Dave Trott and Sir John Hegarty. Admen. Legends. An inspiration.
And, uncoincidentally, both of them speakers at our place recently.
As you'd expect, the room was packed on both nights; the audience moist with anticipation. And the great men did not disappoint; they were evenings never to be forgotten.
But with apologies, I'm going to boil what Sir John and Mr Dave said down to one word each.
Mr Dave: impact. If you haven't got impact, if no-one is listening, it doesn't matter what you say.
Sir John: style. Your brand needs a style. If you haven't got one, invent one.
Of course, impact and style work towards the same end, they're both about cut-through. And in this age of conversation, cut-through is a first principle that often gets overlooked.
So I'm going to put the work this week through three filters. Does it have impact? Does it have a distinctive style? And what do I think of the idea?
French Connection (2). Impact? Yes. Different to anything else on telly at the moment. Proof that it is possible to be considered and have impact at the same time. Style? Very much so. The look. The voiceover. The man and the woman. And it's stylish. Idea? I really like it. Think these two are a nice move on from last year's work.
Personally, I like the way that the voiceover on the woman film is more tied in to the product. I found the man a little too oblique. But, all in all, very, very nice.
Drench (6). Impact? Yes. Just by dint of what it is. Cuts through like a grandmother. Style? Yes, this film has a style. And a distinctive one. But it's not a style that, I think, bears any resemblance to the past ads in the campaign. So the ad has a style but the brand perhaps doesn't. Idea? The brand idea is well-worn, Heineken, Weetabix territory. This ad is well filmed and totally mental. Bags of stand-out. Personally, I found it gross but the kids may well love it. I was disappointed in the music - lyrically trenchant but didn't seem to fit the film.
BBC (4). Impact? Not really. It wouldn't stand up to a normal ad break. Might stand out a bit on the BBC, though, which is where it presumably runs. Style? Yup. Again, being on the Beeb helps. If it was next to a Lloyds ad in a break, then it might be a little less distinctive. Idea? It's OK. For me, the animation gets in the way. If the BBC can accurately predict the weather by postcode, then that's something to shout about, not whisper. I don't really believe it can, though, which is maybe why it's animated.
Polo (3). Impact? Not really. Too many elements. Two endlines. Two logos. Style? The art direction is unloved. Product as "O" is all right. Idea? As one commentator on Brand Republic put it: "How do you eat yours?"
Virgin Trains (5). Impact? No. I didn't understand the instructions. It crashed my computer the first time I loaded it. And the game seemed nothing special. Style? Sort of. The zombie campaign as a whole has a style. Whether it's a good one is debatable. Idea? I'm not a fan of zombies in advertising. I didn't really understand the idea behind the game. I still don't know why it was made or what the point of it was. Be interesting to know what the client got out of it.
Puma (1). I don't need to stick to structure on this one. It's a beautiful idea with huge amounts of impact and a lovely, distinctive style. Well written, wonderfully shot. Ad of the year so far by a mile.
EDITOR - Rachel Johnson, editor, The Lady
Has anyone else noticed that ads are now often miles better than the movie or the telly programme itself? It could be the viral spread of low production values showcased by reality TV, but it's thrown into high-def how ads are, in contrast, scripted, well shot, beautifully lit and often funny. They linger in the noggin long after the final dismal hours of Big Brother 11 are wiped from the collective consciousness. So, without further ado, let's look at what's out there.
French Connection (2). I was a little confused by this breeding pair of his and hers ads. Thought the male of the species worked well - mainly because I assumed it was a spoof on the Cantona biopic and the cod philosophising of the beardie Frog male (and I speak as a huge fan of the Sebastien Chabal "caveman" look). I thought the overt stereotyping of the man as a wolf was funny and liked the play on wolf, pig, beast. It was witty, animal and sophisticated, and had me in the first frame. However, the whole conceit was undermined by the Woman one, which lapsed into whimsy at the off, and became just another annoying ad showing a winsome girl with brown hair gazing moodily into the middle distance and kicking autumn leaves in a belted trench while expecting all men to drool at her and all women to rush out to snap up the poetic Gallic look. A total waste of time, but pretty enough to look at. 8/10 for Man, 3/10 for Woman.
Drench (6). This was cool and clever. Rubik Cubes are cult toys again, and so are 70s disco hits. However. I thought it was a little gloomy. The underground setting and man with the cubic head were all a bit drab. I felt it was going for the same territory as the Cadbury's "eyebrows" ad but wasn't as watchable and didn't have a killer hook. That said, I loved the audio plays and the way the sound dipped when he took out his earphones and came back when he replaced them. And the end - when he starts to nod his head to the beat - was genius. 7.5/10.
BBC (4). Well. I am a weather nut. I sit through the news for the weather. The weather is the one thing that unites the nation, we all talk about it all the time and watch the BBC, our state-funded broadcaster - so, in theory, this was a slam dunk. Only it wasn't. It was grimy and grungy. I know it was about publicising an improved service on the BBC website where you put in your postcode and it gives you a forecast, but I thought it was uninspiring. We have fabulous weather and countryside and scenery in the UK, and bags of it. But this was a sub-Gorillaz animation depicting a youth heading out of his flat into a depressing town. I'm giving it 5/10 as it was informercially effective.
Polo (3). This is a bit odd but quite cute. The Polo ad is a billboard asking "Are you a sucker or a cruncher?" as if the world divides into those two categories. It's catchy, in an "are you a shower or a grower?" kind of way - but not that clever. If you think about it, most sweets are like toffees. You put them in your mouth for a while, then you crush them and chomp them down. So most people are both crunchers and suckers. Dur! So 5/10.
Virgin Trains (5). This was so not up my Strasse. I had no idea what it was - A game? An ad campaign? - and why it existed. It's stressful enough getting from A to B without playing computer games that replicate journey hell. Sorry. This went over my head. 2/10.
Puma (1). This was great. Even though I hate the fact that sportswear has morphed into leisurewear, I loved the Gil Scott-Heron-style voiceover. And it was nicely written with some good lines.
But the message was very off-message for me, personally. It was celebrating the acquisition of threads to wear during leisure time, slobbing about, staying out late and drinking, rather than doing anything creative or sporty. So, in its way, it was rather unusual and inventive. 8/10.
Project: After-hours athlete
Writers: Tim Gordon, Kevin Brady
Art directors: Amanda Clelland, Jesse Juriga
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production company: Smuggler
Exposure: Global TV, cinema, online, in-store, out-of-home
2. FRENCH CONNECTION
Project: Autumn/winter 2010
Client: Stephen Marks, chairman and chief executive, French Connection
Brief: Launch the new autumn/winter 2010 collection, highlighting French
Connection's design credentials and the quality of clothes
Writer: Toby Moore
Art director: Selena MacKenzie
Production company: One Six 7
Project: Sucker or cruncher?
Clients: Louise Barrett, brand manager; Alexandra Schneider, assistant
brand manager, Nestle
Brief: Help put Polo back where it should be, in British hearts and
minds, using its emotional role to improve ROS, penetration and
ultimately shore up share
Agency: CHI & Partners
Creative team: Matt Collier, Wayne Robinson
Exposure: National outdoor
Clients: Emma Bradley, Simon Gray, Jemma McCann, BBC
Brief: Engage younger audiences with the BBC's weather services, making
it the place they automatically go to online
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Mike Boles
Art director: Jerry Hollens
Director: Marc Craste
Production company: Studio AKA
Exposure: TV, radio
5. VIRGIN TRAINS
Project: Don't Go Zombie Google Street View game
Client: Danny Gonzalez, marketing manager, Virgin Trains
Brief: Create an immersive brand experience that vilifies car travel
Agency: Elvis Communications
Writer: Daniel Headey
Art director: Clare D'Andrea
Designer: Stuart O'Neill
Client: Laura Molloy, senior brand manager, Drench, Britvic
Brief: Remind consumers of the Drench brand and bring to life its
proposition to stay smart, stay Drenched
Agency: CHI & Partners
Creative team: Ed Edwards, Dave Masterman
Director: Ulf Johansson
Production company: Smith and Jones