Yo-ho-ho. Well that's the Xmas bonhomie out the way - now down to
The observant among you will notice that my language is somewhat
moderated this week.
Let me assure you, this is entirely due to the proximity of my father,
rather than the presence of any brilliant work. A big thank you to him
for helping out this week. And Happy Christmas! (Well, it saves the
price of a stamp.)
There is some "not bad" stuff this week, so you can expect a little
goodwill to all men, etc. But let's not go mad, eh?
Je deplore Piat d'Or. It's bloody awful terrible wine and these ads do
it justice. For some reason, in a campaign that's meant to capture the
essence of France, they've used pictures of what looks like the Isle of
Wight. Waiter, I think these ads are corked.
The Audi press campaign is tempting fate, and this reviewer, with the
line "got a better idea?". Quite patently not, is the trite answer. But
I jest. Once you fight your way through the body copy, these do make
They'd certainly get your attention and that's a start.
The cut of the BBCi spot that I received on my VHS was about an hour and
a quarter longer than the one on TV. And, as is often the way, nothing
like as good. The 'finger people' tend to look either funny, beautiful
or revolting. On this cut there were more of the latter and it suffered
accordingly. This certainly grabs the attention, but the message goes in
one ear and out the other. Two fingers or a thumbs up? I'm torn.
Thorntons. Mmm. Robson Green in a box. Quite. Are we genuinely supposed
to believe these women would rather get their lips round a hazelnut
cluster rather than a ... whoops ... sorry, Dad. Can't say I'm wild
about these. In fact, I fear they may well be the Yuletide Log.
Good to see that Orange can still turn out a good-looking spot. Not
exactly new news, your text messaging, though. And, pretty soon, we'll
run out of ways to illustrate this same old story. A decent bash at it,
A nice tender moment captured well. But one I doubt will trouble the
Marks & Spencer. I have to say that the three words, or rather letters,
I was expecting at the end of this celeb-a-thon were B, B & C. It has
that "isn't Christmas lovely but we haven't actually bothered to make
any new programmes" sort of feel about it.
And, sadly, that is the message this commercial delivers by the
snow-covered bucketload. In happier times it would probably have made
you feel all cuddly about the brand, because it's a joy to behold and
full of nice things (not least of which is Zoe Ball - she'd have had no
trouble getting a room for the night). I fear, though, that in today's
harsh climate, and with the brand's somewhat dented reputation those
three little words could well be "I don't care".
But it's Christmas and perhaps we should be more generous of spirit.
This ad did make me feel all Christmassy - much like it's antecedent,
the star-spangled Woolworths ads that used that used to turn up annually
like a favourite, if somewhat senile, old aunt. M&S, the posh Woolies.
Now there's a brand positioning.
Finally, this is the time of year when man forgives his fellow man and
lets bygones be bygones. A time for reconciliation and the hand of
I have to say I was a little worried about writing this piece.
Especially when I found out there was no money involved. But my main
worry was that I wouldn't understand any of the ads. Because I'm afraid
to say that most of what you see on the box these days is just a blur of
fast cuts that's over in seconds - leaving you none the wiser.
I'm glad to say that I at least understood what these ads were trying to
sell me. Just about.
I thought the Audi ads were funny. Well, silly I suppose is a better
word. I think if I saw these in a magazine I would stop and take a
second look. As to what they are about, I had to read the copy to find
out. I wonder whether this should have been a bit bigger. I don't think
I'd have read it otherwise.
The Piat d'Or ads are trying to tell me that their wine captures the
essence of France.
So why they are showing me pictures of an anonymous coastline? The
headlines are not very original - and when I see the word "taste" I
think more of food than wine. Like father like son, I suppose. I'd have
loved to see what it said on the bottles, but that would have meant
turning the poster on its side.
Orange. What a marvellous endline - a work of pure genius, shame about
the ad. No, seriously though, this is very easy on the eye and a would
be a welcome break from the crash-bang-wallop of most ads. To be honest,
whenever I see a beautiful-looking ad without a car in I automatically
presume it is a car ad. They seem to be a breed apart. I needed to see
it twice to get the point, but in the end it made sense and I enjoyed
The BBCi ad is repulsive. Incessantly repulsive. It certainly grabs your
attention but, I think, in the wrong way. The selling message was
completely lost on me. At first I didn't even realise there was a
Thorntons felt a bit like a comedy sketch - so I feel on safe ground.
Quite funny if a little over the top. Not much else to say, really.
Finally, Marks & Spencer. This was highly enjoyable and the kind of
thing people like to see at Christmas. I'm not sure I recognise all the
people and the dub on Hugh Laurie was a bit low - but otherwise very
well made. The "three little words" idea is simple, yet clever.
When I was editing my TV shows I'd always be asking the director to hold
the shot a little longer, to simplify the edit, to make sure people
could hear the joke. It's easy to forget who you are making these things
for. And it's not other sound engineers, editors and directors. And from
watching most TV commercials it seems that the same thing happens there.
My son reliably informs me that it is the clients that force you to cram
so much in. But I'm sure that over-indulgent directors and advertising
people are guilty too.
And it's a Happy Christmas from him.
Project: Audi Foundation posters for schools
Client: Nick Broomhall, consumer events manager
Brief: Drive entries for the Audi Foundation Young Designer of the Year
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Nick O'Bryan-Tear
Art director: Al Welsh
Typographer: Ali Augur
Photographer: Pip Rook
Exposure: National schools
Project: Thorntons Christmas campaign
Client: Richard Burgess, head of advertising
Brief: Position Thorntons Continental as the ultimate Christmas gift
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Malcolm Duffy
Art director: Paul Briginshaw
Production company: Great Guns
Exposure: National TV
Client: Steve Conway, marketing director
Brief: Launch BBCi - the BBC's interactive service
Agency: Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters
Writer: Simon Riley
Art director: Tim Brown
Director: Alex Winter
Production company: In-house
Exposure: National TV
Client: Nicole Louis, head of brand communications
Brief: Stimulate use of text messaging
Agency: Lowe Lintas
Writer: Tony Barry
Art director: Damon Collins
Director: Kevin Thomas
Production company: Thomas Thomas
Exposure: National TV
Project: Piat d'Or relaunch
Client: Emma Chamberlain, marketing manager
Brief: Introduce Piat d'Or to new wine drinkers with a campaign that
captures the essence of the south of France and reflects the origins of
the number-one French wine brand
Agency: Potter Dow
Writers: Stuart Blake, Paul Delaney
Art director: Ian Potter
Typographer: John Keogh
Photographer: Ric Hawkes
Exposure: 48-sheet posters
MARKS & SPENCER
Project: Marks & Spencer
Client: Jude Bridge, head of external marketing
Brief: Reclaim Marks & Spencer's traditional role as the destination
store for Christmas
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Ben Short
Art director: Cameron Short
Director: Paul Weiland
Production company: The Paul Weiland Film Company
Exposure: National TV