Hello ... is anybody there?
It's mid-August and the Burleys, Moiras, Savages and Savilles are sunning themselves in exotic far-flung corners of the world. So chances are, very few people will read this - and the repercussions will be minimal. I hope.
Brothers and Sisters has made a spot for Sky Sports HD (5) with Eric Cantona. It is so nearly really good. Cantona wanders through great sporting event after great sporting event. Script is good, source footage is good - and it may just be me but the two things don't seem to gel. It feels like an offline edit, with the polish, finesse and magic dust still to be added. Or maybe I'm just grumpy because I still have a week to wait before I can go on holiday.
Anomaly has made a pop promo for the very shoes I'm wearing, Converse (1). People wearing brilliant paper heads are frolicking in a trendy urban apartment. I really wanted to love it. But halfway through, people start taking their paper heads off - which kind of blows it a bit for me. Don't get me wrong, it is charming and cool, but if you're going to play outside the rules of Clearcast, then go balls out. Thankfully, Carl Johnson is in Miami right now.
Eurostar (6) now, written and directed by Juan Cabral. You're making all us look bad, Juan - just go easy with this written-and- directed-by nonsense. But the ad is gorgeous. A simple thought - exploring is beautiful. No trains, no stations, just a simple film that distils the business problem into something unique and interesting - a little girl saying hello to a parrot. The parrot says hello back. Cute.
I hope it works for them. And I hope Juan is having a lovely time in Mexico - a place he frequents often at this time of year.
Next up is a water fight in the village of Soggy Bottom. No, really. It's The Great British Water Fight as brought to you by the Energy Saving Trust (3). The user visits the Soggy Bottom and throws a water bomb - virtually. I threw one at my partner Steve, who threw me a withering look. Hilarity did not ensue. Digital water bombs aren't as fun as the real thing. Then I was asked to make a pledge to save water - like using a shower, and not leaving taps running. Creative work aside, I think we all know this stuff, don't we? I love water - always have. I have it on tap in my house, but surely there is more I can do to save the stuff than having a shower, not a bath. Help me out - I'm willing to help here (apart from the last two weeks in August. I'm in France at that point).
Now a TV spot for the NSPCC (4) by Rapp. It's a good radio idea looking for pictures. We hear the conversation between a child and a counsellor. Moving and powerful - but only on an audio level. There are directors and producers out there with good hearts who would have donated time and talent to make something worthwhile for little or no money. Aim higher.
Last up is Transport for London (2). Interesting facts about London have been woven cleverly into the seat fabrics of Tube trains. I'm then posed the question: "Tube or false?" They mean "true". These posters are supposed to keep people entertained during a period of station closures. I've seen them - they won't. But they did remind me just how dull and dreary the interiors of Tube trains often are. Sending people online to find the answers isn't going to work. Am I really going to remember to do so after I've fought my way through a crowd, negotiated an escalator or two and eventually got a signal on my phone? Just not sure.
DJ - Mark Goodier, DJ and managing director of the content business Wise Buddah
As a debutant to this column, and considering my background, I clicked through the ad links wondering if Campaign would give me any radio ads? Surprise, surprise, there were none ...
The big problem commercial music radio faces is that ads tend to be the weakest links in the output. Listeners hit the channel button to avoid them and, in this respect, the BBC has a huge advantage. A colleague of mine often reminds me that Radio 1 or Radio 2 playing a rubbish record can be more acceptable to the listener than a three-minute ad break. Radio commercials with as much creative investment as those for other platforms would go a long way to changing that perception and would, in turn, create better returns for both advertiser and media owner, and a better listener experience.
Not everybody who loves sport loved Eric Cantona, but his considerable Gallic charm makes him a bang-on talent booking for this Sky Sports HD (5) TV spot. Brothers and Sisters' idea and technical execution are both exceptional, every second of the ad a reminder of Sky's dominance of the segment.
I wanted to like Anomaly's Converse (1) All Summer. The problem is that the song gets better with repeated hearings. It's a grower, as we say in radio. Sadly, the same can't be said for the film, which tires very quickly. The brand fit between Converse, which all the kids are well connected to, and the cool indie talent in the form of Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam from the New York band Vampire Weekend, begged for a more interesting narrative than this film offered, but if the kids love the song and they do remember the brand connection, then it will be job done.
We are so often confronted with distressing images in charity advertising, but Rapp's NSPCC (4) TV spot is refreshing and considerably more striking than most, without the need for this. The image of the sound wave of the conversation between a distressed child and the ChildLine operator engages far more effectively than had the dialogue been visually dramatised. This narrative would work well as a radio commercial. I wonder if they considered that option.
Next up is not a charity campaign but one for a quango, the Energy Saving Trust (3). SapientNitro's work is a simple online execution. The Great British Water Fight game will, they hope, lure you into their water and energy saving world. While the game itself and the site are both cleanly designed and work well, there's not enough in it to retain your interest. So while not many of us would argue for the need to become a little greener, it will take more than this to do so.
Next time you're stuck underground on the Tube this summer, suffering next to someone who thinks a once-a-week shower is sufficient, you might be glad of M&C Saatchi's "Tube or false", which Transport for London (2) has commissioned to take our minds off the not inconsiderable station closures and delays. These designs are as eye-catching and as classy as the Tube itself could be if we had a few billion to spend on it. Upon investigation, it seems there are only seven "Tube or false" questions ... so it won't keep you distracted for long. Odder still is that all the answers seem to be true ... which rather makes the campaign title redundant.
There must have been times when it would have been quicker to go to Paris on Eurostar (6) than the full length of the Piccadilly line. And Eurostar has probably been too busy making sure its trains can still run when it's a bit nippy to think about making a new ad. But this goes a long way to restoring one's sense of Eurostar being a quality brand. A gentle journey to a gentle pay-off, although, personally, I'd have preferred a talking lion.
Project: Three artists. One song
Client: Geoff Cottrill, chief marketing officer, Converse
Brief: Bring three unique artists together to write and produce a new
music track. Create and distribute a music video to support the track
and drive people to the free download
Art director: Ian Toombs
2. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Client: Nigel Hanlon, group marcoms manager, TfL
Brief: Make Londoners love/respect the Tube during a time of intense
improvement works and, by alluding to how old the Tube is, suggest need
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Martin Latham
Art director: Ned Corbett Winder
Exposure: Tube car panels
3. ENERGY SAVING TRUST
Project: The Great British Water Fight
Client: Jon McGowan, Energy Saving Trust
Brief: Raise consumer awareness of minimising water and energy
Writers: Daniel Holder, Cathy Hutton, Clare Giltrow
Art director: Daniel Holder
Directors: Armand Weerersinghe, Russell Warren
Production company: Therapy Films
Project: Real call
Client: Mike Flynn, head of direct donor marketing, NSPCC
Brief: Increase the number of regular donors to the NSPCC's ChildLine
Writer: Barney Cockerell
Art director: Michael Jones
Director: Jake Mengers
Production company: Light Parade
5. SKY SPORTS HD
Client: David Murdin, director of sports and news marketing, Sky
Brief: Position Sky as the only place that you can get all of Sky Sports
Agency: Brothers and Sisters
Writer: Sam Washington
Art directors: Andy Fowler, Mark Harris
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous
Project: Exploring is beautiful
Clients: Emma Harris, director of sales and marketing; Claire
Hutchinson, head of marketing, Carine Remy-Greenwich; senior comms
Writer/art director: Juan Cabral
Director: Juan Cabral
Production company: MJZ