Like everyone else in the W1 postcode, I went to Cannes a few weeks ago. I saw a lot of ideas I really liked, but I couldn't remember a lot brands that I really liked. I admired their cleverness, but I couldn't honestly say that I liked them.Not in the way that I love Apple, The Guardian or Volkswagen. I like those guys. I like their vibe. I like the way they roll.
My Skittles intake has increased in recent years, and the idea of buying Old Spice isn't as ridiculous as it once was. And when you see a "subservient chicken", "I've never read The Economist" or a "Yeo Valley", you want to be in their gang and hang out.
"People prefer to buy from people they like" isn't a new Malcolm Gladwell study, and obviously it's thousands of years old, but now it's moved further up the food chain. Product differences are becoming scarcer, and the people who are interested in them scarcer still.A company's personality (or, as the boffins call it, "brand") used to be the thing you'd wrap your message in, but now it's often the thing your message is attached to. So keeping it consistent is crucial; you can no longer be Lady Gaga on TV and Lady Penelope on the web. But it's easier writing about it than doing it.
In the case of Coca-Cola (6), the single-most American brand out there has sponsored the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, and it wants to find British kids with a "burning passion" to carry it.
We see a young lad grab a bit of wood from a campfire and run on a journey from night to day, from country to town. Along the way, he passes passionate people playing guitar and dancing. It has a very gritty British feel - grey skies, council estates and, I think, the kid from This Is England (if it is him, he's dropped a few pounds).
It's nice enough, but I prefer my Coke ads to feel American - all blue skies, yellow cabs and greenbacks.
An old lady comes on and thanks Age UK (4) for helping old people. The curtains behind her open to reveal 120 old people dancing, skating and "having fun". It says it's helping old people, but I'm left with the feeling that a lot of old people have been made to jump around and act "young". It's not a very scientific judgment, but it's how I feel.
The visuals in the Action Against Hunger (1) campaign perfectly sum up the concept: dinner parties to feed starving children. But it feels as if the starving child is taking leftovers from the yuppies' plates - who also look bad, salving their conscience while tucking into their lobster bisque. Sometimes it's better to say it with words.
Although the Dreams (2) ad has a very basic plot (various people in bed), it's very effective, probably because it's so dreamily shot. I like this company much more than the one fronted by that big, goofy hippo. If awards shows still had a "Best change of advertising direction" category, this would win.
Everyone has spoofed its "balls" ad, so I guess Sony (5) is entitled to do it as well in order to let people know they could watch the Wimbledon tennis fortnight in 3D. It reminds me what a good call it was for the original to do it for real. These CGI balls look like Aero bubbles, which is not great when you are selling picture quality.
Roberto Thingummybob from Luta (3) talks, while a tough-sounding East Ender translates to the tune of: "He could've been a wrong'un, but in the end he turned out all right. That's why he wears Luta clothing."
It's difficult to care about the philosophy of someone you've never heard of and a brand you've never heard of. It looks nice enough, if a little familiar - very Nike-ish.
And there are some more guys I like. Nike. I like the cut of their jib, whatever that means ...
PLANNER - LAURENCE GREEN, FOUNDING PARTNER, 101
"The idea is ... there is no idea!" an American colleague of mine once triumphantly exclaimed. Weeks later, the idea-less account - the agency's largest - was gone.
So, as a rule, I'm a fully-clothed Emperor kind of guy. If you can't define your idea, I reckon you probably haven't had one. And if you haven't had one, you're not doing your job properly. That's the lens through which I'll view this crop of work.
The rock chronicles now record that novelty Glastonbury 2011 blow-ins The Wombles elected - somewhat recklessly - to open their set with their one hit, Remember You're A Womble. Cut to three minutes of nostalgic shuffling, followed by the hurried dispersal of the instantly sated audience to another stage. Any other stage.
Ignoring this precedent, I charge headlong into the Sony (5) 3D Wimbledon tennis teaser, the latest pastiche of Fallon's "balls" commercial for Sony's Bravia from many moons ago (a creative and commercial triumph that I largely contributed to by getting out of its way).
Someone here has had an idea: let's rework "balls" with tennis balls and swap the San Francisco hills for the gentle slopes of SW19. And maybe, if it had been executed with charm or a dollop of wit, hadn't been rendered in CGI (rather than shot for real), didn't linger on a doorstep copy of "The Wimbledon Herald" (for people who aren't getting it yet), hadn't cut to a couple wearing "those glasses" and plumbed new 3D ad depths by not just having them grin inanely at the entertainment miracle (invisible to us) laid before them, but grope in the air for the said CGI balls, then maybe, just maybe, they'd have got away with it.
On to Coca-Cola (6), whose call for Olympic flame-bearers warrants no such opprobrium, so strangely unremarkable is this latest lovechild of the Clerkenwell creative massive and Atlanta's, er, more massive. OK, it's a lovely mood tape, but the Idea Inspector leaves empty-handed.
There are ideas alive in both the Action Against Hunger (1) and Luta (3) campaigns, albeit baked into their product fabric rather than their advertising clothing (literally, in the case of the latter).
"Love food, give food" is the underlying premise of Action Against Hunger's campaign, a straightforward and unopposable sentiment, and one that I wished had leapt more obviously from the advertising that launches it.
The clothing brand Luta, meanwhile, shares 50 per cent of its profits with the charity Fight For Peace, set up to steer young people towards boxing and away from a life of crime. It's beautifully done, but the film that is designed to shine a light on this unorthodox brand seems remarkably orthodox.
Now, here's a nice-looking ad for the joy of sleep (or waking, and then going back to sleep). Let's call it "mornings are glorious". It's an idea, for sure. The trouble is, it's an idea for John Lewis. And it didn't pay for it. We get 50 seconds of a John Lewis ad followed by ten seconds of voiceover trying desperately to reclaim all that carefully nurtured goodwill for Dreams (2), the bedroom superstore. The wheel, alas, is grabbed too late.
There's an idea in the Age UK (4) ad too. The only problem is that I can't work out whether it's bonkers, brilliant, both or neither. A spirited gang of the nation's oldsters sing, dance and otherwise voice their thanks to the charity for its work on their behalf (so far, so good). As someone who has just moved up a Target Group Index cohort, I'm inclined to be charitable. But as a jaded Londonista, I can't for the life of me see the dignity in its execution. Good intentions, like those of your columnist, have gone astray in execution.
1 Action Against Hunger
Project: Love food, give food
Client: Heidi Drummond, head of food-related fundraising, Action Against
Writer: Dan Gorlov
Art director: Rachel Le Feuvre
Photographer: Todd Anthony at Wyatt-Clarke & Jones
Project: Good morning
Clients: Greg Suthern, chief executive; Mike Butler, marketing director,
Brief: Demonstrate the importance and pleasure of finding the right bed
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Mark Waldron
Art director: Dave Godfree
Director: Toby MacDonald
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: TV, online
Project: Real strength
Client: Luta Clothing
Agency: Academy Films
Art director: n/s
Director: Seb Edwards
Production company: Academy Films
4. Age UK
Project: Thank you
Client: Age UK
Brief: Raise awareness of Age UK's services helping people in later life
Writers: Tom Woodington, Robin Temple
Art directors: Tom Woodington, Robin Temple
Director: Becky Martin
Production company: 2AM
Project: Sony Wimbledon Bounc3d
Client: Matt Coombe, general manager of brand marketing, Sony
Brief: Promote 3D coverage of the Wimbledon finals
Writer: Adam Lowe
Art director: Dan Needham
Director: Joe Field
Production company: Silk Films
Exposure: Social media, press, radio
Project: Future flames
Brief: Create a campaign for Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the Olympic
Torch Relay to encourage young people to run with the Olympic Torch
Art director: Mother
Director: Jaron Albertin
Production company: Smuggler