So despite all the hysteria of recent weeks, Nick Clegg isn't going to be Prime Minister, after all. The daily research into the hearts and minds of the British public had Clegg in the lead, the Lib Dems in second and the two-party system on its deathbed. The whole country was convinced of the power of television after the leaders' debates.
Seems people say one thing to researchers, then do another.
So where does that leave the marketing community? Trying to second-guess what consumers will think of their latest comms. Maybe they should stop and just be themselves.
Become a beacon brand. Say what you stand for, be confident and people will come.
One brand that's been making a pretty good job of it over the years is Volkswagen (6). It's built a relationship with the public that's warm and engaging. This time, it has updated its prices campaign. Each one has a big promise in it but done in a calm, entertaining way. Beautifully written and directed, every character actor in Britain will want to get involved in these. They also complement the outdoor perfectly. Matching idea, not matching imagery and not a car in sight.
VW has built its brand on dozens and dozens of small campaigns rather than one big idea and it's no less effective.
Less successful is the Sony (2) ad. I'm bang in the target market and it should appeal. Two old England football managers, Graham Taylor and Terry Venables (who seem to be in everything at the moment), watch the World Cup on a new TV with "Psycho" as the TV installation man. However, the performances are hammy, even by celebrity standards, and the direction is workmanlike (you know you're in trouble when you have to open on a signpost). It must have looked like a decent script but it lacks any subtlety or magic. The whole thing is trying a bit too hard and it seems to end then end again.
The Silver Spoon (1) ads feature a barber and a farmer who still think their tea is sweet enough with half-a-teaspoon of sugar in-stead of a full teaspoon. They're hard-working and communicate their message in a charming way but are, for some unknown reason, dripping with 70s cues. Why, I wonder? OK, it adds a bit of character but I'm left feeling that Silver Spoon is from a different era - even the voiceover sounds like it's from the 70s. What's going on?
Next, Asda (3). Opens on a woman who walks into a supermarket and picks up a basket, then ... there is no then, that's it. A voiceover says something about a price guarantee and then an endline. Apparently, everything Asda does is driven by you. Not sung by Brian May this time, however. Not sure these will have the cut-through of the previous campaign, which seemed to be consistently top of the recall tables. Maybe people said they saw them but then didn't go to Asda.
Another TV commercial comes next. If TV advertising is dead, nobody told this lot or their media companies.
McDonald's (4) is a straightforward, well-worn idea. But it's executed with wit and charm. I enjoyed the opening reveal of the American footballers in the middle of a soccer match. The director has done the script justice. Nicely paced and gets the offer over. I'm sure this one will have researched well but will it cut through and make a difference? Everyone involved can feel good but the jury's out.
The Born Free (5) ad is a bit too jokey and studenty for my liking. Tugging on heartstrings but not really building a personality and positioning for the charity.
Well, that's my opinion anyway, a sample of one - but only the British people can really decide.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Nigel Jones, chairman and chief executive, Publicis UK
I've never been able to look at an ad without wondering what the brief was, whether the proposition could have been tighter or whether another strategy altogether would have led to a better ad. So why start now?
Silver Spoon (1). Looks like it came from a nice single-minded, possibly one-word brief - "same" - executed with style and a little bit of wit. Misses out a little on the magic that would make me view again, though. I wonder if they realised this and hence made two apparently different (but, in reality, very similar) executions?
Sony (2). I've always found football to be a rich source of strategic insight that can be applied to advertising. One of my favourite examples is: when drawn in the World Cup "group of death", if you find your players are of a similar quality and vintage to the other teams (or even exactly the same players!), you'd better have some very clever tactics if you are to avoid failing to qualify. A lesson Sun FC and Carlsberg Utd seem to have understood, but Sony Wanderers have not.
Asda (3). Sometimes in my dreams I'm asked by young graduates new to the industry what is the one piece of advice I would pass on regarding advertising strategy. And in my dreams I always give the same advice - never review an ad produced by a sister agency for a client you share because no-one will believe you are being objective.
Volkswagen (6). No need for dreams here - I think I've actually seen the brief that led to these two VW ads. It said "single-mindedly dramatise surprise" by making the ads themselves surprising. And it was written about 20 years ago. If these were the first "unbelievable prices" VW TV ads we'd seen, maybe they'd work wonderfully. But they're not. They've done it all before - and better - in the "wrapped lamppost" campaign of the 90s. Compared with most car ads, they're a cut above, but while they say surprising, they don't feel surprising. Unlike the original campaign.
Born Free (5). I like this campaign. It consists of a whole series of print ads featuring chimps, lions, gorillas, elephants and hyenas all sleeping rough on city streets. It's the kind of lovely lateral leap that is at the heart of most great advertising: grabbing my attention and making me sit up and take note of something I probably knew but haven't thought that much about - that, every month, thousands of endangered animals are losing their habitats. I would have been very proud to have written the brief behind this campaign, especially if it homed in on the word "homeless" and not just the fact that forests around the world are being destroyed on a very regular basis.
McDonald's (4). I like this one too and it's very clever. Rather than go all-out Americana to introduce the five promotional "Great Tastes of America" burgers, it interposes slices of Americana with well-observed vignettes of what we've become used to in that great British institution that is McDonald's. Oh, hang on a minute.
Now that is a clever strategy.
1. SILVER SPOON
Project: Silver Spoon/Half Spoon
Client: Tony Lucas, marketing director, Silver Spoon
Brief: Build awareness of Half Spoon product
Agency: Adam & Eve
Writers/art directors: Sidney Rogers, Harry Bugden
Director: Mark Denton
Production company: Coy! Communications
Client: Matt Coombe, general manager, brand & consumer marketing, Sony
Brief: Celebrate Sony's partnership with the World Cup and promote the
extended trade in offer
Writer: Owen Catto
Art director: Andy Barwood
Director: Ron Scapello
Production company: Rogue Films
Exposure: National and satellite TV
Project: Good old basket, lights out
Client: Mark Sinnock, director of marketing strategy and advertising,
Brief: Communicate Asda's total commitment to its customers with its new
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Steve Howell
Art director: Rick Dodds
Director: Jamie Rafn
Production company: HLA
Exposure: National TV
Project: Great Tastes of America
Brief: Announce "Great Tastes of America" promotion - a different
American-themed burger each week for five weeks - bringing a little
taste of America to Britain
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writer: Rob Webster
Art director: Iskra Tsaneva
Director: Neil Harris
Production company: Smuggler
Exposure: National TV
5. BORN FREE
Project: Keep wildlife in the wild
Client: Anne Tudor, marketing director, Born Free
Brief: Highlight the fact that thousands of endangered animals are being
forced away from their homes by deforestation, human expansion and
Creative team: Steve Hawthorne, Katy Hopkins
Photographer: George Logan
Exposure: Print, outdoor
Project: Driving test, granny, optician
Clients: Kirsten Stagg, marketing communications manager; Daniel Hill,
communications manager, Volkswagen
Brief: Challenge the misconception that VW does not offer good value for
Agency: DDB London
Creative team: Christian Sewell, Andy McAnaney
Director: Dominic Murphy
Production company: Partizan