The Thinkboxes Shortlist for September/October 2010: A view from Nick Darken

Swagger. It's in short supply at the moment. But here are five spots that exude the confidence of brands who've got some.

Most of the executions are divisive, which is precisely the point: strong brands have strong personalities. They know who they are and they know who they are for. They are not for everyone.

Having said that, while everyone may not like Ikea, everyone loves cats. It's a lovely gentle spot with a simple premise. And because the premise is a kind of cat experiment, there's as much interest in how it was done, as the spot itself.

That's what brands with swagger do. They create stuff that makes people think: "You can't do that!" Which makes Ikea stand out from the pack this month. Because its swagger has the most talkability.

- Nick Darken, executive creative director, Albion.

This is one Thinkbox Academy member's view. What do you think? You can view the ads and Academy members can vote by going to www.thinkbox.tv/thethinkboxes

Creative agency: Adam & Eve
Creative team: Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp
Clients: Simon King, Steve Jones
Production company: Blinkink
Director: Simon Willows


The brief was to reinvigorate a classic heritage brand. We all grew up with Cadbury's Fingers as a staple of kids' parties - the problem is that there just aren't enough kids parties to drive sales growth. So this ad is part of a new strategy, which focuses on reminding people that Fingers are perfect for all our good times. Thus, to a rocked-up version of the "V for victory" theme from Beethoven's Fifth, we see anthropomorphised chocolate fingers as protagonists evoking familiar scenes of triumph - Hillary and Tensing's conquering of Everest, the first steps on the moon, Torvill and Dean's ice-dancing perfection, a Red Arrows flypast and the climax of a headlining act at Glastonbury. Attention to detail means that the film repays repeated viewing. The brief was to show that for all our good times together, Cadbury Fingers are here for every celebration, for every moment of shared excitement - then, now and forever.

Creative agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Creative team: Matt Welch, Simon Welch
Client: Jennie Chubb
Production company: Rattling Stick
Director: Andy McLeod


This slice-of-life montage, scheduled to coincide with the run-up to the start of the "winter soup season", features people of all ages in a range of settings, about to take their first spoonful of Heinz soup. But each one instinctively pauses, before the spoon reaches their lips, and blows on their hot soup - producing, as they do so, a whistled note. As the montage unfurls, the notes build into a tune - emphasising community and bringing to life the feelings of comfort that people derive from a bowl of Heinz soup. The ad also aims to demonstrate Heinz soups are a "quick, tasty and nutritious meal". This year is Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup's 100th birthday - and in marking the occasion, this spot not only aims to celebrate those moments when "it just has to be Heinz" but also seeks to capture the enduring love story of a nation and its soup, reaffirming the product's status as a staple of British life.

Creative agency: Mother
Creative team: Mother
Client: Anna Crona
Production company: Stink
Director: Adam Berg


This film, promoting the launch of Ikea's 2011 catalogue, features 100 cats released into Ikea's Wembley store and allowed to roam free. It carries the company's new "happy inside" strapline and forms part of an integrated campaign also featuring a competition that invites entrants to guess which pieces of furniture the cats settled on in order to win that piece of furniture. The competition is linked to Facebook, allowing people to tell their friends about it - and it's also being promoted in online ads. Additionally, the competition site hosts a short documentary about the owners of the cats and a "making of" film. The insight behind the work was the notion that, in living their lives in pursuit of their own comfort, cats instinctively know what makes them feel happy inside. The brief was to take Ikea back to its roots and its real company values while interpreting them in a modern way.

Creative agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Creative team: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Client: Breda Bubear
Production company: Traktor
Directors: Ole & Pontis


Another outing here for the airline's "red hot" cabin crew, majoring on its stunningly idealised flight attendants with their by-now-familiar flawlessly gleaming red high heels. This ad, which has been running across the US as well as in the UK, seeks to reinforce the airline's "it" factor as it looks to strengthen its recovery from recession. To a backing of Feeling Good by Muse (this is the first time the band has sanctioned the use of a track for an ad campaign) and featuring a "your airline's either got it or it hasn't" strapline, the film takes us on a metaphorical flight with Virgin Atlantic, guiding us through a surreal and glamorous world of airline iconography and dramatising how it feels to fly with the airline. As in previous campaigns, the cabin crew is able to showcase a uniquely engaging service style, while also underlining their sense of humour - qualities inherent to the airline's brand.

Creative agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creative team: Simon Pearse, Emmanuel Saint M'Leux, Rosie Arnold
Clients: Adrian Carne, Ben Cull, Alison Sudbury
Production company: Flynn
Director: Julien Lutz


In this witty spot, made primarily to run in The X Factor, a bunch of urban rappers - the Yeo Boyz featuring a tractor billed as Lil' Massey - become dairy farmers. "The sun is up, the milk's chilled. It's going to be a good one. Yeo! Yeo!" And: "Rolling my Massey on a summer's day. Chugging cold milk while I'm baling hay ...

Yeo Valley's approach is common sense. Harmony and nature take precedence." And obviously, the Massey in question has to have a silver cow bonnet mascot: "We're proper modern with this farming, believe me." The brief was to demonstrate that Yeo Valley is changing the face of the organic food category, reversing the typical expectations of an organic brand while using music to get the campaign message across in a fun way. The company's long-term strategy is to make organic food affordable for everyone as well as building brand equity.