Tham Khai Meng
Worldwide chief creative officer; chairman, Worldwide Creative Council, Ogilvy & Mather
What do they want me to do? That is always the thought that runs through my mind when looking at ads. Sometimes, of course, I ask: what were they smoking? But, usually, I’m wondering what all the money is being spent in aid of. It’s easy for creatives to lose sight of this fundamental question. I’ve been guilty of it too, so I’m not being holier than thou here.
This week, we have a fistful of ads utilising a variety of techniques, from traditional to contemporary, but this question unites them all.
At the traditional end of the spectrum, we have a series of exquisite films from China. Two beautifully crafted cameos, filled with sadness and wistfulness, telling me searing truths about modern life. They use the artistry of cinema to the max, they touch me deeply, they urge me to stop, take stock and cherish the people I love. I’m deeply moved and will do anything they want. Just tell me where to send the money.
It’s a charity, right? No, it’s for China Central Television. I’m not sure what I am supposed to do or feel now. I said there were two beautiful commercials. There are actually three in the campaign, but the third wasn’t in the same league as the others. I call this Third Ad Syndrome, where the team don’t really have a third idea, but they shoot one anyway. Much better to put the money into production, I feel.
Next up, we have Peta’s film using a CGI chimp. It is pointing a gun to its head and the voiceover tells us how badly chimps are treated in TV- and movie-making. OK, that’s a noble cause – but the execution, I’m afraid, doesn’t really touch me emotionally. The concept of the suicidal chimp feels a bit contrived. I can’t help thinking of a CGI animal masterpiece from a few years back: the Leo Burnett "space chimp". That one set the bar very high – it was done with flawless execution, a great soundtrack and a narrative with real emotional power. A very tough act to follow.
There is no doubt what the "hero hug" commercial for Fiat wants me to do. Buy some seat-belt covers that resemble the hands of cartoon superheroes to encourage my kids to belt up in the back. OK, it does its job, but it doesn’t set the world on fire. Fun for a while, perhaps, but not a big idea.
The last two this week are both based on social media and interactivity. The Dunkin’ Donuts one is apparently designed to solve a problem in Korea that a lot of young people skip breakfast. Partly, it says, because they are too lazy or too busy. Now all you have to do is programme your smartphone before going to bed as part of a five-step process to getting your breakfast. Anyone see a problem here? Who is going to go through all that rigmarole in order to buy a doughnut? Not me, I’m afraid. I prefer the old-fashioned method. Step one: walk into store and buy a doughnut. No smartphone needed.
A similar problem besets the spot from Puma, which urges viewers to learn a new language of dance and create messages to send to their friends. Great dancers, great moves, great choreography. But what does it have to do with running shoes? Then I notice it’s not for shoes at all. It’s for a new line of Puma fragrances. Shoe, dance, fragrance… it’s a difficult conceptual leap. This feels like a missed opportunity. Learn a new language? That sounds like hard work. So I have to say: nein, danke!
Vice-president of global advertising strategy and creative excellence, Coca-Cola
The 60th anniversary of the Cannes Lions is an important year for Coca-Cola. As a result of the great work that a lot of agencies create with us, we are this year’s Creative Marketer of the Year. This is an honour we are incredibly proud of and incredibly grateful for. Thank you.
To mark this important milestone, we chose a company theme for our presence this year and that theme is #workthatmatters. So it is with this lens that I review this body of work. Does this work matter? If so, why? And if not, why not? Brace yourself.
China Central Television. This is #workthatmatters. China is an incredible market. I do not know of another set of Millennials and Gen-Xers who work as hard as those in China. Now, with every boom comes a bust, and a lot of China’s older folks are in pain. This strong body of work tells the story of what gets left behind. Although the narratives could be a little tighter, this work is touching, heartfelt and sincere. And, for China, very emotional. It was a brilliant brief and the agency nailed two out of three films. One, "take away", is a shameful steal of the not-to-be-beaten McDonald’s "my name is Karen" ad and, as such, brings the potential impact of this work way down. Shame.
Peta. #thisworkshouldmatter. The brief is an important brief. Sadly, the work lets it down. The script lacks the potency of a stream of thought leading up to a suicide. At the end of the film, I felt depressed yet not really compelled to do anything.
Fiat. #thisworkshouldmatter. The brief, child seat-belting, is important. The idea is brilliant. But the execution is clumsy. I have four goddaughters aged between one year and 14, and none of them would think this execution cool enough to use. One of the lessons I learned at Bartle Bogle Hegarty London is this: great marketing always adds up to more than 100 per cent (ie. 75 per cent idea and 75 per cent execution). This idea falls way short on the latter and that’s a shame.
Puma. This is #workthatmatters, not because it is going to change the world for the better, but because it completely disrupts the norms for fragrance marketing. Bravo. It’s big and brave and entirely on-brand.
That said, it talks pretty much exclusively to the epicentre of dance culture and I don’t think it will scale broadly to become mainstream enough to help establish Puma in arguably the world’s most competitive category.
Dunkin’ Donuts. This is definitely mobile #workthatmatters. We all know our entire world is heading mobile. Increasingly, I evaluate all ideas on whether or not they will work on a three-and-a-half-inch screen. Great mobile communication has to deliver four core principles: 1) relevancy; 2) utility; 3) sociability; and 4) value. This use of mobile technology is a marketer’s dream come true. I have spent time in Korea and it doesn’t surprise me that this campaign is blowing up all over the country. Finally, a brand is demonstrating a real reason for being in the most intimate of media – mobile. Ad folk and marketers, take note. This is benchmark excellence in mobile communication.
Finally, thank you for taking time with me today. If you work with Coca-Cola and have won awards on our brands recently, I owe you a beer and I will buy it if I see you in the Gutter Bar. If you haven’t yet won an award and you have a kick-ass idea, you can reach me on Twitter, @mildenhall.