-movies, that would be a horror.