Have you ever tried ordering Odeon cinema tickets by phone? It's a voice command service that asks you a series of questions, including which of its cinemas you are booking for.
My extremely well-spoken and unfailingly polite wife is regularly reduced to screaming obscenities into the mouthpiece: "OK, try f***ing Sh**town, you stupid f***ing f**k. Got a cinema there, have you?" Her frustration at constantly repeating Richmond and being asked if she meant Brixham or Ripon gets the better of her every time. She was once asked if she meant Aberdeen. It's a joy to watch.
So a Sony Ericsson (4) X10 mobile with a search by voice app could provide me with hours of foul-mouthed fun. But what's this? It appears that even Maria Sharapova, who has a pronounced Russian accent, has no trouble in asking the phone questions and getting the correct search answers. (And all the while playing tennis.)
It wasn't nearly as much fun to watch as my wife. But, in fairness, it was a clear, straightforward product demo.
The new Kia (3) posters tell us that the Kia Sportage is for more adventurous types. 4x4s for adventurous people? Whatever next? To illustrate this, we see - among other things - a unicycle on the car's cycle rack, and a suburban house with a jacuzzi next to the Sportage in the front garden. Does that really amount to being adventurous or just a bit odd? Lazy executions. Tired brief. A poor reflection on what is an increasingly progressive car company.
I rarely buy a newspaper these days. The new i (2) newspaper won't reverse the trend. How news is reported has changed so much that, frankly, if it isn't being reported as it's happening, then it doesn't feel like news any more. By the time a story reaches a paper, I've already read it, followed the links and read the comments, all from the comfort of my iPhone. And this, according to the stats, is not unusual.
So it seems a curious time to be launching a newspaper. And one that, judging by the advertising, is an uninspired dish of cold cuts from The Independent arranged in a static news site format. Must be aimed at commuters who can't get a signal on the train and missed the news the day before.
For those of you who don't know (me, until I reviewed it), Brian Badonde is a spoof art critic, based on Brian Sewell, from Channel 4's cult comedy Facejacker. He has a spoof speech impediment that causes him to start random words with the letter B. Very daft and very funny. Worth checking out Brian spinning a pot and Brian freestyling on YouTube if you get a moment. He's the star of a series of online films, entitled "The Art Of Technology", for Bing (5). They aren't ads so to criticise them for not integrating the product isn't really the point. They're smart, relevant, sponsored episodes of Brian. Will they reach a wide enough audience? Bwaah, I bope so.
More inspired casting in the new Direct Line (6) TV ad. Nick Mustoe as the hilariously tricky customer that doesn't believe a straight-talking word of the earnest young Direct Line insurance salesman. It's not cool but it is simple, populist and funny. Spot-on for a people's champion brand such as Direct Line. In the real world, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a lot of people's favourite ad. It's currently my mum's and my daughter's.
Finally, Cadbury's Creme Egg (1). The "goo dares wins" site encourages you to perform dares and upload the results to win various prizes, including having your dare featured in the next TV ad. The current spot grimly features eggs exploding with excitement as a man has his chest hair waxed at a bus stop. All just seems a bit witless to me. And isn't the whole filming and uploading your product/brand-related experience fast becoming a bit of an online cliche?
Overall, nothing to trouble the juries this week.
PLANNER - Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer, Saatchi & Saatchi
Here is my action standard for work in 2011.
Do I care?
Do I find it interesting?
Do I want to join in?
So who is making a decent fist of it in this week's selection of the industry's finest work?
Well, to be honest, I'd struggle to say it's Kia (3), whose Sportage is apparently a little more adventurous. The problem is that I don't care about Kia and nothing that adland has recently mustered has convinced me otherwise. And although a few novelty posters, in which bits of the scene are animated, may have titillated the media planner, it doesn't do much to make up for my ambivalence.
Following its launch, the i (2) newspaper gets some support from its celebrity contributors in its new campaign but I'm afraid it doesn't fare much better. It attempts to get me to care by articulating the paper's philosophy and I like the strategic clarity of positioning it against Metro. But the execution is dull, dull, dull and I find myself still resisting taking part in this brand's life, which is a shame as I might enjoy it.
Now for Direct Line (6). Well, I sort of care because this sounds to me ever so slightly like new news from Direct Line. And it's sort of interesting because Alexander Armstrong is properly funny but I remain slightly confused by the product on offer so I'm minded to let this one pass me by too.
Which leads me to Bing (5). If anyone understands what on earth is going on here, please let me know. I think it's a big content idea that lives on multiple platforms and touches people in all the right touchpoints. But having looked through the work, I'm left bemused, confused and in need of a lie down. I'm not sure I care and I find the work fronted by a camp art critic with a monumental speech impediment deeply irritating, rather than involving. However, I am now aware that Bing sees itself as a decision machine, not a search engine, and I'm thinking to myself I should go and spend some time with it, so that's a success of sorts.
I'm a fan of the last work Dare created for the Sony Ericsson (4) X10 - the one with the research groups of toddlers, guidos and surfers showing how brilliantly simple it is to use the Xperia in comparison with the iPhone. This work follows the same approach of old-school product demo delivered in a way that definitely registers in the interesting department and, at a push, might get shared. I don't find it as funny as two-year-olds trying to take photos with a camera phone and I'm not ready to give up my iPhone, but this is definitely a fight-back in the making.
The Cadbury's Creme Egg (1) campaign has a hell of a job to pull off. It's got to serve up an entire year's sales in a frighteningly short period of time, deliver a big dose of gooey mayhem and get people involved in the "big game" (the platform for Cadbury's 2012 sponsorship activity). And this work shoulders the task manfully. I do care, it is interesting and this campaign has participation at its very heart, albeit that the bar for involvement is set very high - loads of uploading required. I won't be waxing the little chest hair I have, but I will be scoffing Creme Eggs.
Which leads me to my current beef with the work we are all making. Either we still ask very little of people, content just to shout propositions at them, or we demand that they line up and undertake tasks for our brands as if they were performing monkeys. No-one is going to join it you don't interest and inspire them, and few people will be interested if they don't care about the brand.
1. CADBURY'S CREME EGG
Project: Goo dares wins
Client: Joanna Grice, head of marketing (giving and seasonal), Cadbury
Brief: Unleash the Creme Egg season in a fun and mischievous way
Writer: Chris Bovill
Art director: John Allison
Director: Michael Patrick Jann
Production company: Independent
Exposure: TV, online
Project: i "popular"
Client: Andrew Mullins, managing director, i
Brief: Support the launch of the new i newspaper
Agency: McCann London
Writer: Mike Oughton
Art director: Paul Cohen
Director: Anthony Dickenson
Production company: Pulse
Project: A bit more adventurous
Client: Kia Motors
Brief: Launch the new Kia Sportage
Agency: David & Goliath London
Writer: Rob Porteous
Art director: Dave Askwith
Retouching company: The Operators
4. SONY ERICSSON
Project: Maria Sharapova demoslam
Client: James Young, global marketing communications manager, Sony
Brief: Increase Sony Ericsson's share of voice within Google
Writer: Jonny Watson
Art director: Dan Harrison
Director: Jake Wynne
Production company: Prime Focus
Project: The Art Of Technology
Brief: Establish a new creative platform that will build emotional
affinity towards Bing and drive greater breakthrough in the UK market
Agency: JWT London
Writers/art directors: Craig Hunt, James Humphreys
Directors: Kayvan Novak, Ed Tracy
Production company: Hat Trick Productions
6. DIRECT LINE
Project: Direct Line
Client: Kerry Chilvers, head of marketing, Direct Line
Brief: Demonstrate that Direct Line is an insurance company that
customers want to deal with
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writers/art directors: Ned CorbettWinder, Martin Latham
Director: Graham Linehan
Production company: Sneezing Tree Films
Exposure: National TV