Tham Khai Meng
Worldwide chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather
I once heard a famous heart surgeon say the heart was just a pump – he could take it out and you would still fall in love. Maybe you would, but I don’t think you’d write any award-winning ads. The longer I stay in this business, the more convinced I am that the secret of great ads is emotion, touching the heart. Most of the ads this week I think had the potential to touch us, but they fell short because of a lack of ambition.
Typical was Hotels.com (4), which adopts the now familiar idea of messing about with the "skip this ad" function. The first time we saw something like this, we laughed at the cheek. But now it is a formula, so it needs great content. The problem is the content is designed to be irritating so we skip the ad. Hmmm. The interactive element is clever but, when you skip, you get the same ad with people skipping. It needs to be a lot funnier, I think. If the emotion is supposed to be very funny, then let’s get rip-roaring laughter. Comedy is one of the hardest things to write. If you can’t do it yourself and your agency doesn’t have anyone on staff, get the best comedy-writing freelancers from TV sitcoms or Saturday Night Live.
For Virgin Atlantic (2), they dug up some three-year-old tweets of people saying what their dreams were and then gave them air tickets to make the dreams come true. If it was on TV and we watched someone’s dream come true, it would move us. But here we just read about some unknown tweeter from three years ago who gets a free air ticket. Why would I want to share that? And if I don’t, what’s the point? It feels small. How do you scale it up and where is the brand ambition?
Mars (1) takes another well-worn route: the Cecil B DeMille big-budget extravaganza. In anticipation of Euro 2016, it features an invading army of English fans crossing the Channel in carnival mood. They are dressed as various English icons, along with a detachment of the Queen’s corgis. The slogan is "Believe". It doesn’t specify belief in what – "Believe England don’t get knocked out in the early stages once again", maybe. It’s quite fun but, when you throw this much money at a production, you build up an expectation in the audience of a great reward after watching it – a great pay-off. But here the gag at the end is just an English knight speaking bad French. Surely they could have shown more ambition?
A similar anti-climax attends the end of Samsung (3). It’s a worthy commercial for a product aimed at blind swimmers, but it sort of leads you up the garden path by revealing at the end a fact that makes the product seem rather mundane and pointless.
Finally, there is an ad for Radiocentre (5) aimed specifically at the CMO of Unilever, Keith Weed. The aim is to persuade him that radio is a great medium. I salute the chutzpah. But there is a potential bear trap here: a radio ad selling the virtues of radio has to be a damn fine radio ad. Otherwise, it’s like a dentist with bad teeth. But the ad itself is a rap artist declaiming the way rap artists do. Will Keith Weed be charmed by it? What if he’s more into Wagner or Verdi? Did they find out? For their sake, I hope so.
Founder and creative director, BETC
This is my first-ever Private View and I think I got pretty lucky with this week’s selection of work. It’s a good mix of silly and clever; social and tech. Only one traditional TV commercial, which says a bit about the industry today.
I must admit, I had a few laughs. If you Brits are that funny all the time, it almost makes me wish I lived on your side of the Channel.
One of our challenges at the moment is the way people watch ads on YouTube. In the past couple of years, the guys at The Martin Agency have been super-clever on this, with their "Unskipppable" ads for Geico and then recently the "Fast forward" ones. I’m always impressed when someone approaches supposed problems in a creative way. That’s why I liked Crispin Porter & Bogusky’s latest effort for Hotels.com (4). A skippable ad like we’ve never seen before. It’s super-silly; probably not that memorable but funny. Plus for playing with the preview format, minus for the slight disappointment when you realise you actually can’t skip the extremely annoying Captain Obvious.
The countdown for Euro 2016 has started; of course, every brand wants its slice of the cake. Mars (1) isn’t reinventing the category but it gave me a good laugh. Playing with clichés works well, especially when it comes to football – a matter that makes us all proud and patriotic in a good way. This TV ad reminds me of an old favourite from the 90s promoting your beloved Blackcurrant Tango – apparently, you were already taking the piss out of the French back then.
I can imagine this spot featuring English heroes will go down very well. The fact that it ridicules my own people is obviously something that I’m man enough to take. However, being French means I do sympathise with the poor little poodle, but please don’t tell anyone.
Samsung’s (3) Bluetooth vibration cap for blind swimmers is super-simple yet brilliant. It’s so nice to see clever tech solutions that are actually useful and not just marketing spoofs. The technology is currently being tested and will hopefully soon be implemented, and Samsung can pride itself in not just sponsoring the Olympic Games but actually having contributed in a relevant way.
It’s not Jay Z but it’s funny – Radiocentre (5) hopes for radio advertising to step out of the shadow of its cooler, visual cousins with this extremely personal spot. Say what you want about the quality of the rap and radio advertising in general, but we have proof that it worked when Keith Weed tweeted a reply from the PG Tips monkey!
Virgin Atlantic (2) has a really strong community management and following on Twitter, and the "#Oneday" campaign fits right into that. For a big airline company, it’s a clever move to give people that "I won the lottery" feeling and I think it’s the kind of social campaign that people will talk about.