Neil Young doesn't do compromise. When an audience turned up expecting to hear Heart Of Gold, he played Tonight's The Night. When they booed, he played it again, twice. He has walked out on tours, fired his friends and buried his own recordings in a field so that no-one can hear them.
We know that we have to compromise - our work is a balancing act. The Weetabix (1) ad seems to fall down, though, because of a compromise on what they actually wanted to say.
The spot is for the new chocolate variety. It features pets talking to each other at breakfast time, discussing the taste and sugar content of the product. If animals could talk, and this is what they wanted to talk about, you'd be gutted, wouldn't you?
The ad is missing the humour that made "steeplechase" so compelling, and the double message of "chocolatey" and "healthy" feels complicated. We would have liked to see something simpler and more fun.
The animal theme continues with Ikea (5) letting a hundred kitties loose in their Wembley branch. It's a simple idea: cats love climbing on furniture and Ikea has lots of it. The products feature in every shot without it feeling like they are being stabbed into your eyes. As the cats snuggle down, you start to get a nice homely feeling.
The tone of voice is a complete departure, however, from previous Ikea work and we were left wondering if they could have treated the piece in a more light-hearted way, particularly as the idea is so quirky. The competition (guess which furniture the cats liked best) ties in nicely and doesn't feel like it's stuck on the end of the campaign, so no compromise there. Did they use the cats in the catalogue itself? We hope so.
Uh-oh, autumn is here and it might be time to invest in a SAD lamp because John Lewis (4) isn't doing much to lift our spirits. Its new campaign features the strapline "autumn, now in" and is essentially the same poster three times. The models and locations look beautiful, but there is nothing to engage you emotionally. Fallen autumn leaves tie all the posters together but are too literal - there's no idea behind it.
Jack Black plays Gulliver in the new Orange (6) cinema ad, the latest in the long-running "don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie" campaign. Savaging corporate sponsorship and sending up mobile phones as "glorified walkie talkies" shows Orange is a confident brand which doesn't take itself too seriously. By the end, Jack is hoisted like a marionette and made to perform a dance by the Lilliputians. They could have made more of a struggle with his body size here to add to the humour, but we enjoyed it anyway. The Lilliputian sign spinner was also a nice touch.
Sticking with the film theme, the new Mini Countryman (3) spot bears more than a passing resemblance to The Italian Job. In this version every turn that the car makes splits it in two. This is repeated over and over until the city is filled with Minis, hurtling around narrow streets. Multiplied "somethings" in TV ads always look nice but in this case there doesn't seem to be a reason behind it. This one is going to look better on a director's reel than a creative's.
Our final review is for "Youtique" - an online interactive shop from French Connection (2). Louise Rose presents videos in which the clothes are sorted by activities. So if you need a wedding outfit or something to wear to a gig, the choices she offers will be tailored accordingly. This makes a nice change from choosing clothes by colour or garment, and makes us wonder if they factored in how hot or cold you will get at the event. At the time of writing the "Youtique" has yet to launch, so it's difficult to assess but the idea seems interesting and, if it is executed as well as "This is the man/woman", it won't be left in a compromised position.
That's it for us. The rest of this article is buried in a field near Watford.
PLANNER - Rachel Hamburger, graduate trainee 2010, DDB
Only three weeks into the job, and it's hard not to feel like a bit of an obnoxious little upstart when I'm feigning authority and critiquing the meticulously thought-through work of experienced admen, but here goes my attempt.
The latest Orange (6) ad with Jack Black follows the well-established formula of its "don't let a mobile ruin your movie" campaign and, true to form, it's an entertaining take on the theme. My only problem with it is that I remember the thrill of seeing Orange's early ads in this category and appreciating the clever execution of the message. A few years on, though, they might be in danger of feeling a little too predictable.
Anecdotally, John Lewis (4) is a store that I tend to associate more with a slightly older generation but, in this press campaign, I get the sense that it is pushing away from "outdated" and reinforcing itself as a "classic" brand. This is neatly executed in this campaign and the retro feel with a contemporary finish makes for a crisp aesthetic that conjures up comparisons with Edward Hopper's paintings. There are few things that could take the edge off waving goodbye to the summer and ushering in the autumn months, but this ad goes some way towards it.
Another one that fills me with autumnal warmth is Mother London's first effort for Ikea (5). I'm not a cat-lover, but it's impossible to ignore the charm of this ad and its sweet soundtrack. One hundred cats running round an Ikea store, just like a moggy might run round my own house but on a much grander scale. I can't help but feel the real genius lies in the fact that it raises so many questions...
Did that little ginger cat knock any of the brightly coloured lamps off the shelves? How did they herd all the cats together at the end of the shoot? It's perhaps for this reason that the online documentary "herding cats" has already received more than two million YouTube hits (more than the ad itself). Clawing its way into viral video charts, the ad has successfully capitalised on the online community's penchant for all things feline, though curiously the tagline "happy inside" is something that might just as well be used to sell natural bio yoghurt. All things taken into account, though, I would judge this ad to be a resounding success.
Continuing on the animal theme, the talking animals of "happy breakfast" from Weetabix (1) have an undeniable appeal, and the strategy behind it appears to be clear, targeting those who want to maintain the health benefits of Weetabix but are looking for something a bit more to stimulate the breakfast palate.
This ad wouldn't necessarily jump out at me but I couldn't help raising a smile after watching it.
Next, the ad for the Mini Countryman (3) is fast-paced, energetic and youthful and, as an eye-catching spot with exciting visuals, it's a success although it might suffer from comparisons with Vauxhall Corsa's "hide and seek" ad of a couple of years back. The message of Mini's versatility is expressed as the car passes through varying landscapes as part of a "getaway" but, in my view, the single-minded message is at risk of being obscured by the multitude of other things going on in the spot.
Ending on digital, the distinct advantage of French Connection (2)'s aptly named "Youtique" is that customers can receive personalised recommendations and are given opportunities to buy just as they would in store, but importantly in this private online experience, they are spared the presence of an overbearing sales person. French Connection isn't the first campaign to combine video with opportunities to click and buy; both Thomas Pink and Marks & Spencer's websites host videos that employ similar technology. However, the use of YouTube and its annotations feature is innovative and has the potential to provide French Connection with ongoing opportunities for PR.
Project: Happy breakfast
Client: Sally Abbott, marketing director, Weetabix
Brief: Announce new Chocolate Weetabix, with the tastiness of chocolate
and the wholegrain goodness of Weetabix
Writer: Bertie Scrase
Art director: Christen Brestrup
Director: Ben Dawkins
Production company: Stink
2. French Connection
Client: Jennifer Roebuck, director of e-commerce and digital marketing,
Art director: n/s
3. Mini Countryman
Client: Robert Gocke, head of global advertising and social media, Mini
Brief: Show the versatility and flexibility of the Mini Countryman
Agency: BSUR Amsterdam
Writers/art directors: Rolando Cordova, Gian Carlo Lanfranco, Rob
Phillips, Ben Tucker
Director: Brian Beletic
Production company: Smuggler
4. John Lewis
Project: John Lewis Fashion Autumn/Winter 2010
Client: Craig Inglis, marketing director, John Lewis
Brief: Get customers to reappraise the fashion offer at John Lewis
Writer: Ben Tollett
Art directors: Nici Hofer, Emer Stamp
Photographer: Rene & Radka
Retouching: La souris sur le gateau
Exposure: Outdoor (London), national press, monthly magazines, digital
Project: Happy inside
Client: Anna Crona, director of marketing, Ikea
Brief: Create a positioning for Ikea in the UK that encapsulates the
true essence of its brand
Agency: Mother London
Writer: Mother London
Art director: Mother London
Director: Adam Berg
Production company: Stink
Project: Gold Spot Gulliver's Travels
Writers/art directors: Sam Hibbard, Graham Storey, Phil Cockrel
Director: Jeremy Konner
Production company: Partizan