George Best was better than Fernando Torres, reading an actual newspaper is still better than the online version and Jackass is simply better in 3D. It's all true. What's also true is that advertising, or communications as we now refer to it, is better when it's based on a product truth. A truth makes you connect or reconnect with a brand. It's the foundation of greatness, and why great planners are very hard to come by. Let's see if there is any truth in my babbling.
Heinz (4) has developed a film that features people of all ages in a wide range of settings about to take their first spoonful of Heinz soup. Before they swallow their mouthful, each person pauses and blows to cool the soup down and a blowy whistling tune is heard. The truth is plain to see. This is what Heinz Tomato Soup drinkers do. It's not overtly about taste. Nor does it have any deep functional benefit. But what it does have is a beautifully simple ownable truth. And a strongly implicit emotional benefit: a product that is so good, you can't wait to get at it. The film looks good enough to lick off the screen, and the director has also been true to the idea.
Next, Nokia (3) celebrates the unusual things people do with Nokia technology, such as creating a hamster-powered phone charger. You can't argue with the creativity of this work. I would have preferred the technology to be more of the hero but that's just me being picky. The truth here is simple and engaging. Show your savvy consumers who hunger for new things a new way of using your products. Make them feel part of a movement of like-minded consumers, and you have them hooked. There is no doubt that this client has had the confidence in his product to agree to this kind of work.
Next, Toyota (6) has come out with a long-length film that is designed to portray the vehicle's ability to constantly recycle the energy it uses. A 3D projection shows the car transforming. Its bodywork peels back to reveal a glowing blue light that symbolises the car's hybrid energy. I was drawn into the visual splendour surrounding the car. It tells me that the car has a load of energy bursting out. But that was it. Nothing to really make me want to believe that Toyota was different from any other hybrid-obsessed car manufacturer.
Up next, a film for Costa (1). The idea focuses on the theory that if you give a room full of monkeys typewriters, they will eventually produce the entire works of Shakespeare. So, the voiceover provokes, can a room full of monkeys produce the perfect cup of coffee? I really liked the surprising nature of this work. It engages with the viewer and it takes you a step closer to the brand. Yes, it's generic to say it takes a special kind of person to make the special kind of coffee, but its unique style compensates for this in spades.
On to Brother (5). It has developed three spots that emphasise the impact of printing A3 and brings to life the ambition of people who work in smallto medium-sized businesses. There is a functional truth in this campaign and I very much applaud this. But it's let down by the execution, which I have seen too many times before.
Next, The Carphone Warehouse (2) brings us a campaign to promote the mobile retailer as the place to go for impartial advice on a wide range of modern handsets. It features a man arriving at the store who is greeted by an array of animated characters such as Twitter birds and an Ocado shopping trolley, representing the apps available on smartphones. He makes his way past the various characters to a sales assistant who helps him choose the right phone for him. While I recognise it's not easy to do great work for high-street retailers that demand instant results, it should still be possible to find that all-important, differentiating brand truth. The campaign tries to have a truth, but I seem to be left thinking that this brand is much like its competitors. But, again, it's not an easy one to crack.
So that's that. Finding an ownable truth in a product or a brand isn't the only ingredient to producing extraordinary work. But it's the difference between people buying soup and buying Heinz soup. And maybe the difference between a pencil and a yellow Pencil.
PLANNER - Jonathan Moore, chief strategy officer, WCRS; former global brand vice-president, Unilever
Having spent my career client-side until August this year, it is a source of fascination for me to now see everything from the other side of the business. One frequent topic of discussion between client and agency that I am thinking of in this context is the one about branding versus creative expression and whether one comes at the cost of the other. Does a creative idea work best when it has the brand at its heart, so that, as the commonly used measure says, you couldn't possibly fail to know it is communication for brand X? Or is it possible to create something that intrigues the audience, creating impact and engagement and then cunningly dropping the brand into our brains just as we are nicely warmed up and receptive to it?
Toyota (6) is beautifully crafted and engaging, using a fresh, contemporary technique to capture a technical message about the car's energy usage. While I'm not clear what the exact message is, it is enough to tell me that there is something more to find out. Personally, I wish it had been filmed anywhere except Shoreditch but, for now, I am happily parking that concern. Beautifully set up and shot and 100 per cent branded Toyota from the outset, it's a great result all round.
Equally beautiful and time-indulgent is the Costa (1) monkeys ad. Bill Nighy is cast perfectly to twist the familiar Shakespeare typewriters adage and make the point that good coffee is made by skill and not chance. It's both fascinating and delightful to watch but I wonder if the branding at the very end is strong enough to prevent it driving as much business to coffee houses in general as it might to Costa's establishments specifically.
Nokia (3) also takes the full minute to deliver an engaging perspective on just how wackily you can use a phone to do really creative stuff. The phone is the centre of the action and the craziness of the ideas does make me sit up and take notice of the brand. That said, I'm not expecting to do any of this stuff myself so I'll be sticking to my iPhone, despite Nokia's genuine advantages of superior signal reception and battery life.
Staying with mobile phones and turning to The Carphone Warehouse (2), I'm intrigued to guess who this jam-packed film is aimed at. I imagine that the benefit of making complex things simple is appealing to technophobes but might they not be put off by just how ultra-chaotic it's all made to feel? The brand is in there from the start, though, so only time will tell.
I hope that the only A3 desktop printer available is the one advertised by Brother (5). Beautifully directed, this ad makes the very single-minded point that being able to print in A3 is a useful capability for small businesses, so hats off to everyone for agreeing a tight brief and producing something so watchable from it. If I wasn't writing this, though, I doubt I would remember which brand of printer it was for.
Finally, we reach the oldest brand of this week's collection. The Heinz (4) ad taps into the nation's heartstrings like all good anniversary ads and will no doubt work a treat in reminding us of our former loyalty. Branding is there (come to think of it, are there any other brands of tinned tomato soup these days?) and there's a demographically perfect vision of modern Britain and its shared love for the product to bring it all up to date. Aaahhhhhh. The feelgood factor at its best. The tune eluded me but was perhaps deliberately ambiguous so as to require multiple viewings. Anyway, I eventually bagged it so I can now go and relax and enjoy some lovely Heinz Tomato Soup. Surely we must have a can somewhere in the back of the cupboard. Hmmmmm, let me take a look ...
Project: Monkeys and typewriters
Client: Jim Slater, marketing director, Costa
Art director: n/s
Director: Sam Brown
Production company: Rogue
Exposure: TV, press, online
2. THE CARPHONE WAREHOUSE
Project: Bringing smartphones to life
Clients: Julian Diment, marketing director; Kay Parkinson, head of group
brand and advertising, The Carphone Warehouse
Brief: The Carphone Warehouse offers advice to help you find the right
smartphone for you
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writer: Charles Inge
Art director: Alexei Berwitz
Directors: Eric Lerner, Patrik Berg
Production company: Partizan
Project: Hands on
Client: Russell Anderson, senior marketing manager, Nokia
Brief: Launch and position the Nokia N8 as not only a smartphone, but
also a tool for creativity
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London
Creatives: Scott Dungate, Ida Gronblum, Fabian Bergland
Director: Martin Krejci
Production company: Stink
Exposure: Global TV
Client: Matthew Cullem, marketing controller, soup, Heinz
Brief: Remind soup lovers that there are times when only Heinz Classic
Soup will do
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Simon Welch
Art director: Matt Welch
Director: Andy McLeod
Production company: Rattling Stick
Client: Antony Peart, European marketing comms manager, Brother
Brief: Launch the A3 product range in a way that creates an emotional
connection to the Brother brand
Agency: Grey London
Writer/art director: Grey London
Director: Noah Harris
Production company: Blink Ink
Exposure: TV, digital (website and OLA), print, outdoor, radio, DM,
Project: Get your energy back
Client: Lisa Fielden, brand development manager, Toyota GB
Brief: Portray the unique technology with the Toyota Auris Hybrid and
dramatise the car's extraordinary ability to recycle energy
Agency: Glue Isobar
Writer: Lorelei Mathias
Art director: Nathalie Turton
Designers: Simon Cam, Gavin Rothery, Marcus Chaloner