I've been writing Private View for more than 20 years now.
It's like walking a tightrope. Play nice. Don't slag the work off. Don't slag the people off. Be positive. I tell you. I've got so good at walking the tightrope that I could be working in a circus by now. Some might say I am.
There's three "media" ads this week. One for the BBC. One for The Times. One for The Sun.
The BBC iPlayer (3) ad is OK. It makes no mistakes. Very BBC. It promises me that the iPlayer is "the next level". Good. Because every time I go to use the iPlayer currently, I find the programme I want to watch is "not available". So this "next level", which hopefully will include more "available" programmes, is a welcome advance. I'm excited.
The Times (4). I also got excited when I saw that Rupert Everett was in the new Times ads. He's edgy. But, alas, the agency hasn't given Rupert a script. It's just asked him to read the brief. Poor fellow waffles on about the generic benefits of newspapers and the internet. Not even an actor of Rupert's calibre can make material like this good. Wasted opportunity.
The Sun (5). It's launching a mag called Buzz. This is a bit more like it. Definitely a proper ad with a script - rather than just a brief. The Red Top team have definitely spanked The Quality team down at the NI marketing department this week.
If I were Rupert Everett, I'd defect to The Sun. Much camper. Much more fun.
McCain (2). This reminds me of the John Lewis ad that ran earlier this year. I guess the client must have said: "I like that John Lewis ad. Give me one like that." And so the agency did. Except it's for chips.
This ad just doesn't resonate for me. It attempts to claim that McCain products are a central part of family life in the UK. Nah.
The best ad I ever saw for chips was that one with the blokes in the back of the transit singing "hope it's chips, it's chips". Ironically, I think Sir Trev had a hand in that one too.
Kids Company (1). I get brain ache as I wade my way through this website. I'm trying to figure out what on earth it's about. Ah ha. On very close inspection, it looks like it's about the effect that abuse can have on a child's brain development. But the creative idea of donating money for neurons is so complicated and contrived that this simple and very important message is lost.
What a shame. Kids Company does great work. This website hides its light under a bushel.
Last but not least, an excellent ad for John Smith's (6).
Frankly, it's the only one this week that I'd want on my reel.
The brand positioning is "no nonsense" and has been for years. The script is "no nonsense". Peter Kay is "no nonsense". The direction by the genius Danny Kleinman is "no nonsense" too.
"No nonsense". One of the best and most time-enduring ideas I've seen during 20 years of writing Private View. From the bottom of my heart, and with no tightrope walking, I love it.
DIRECTOR - Baillie Walsh, director, Home Corp (recent work includes Cadbury's Flake for Fallon and a 3D installation staring Kate Moss)
Someone asked me yesterday what I was doing for Christmas. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow, never mind Christmas, but it got me thinking how lucky that I wasn't asked to review a whole bunch of Christmas ads that are going to appear on our screens any minute now. I am a total "bah humbug" man myself, all those smiling faces really depress me. I probably would have taken to medication just to get through it as I do most Christmases.
Here's my take on this week's work:
The Sun (5) Buzz is pitch perfect. It knows its audience and plays to it beautifully - a camp showbiz panto that's amusingly silly and enjoyable. Everything a Sun TV magazine ad should be and a little bit more: clear, precise, throwaway and great fun.
McCain (2), however, has totally confused me. A series of nicely shot vignettes showing family pride and achievement leaves me asking questions, namely: McCain? Surely serving oven chips doesn't swell anyone's chest with pride? Seems a bit of a stretch to me and I found the idea as hard to swallow as its products. Are people really that gullible?
The Times (4). It's a sharp, slick and intelligent film with good cinematography, a good soundtrack and the surprising casting of Rupert Everett. Visually, it feels very London-centric, but I assume this is playing to the Fleet Street heritage. The ad is smart, concise and good to look at, which these days is the least the Times Online reader - sorry, member - will expect.
BBC iPlayer (3) has a nice idea that could have been pushed a bit further. Various characters in various locations all stare in wonder at a Stargate light. I understand this product is for everyman but I would have liked a variety of responses from the characters rather than just the same inane grin. If they'd had more fun with the idea, the result might have been outstanding; instead of which, it's bland.
Charity ads are a hard nut to crack. There's invariably no budget, no time and a message that most people are tired of hearing. Despite this, the Kids Company (1) spot works very well - personal stories are always interesting and that's the route this campaign has taken. The tone is clear, to the point and doesn't patronise. The direction has great energy and charm, with some really interesting visual ideas. It feels like a lot of hard work and love went into this campaign, and it succeeds as a result.
Finally, the last ad I originally reviewed was substituted for John Smith's at the last minute. As the spot I first reviewed was appalling and drew a strong and vociferously angry response from me, it was great fun to write. I was hoping it's replacement spot would be in a similar vein. No such luck.
John Smith's (6) "no nonsense" is a true class act. This is premier league advertising. There is always room to draw comedy from a dog show but it could so easily be overplayed in the wrong hands. However, everything about this spot is handled with impressive skill and finesse - the ubiquitous Peter Kay is truly brilliant, finding comedy in every small gesture, backed up by a really amusing voice-off from Peter Purves that tickles throughout. The whole spot is perfectly paced and crafted with a beautiful gentle humour. This ad gets "best in show" - wish I had made it.
Abi Titmuss and a Julie Goodyear to you all.
1. KIDS COMPANY
Project: Peace of Mind campaign
Client: Laurence Guinness, head of campaigns, Kids Company
Brief: Help Kids Company raise £5 million by encouraging people to
go online and buy a neuron from the Peace of Mind site
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Paul Cohen
Art director: Mark Fairbanks
Production company: In-house
Exposure: Online, print, poster
Clients: Helen Priestley, marketing director; Mark Hodge, head of
product management, McCain
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writer/art director: Julia Martens
Director: Peter Riski
Production company: Rattling Stick
Exposure: National TV, radio, point-of-sale, online
3. BBC IPLAYER
Project: The next level
Clients: Simon Lloyd, Terry McGrath, Helen Weeks, BBC Marketing
Brief: Introduce the next-generation iPlayer
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers/art directors: Dan Hubert, Amber Casey
Director: Mario Zozin
Production company: Red Bee Media
4. THE TIMES
Project: Exciting Times
Client: The Times
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writers/art directors: Warren Moore, Micky Tudor, Jake Holmes, Phil
Bucknall, Jessica Gough
Director: Siri Bunford
Production company: Knucklehead
Exposure: TV, print, online
5. THE SUN
Project: The launch of Buzz
Clients: Barnaby Dawe, marketing director, News Group Newspapers; Jenny
Williams, head of brand marketing, The Sun
Brief: Launch The Sun's new free Saturday TV magazine, Buzz
Agency: WCRS London
Writers/art directors: Richard Hart, Keith Gray
Director: Bryan Buckley
Production company: Hungry Man
6. JOHN SMITH'S
Project: Dog show
Client: Gareth Turner, senior brand manager, John Smith's
Brief: The return of no nonsense
Writer: Martin McAllister
Art director: Theo Bayani
Director: Danny Kleinman
Production company: Rattling Stick