Tham Khai Meng
Worldwide chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather
For most people, Cannes is synonymous with those celebrated storytellers: the movie-makers. But we are storytellers too – and I think we should be unashamed about it.
Storytelling is the oldest form of communication; it’s how we give meaning to the world. Each TV commercial considered here is a movie in miniature and uses the same time-honoured storytelling techniques: curiosity followed by a pay-off. Curiosity is the bit when you wonder: "What’s going on here?"
The pay-off is the key moment – it’s the Cinderella moment, the bit where she puts her foot in the glass slipper. Without it, you have no story.
Let’s see how they measure up on the Glass Slipper Index.
First up is Turkish Airlines. It starts off promisingly. Some beautiful shots of countryside, some nice-looking kids stare longingly at the planes. They decide to build a runway to entice one to land. Fairly familiar fairytale stuff. We know what the glass slipper moment will be. Their dream will come true and the plane will land, right? Nope. It flies on and lands on a proper runway beyond the hill. Cinderella doesn’t marry the prince, she gets a job in the palace laundry. I think I know what went wrong.
I bet the original script had the plane land on the children’s runway but then the health-and-safety guys said you can’t show a plane landing on a non-regulatory runway. Half a slipper.
Next, a spot for a Mitsubishi car. We see an attractive couple in an urban landscape. The things they touch become transformed. A lamp post turns into a tree, bicycles turn into ponies, fruit turns into fruit vending machines. Finally, our couple arrive at the Mitsubishi car. The Cinderella moment. What will happen when they touch the car? According to the logic of the commercial, the car should transform into something wonderful, but how can it? So what happens? They touch the doors. And then… nothing happens. The pumpkin doesn’t arrive. They drive off. Broken slipper.
Ubisoft "amazing street hack" begins with a title saying we are about to see genuine customers from a shop caught on hidden camera. Thing is, this cannot be true. A man in a phone shop installs an app on the customers’ smartphones that enables them to change the traffic lights. It results in a spectacular four-car pile-up. This is real? You kill people on camera? Then these "real" people high-five each other.
Why didn’t they run to the aid of the drivers in the crashed cars? I didn’t buy it. Wooden slipper.
Next, a spot for McDonald’s. We see kids in a night-time cityscape with some aerosol cans… I’m expecting urban art, graffiti, a walk on the wild side, something edgy and subversive. No. They run through the city painting pictograms of McDonald’s food on walls. I don’t know why. No-one ever salivated over a pictogram. No slipper, the ball is cancelled.
"#ViolenceIsViolence" for Mankind is another real-life, hidden-camera spot. We observe real people in the street. First off, a man abuses a girl. Then we see the roles reversed – the man is now the victim.
What happens? In the first spot, members of the public come to the aid of the girl. But when the girl is abusing the man, they look on and grin. As if a man being beaten is a joke. A simple fable, clearly told, and it makes its point with great power. The Cinderella moment is the super at the end: 40 per cent of domestic violence is suffered by men. Ask me next year and I bet you I’ll still remember that statistic.
Two glass slippers.
Executive creative director, Wieden & Kennedy São Paulo
Violence is violence.
Big Mac is Big Mac.
Dreams are dreams.
Good advertising isn’t advertising.
I’ve always thought that it is better to keep your mouth shut if you don’t have anything interesting to say.
Most of the time, I don’t think I have interesting enough things to be said – and yet, here I am, so I hope you find some use in my words.
I try to apply the same logic to what I do for a living.
No, you shouldn’t advertise if you don’t have anything interesting to say.
Good advertising should offer a lot more than the product it is selling.
‘#ViolenceIsViolence’* has a lot to say with a couple of hidden cameras and it has a lot to offer. It makes one think – or rethink – and it broadens the conversation of a very sore topic.
Why does one laugh when a girl hits a guy but is completely shocked when a guy hits a girl? Size? Strength? History of violence? I don’t have the answers – nor the space here to go on – but, fuck, a 30-second film hits your brain cells with lots of stimulating questions.
Another film with hidden cameras, this time to sell a new game**. Maybe it could use the Midas touch you see in the car ad***…
And then you see a film about dreaming****. And how imagination is a wonderful thing. A compelling story of pure naiveté, revisiting the "dreams come true" tale. Beautifully shot, full of emotions and many miles away from domestic violence and Big Macs.
By the way, who would have thought that Big Macs, too, can be beautiful things*****?
**** Turkish Airlines