The Work: Private View

CREATIVE - Jim Thornton, executive creative director, Leo Burnett London

No jokes this week. Not here, nor in the work. What we have instead are serious issues and business problems. You know, like war, rape, child abuse and Marks & Spencer. So I don't think "best gag wins" is quite going to be the appropriate judgment criterion with this little lot.

War is a serious business that throws up a serious problem for those involved at the sharp end, namely recruitment. The Royal Navy (3) has taken its search online. These banners are beautifully produced, truly interactive and easy to play, even for a non-gaming old fart like myself. But is that enough? Shouldn't I be taking evasive action at low level as an RPG comes at me out of the ruins of some Baghdad house? And doesn't armed-forces recruitment require a different strategy in wartime than in peacetime?

And so, like an episode of World's Worst Dinner Parties, the discussion moves to child sex abuse. Here we have a charming little mailshot from the NSPCC (5) dressed up as an invitation to Scott's eighth birthday.

An accompanying letter goes on to explain how just £10 a month can help abused children like Scott recover. It's a positive counterpoint to the above-the-line work, but it doesn't move me. I feel as if I've just read a nice story about a child recovering from a nasty dose of flu, not how he was rescued from a living hell.

From child sexual abuse to rape: a familiar pattern in certain social circles, maybe, but not Private View, I'll wager. This ad for Transport for London (6) warns of the dangers of unlicensed minicabs and grabs you by the throat immediately with its headline. You can't argue with it, but I will argue with the client's four-ads-for-the-price-of-one mentality, which has crammed everything into one execution. The most shocking statistic is in the copy: "Ten sexual assaults are committed in London every month by illegal minicab drivers." There's a great instant-response text facility giving you licensed cab company numbers and a map showing you the location of a new cab rank. As the father of a daughter, I want to see all these facts and facilities flyposted around every city centre; printed on the back of Tube, bus, cinema and club cloakroom tickets, anywhere and everywhere a young lady might literally fall into the arms of an unlicensed cab-driver. It would be criminal if they weren't.

For Volkswagen (2), the problem is that now pretty much everything in life is as reliable as a Volkswagen, how do you maintain your price premium in the face of fierce competition? Here, it attempts to justify it with a series of "incredible but true" facts about the cost of the VW range.

They're sweet, they're wittily illustrated and they're reassuringly VW.

But full-page print seems a waste of the medium. Surely lots of small-space ads would have built a more sustainable argument for the Schott's Miscellany trivia-loving masses out there.

Imagine how galling it must be for Sony to have invented the portable-music category with the Sony Walkman (4), then watch a young upstart like iPod annex it like the Germans and the Sudetenland. To Sony's credit, it has taken its time to ensure it comes up with a desirable alternative with the small, powerful, funky-looking Bean. The commercials also offer a viable alternative. Where iPod is all upbeat and happy-happy-jiggy-with-it exuberance, these are darker, more intriguing and not a little narcotic in their execution. They, like Bean, will inexorably grow on you.

The M&S Food campaign, with Dervla Kerwin's strumpet of a voiceover, is one of my campaigns of the year. People who never talk about ads talk about these, and you know it's working when, at a party, you overhear someone say "I found a hair in an M&S curry last week" and two people immediately respond: "This wasn't just any old hair ..." The traditional Marks & Spencer (1) Christmas extravaganza is a joyful, inoffensively upbeat romancing of the improving M&S product, and deserves to be just as successful.

See? No jokes. Bah humbug to you all.

CHAIRMAN - William Eccleshare, chairman and chief executive, BBDO Europe (effective January 2006)

I've just had my 50th birthday, been confined to my potting shed for as long as I can remember and have spent the past few weeks in Sri Lanka clearing tsunami wreckage. So, I'm old, out of touch and idealistic - perfect credentials for doing Private View.

My criteria are pretty straightforward: real ideas, beautifully executed and a conviction - if not proof - that they will deliver tangible impact.

First on the pile is the new Sony Walkman (4) TV work. Three elegantly shot films, in which an amorphous blob develops into the new, smooth, rounded Sony Walkman. Great voiceover and ineffably cool production certainly communicated that this might just be a real rival to Apple's dominance of a market Sony once owned.

I would be hard-pressed to define the idea but, in a style-dominated market, it may not matter too much.

Any agency team that survives as many client management changes as Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R has seen at Marks & Spencer (1) deserves high praise and the way in which the recent revival in M&S's performance was so directly linked by the financial press to the "your M&S" campaign is good not just for the agency but for our whole industry. The recent print work and the TV food campaign have set a very high standard and I don't think this new TV spot quite reaches it. For the past few Christmases, M&S has successfully used minor celebrities with the "Magic & Sparkle" theme. Having had the rarity of a proven Christmas retail campaign it just seems a bit odd - or maybe brave - to walk away from it. While the new format certainly allows lots of product to be shown, and the clothes look great, the execution is just a bit generic and I worry it may get lost in the Christmas clutter.

Cutting through the clutter of the thousands of brand-related messages consumers face every day is getting ever more challenging and nowhere is this more true than in direct mail. This NSPCC (5) birthday card worked for me. A simple but relevant idea, beautifully crafted - the copywriter's art is alive and well in DM, if this is anything to go by. I'm sure it will have the desired impact. It certainly deserves to.

An equally powerful message has to be conveyed in the Transport for London (6) print work. It's a strong headline and communicates clearly. Somehow, though, it doesn't feel as well crafted as it could be. The art direction just lacks a bit of finesse, which may not matter when the message is so strong, but a brief like this is a big creative opportunity and this doesn't really grasp it.

The art direction of the Volkswagen (2) print campaign is, on the other hand, quite stunning. These are beautifully made advertisements which, in their simple quality, say so much about the brand and its values. However - as with the M&S work - I don't think these show the client/agency team at its peak. I feel I have seen this idea before. Several times. Now, of course, that doesn't mean it will not work but it does take away some of the magic and, given the high bar that DDB London and VW have set themselves, I think it's fair to demand only the truly original.

Finally, the Royal Navy (3) online campaign. If there are still sceptics who don't think the internet is a "real" medium, take a look at these little gems. They demonstrate exactly why the best creative people in our industry are waking up and embracing this space rather than allowing it to be hived off by specialists. These executions have a simple idea and are executed with real wit, imagination and cunning. I loved them and, of all the work in my Private View lucky dip, these really reminded my of why I can't wait to get back to work in January. See you then!

1. MARKS & SPENCER Project: Christmas 05 Client: Steve Sharp, marketing director, Marks & Spencer Brief: Make M&S the destination store for Christmas by showcasing the excellent new product range Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R Writers: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss Art directors: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss Directors: Michael Gracey, Pete Commins Production company: Partizan Exposure: National TV 2. VOLKSWAGEN Project: Value campaign Clients: Catherine Woolfe, Moran Steel, marketing communication, small cars, VW Brief: Raise awareness of Volkswagen's surprisingly good value Agency: DDB London Writer: Matt Lee Art director: Peter Heyes Illustrators: Gary Taxali, Marc Burckhardt, Neil Murren, Matthew Green, David Foldvari Exposure: National press, car magazines 3. ROYAL NAVY Project: COI Royal Navy recruitment Clients: Jamie Galloway, director of digital media; Julian Perkins, national campaign manager, COI Brief: Highlight some of the jobs you might not expect to find in the Navy Agency: Glue London Creatives: Seb Royce, Adam King, Jaime McLennan, Christine Turner, Simon Lloyd, Sally Skinner, Dave Martin, James Leigh, Darren Giles Designers: Matt Verity, Leon Ostle Exposure: Online 4. SONY WALKMAN Project: The pill Client: David Patton, senior vice-president, marketing and communications Europe, Sony Brief: Launch the new Sony Walkman Agency: Fallon Writers: Juan Cabral, Richard Flintham Art directors: Juan Cabral, Richard Flintham Director: Brett Foraker Production company: RSA Films Exposure: TV 5. NSPCC Project: Birthday card, invite Client: Clare Blackwell, fundraising manager, NSPCC Brief: Encourage potential new donors to donate money to the NSPCC Agency: Kitcarr Nohr Alexander Shaw Writer: Ben Golik Art director: Phil Wyatt Designer: Bryan Riddle Exposure: Packs to 150,000 affluent professionals/women, 300,000 press inserts in national press and women's monthlies 6. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON Project: Safer travel at night Client: Chris Townsend, director of group marketing, TfL and GLA Brief: Reduce the number of sexual assaults carried out by illegal minicab drivers Agency: TBWA\London Writer: Michael Burke Art director: Steve Williams Photographer: Steve Teague Exposure: Print

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