Take a look at the shots of the work being reviewed next to this column. Under each one is an extract from this text.
Over the years, I have noticed Campaign pulls out a fairly good bit from a bad write-up and vice versa. Does it do it on purpose? I don't know. But, given that some of us (and all of us on some occasion) don't read the whole column but only skim the extracts for a quick opinion, I think the editing process on Campaign's part carries some responsibility.
Let's try a little experiment. I'll make it a lot easier for Campaign to spin the result of a fleeting glance at the extracts either way and it might help highlight my point. Will it pull out a good bit or a bad bit?
I'm staring at some posters for the Home Office (4) drunk and disorderly campaign. They are simple, clean and uncluttered.
Absolutely fantastic, a triumph. A triumph to begin with, that is, until I get to the message itself. Its matter-of-fact, charmless and clipped tone leaves me feeling threatened. I stood in awe of the layouts' use of space. Until I read: "Get drunk & disorderly, get arrested, get an £80 fine." Well, screw you. Like it's no fault of the Government that half the country's youth feel the need to drink themselves into oblivion and puke their way home every Friday night. These ads are just plain insensitive. So, in a sense, they do communicate something quite clearly. My main issue, though, is whether the average village pub-monkey will give a damn about the £80 fine. After 15 Galliano and Fantas, I think not.
The Argos (1) Christmas TV campaign is quite clearly the start of something big. Like, for example, a stolen juggernaut with a pissed teenager at the wheel, flying down a cul-de-sac at 120mph. This campaign has definitely got legs. They're just drunk and made of rubber.
The Kellogg (2) Nutri-Grain TV campaign is clear enough and it is nicely put together. It's just not great. Given the brief, the category and the restrictions, it may well be the industry's achievement of the year. So three cheers for all involved if that's the case. But it only hits a quality level that we are too used to seeing on the box these days. Should it go on the agency's reel? Definitely. Should it go on the creative team's reel? Definitely not.
The Vodafone (5) Christmas TV ad is one of the best Bartle Bogle Hegarty has done this year. Which is a great shame. But it has more than made up for it doing what it has clearly been a little more focused on (refer to new-business league, page 60).
Mc(excuse me, your strategy is showing)Donald's (6) persists with the "we make good stuff now, honest, honest, honest!" route, so it must be working. Well done to the clever agency responsible. There you go, you see - a nice cup of coffee, a bit of limp salad and that whole screwing the environment, underpaying ethnic minorities and filling our children with crap thing just disappears. Or does it? It has pulled off the impossible.
I think? Keep up the good work. Should they? The typography is also a triumph - relevant, modern and fantastically readable. Congratulations.
The latest Wonderbra (3) press work is simple, single-minded and well crafted enough. It's Wonderbra advertising grown up. Sadly, it has grown up dull. It is far too generic; a logo for anything from toothpaste to a hair salon would sit comfortably in the corner. C'mon guys, you could be working on deodorant or toilet bleach or, God forbid, retail. It is a product that makes breasts look bigger, for Pete's sake. That's as good as the job gets. So should the ads be.
BRAND ICON - Howard Brown, brand ambassador, the Halifax
Before I started appearing in the Halifax campaign, I had no idea how much time and effort from you guys goes into making TV ads. But the truth is, most people don't give it a second thought and take it for what it is: the stuff in between the programmes. So I'm going to take a look at these as I'm sitting at home, just like all the people they were made for.
It's Christmas time: the season of goodwill, shopping and (for some) drinking too much.
Let's start with the problems of seasonal over-indulgence. The Government, in the form of the Home Office (4), is trying to stop binge-drinkers from behaving badly. The fact you could get an £80 fine is very clear and the ads are graphic to say the least! It's definitely an important issue, but I wonder how much an ad campaign can stop young men and women behaving like this.
As for shopping, the Argos (1) campaign is quite nice, but a bit on the bland and forgettable side for a shop, I think. The idea of the big book of Christmas and telling stories about how Argos helps you at Christmas is a good one and I really like the ad with the mother and child/little monster. The situation is believable, the acting is great and it makes you feel good about Argos, but it does seem to lack the power of the previous campaign with Richard E Grant, which was very memorable.
Goodwill is oozing from the Vodafone (5) Christmas extravaganza. A big, feelgood song ... now we're talking - this is much more like it! The track is quite catchy and captures the excitement of Christmas: the lyrics don't do much for me though and overall it seems to lack a bit of substance. But my big gripe with the ad is that the celebrities look completely bolted-on and out of place. Both Michael Schumacher and Ruud van Nistelrooy look puzzled about what they are doing with a bunch of ordinary folk in the middle of a pine forest. Mind you, as a Liverpool fan, I can't bring myself to say much good about van Nistelrooy (only kidding, Ruud, you would be welcome at Anfield).
The first of the three non-seasonal ads left me a bit cold, to be honest. The Kellogg (2) Nutri-Grain bars are "made soft and yummy by magic", but magic is what these ads lack. I know it's all meant to be amusing but I think it is patronising the consumers and I definitely don't want to think about something that is meant to be healthy and good for you being made in a grim factory.
McDonald's (6) campaign for its coffee has a really distinctive look to it and a simple message about being "freshly ground without the la-di-dah". I like the way it is down-to-earth and straightforward without being boring. I like the way it has mixed graphics with photography. These ads might actually make me try out the coffee for a change.
Finally, we come to Wonderbra (3). I have to admit that it took me a while to get this poster, but then financial services is more my thing than bras! Once I realised that all the people in it are staring at a girl in a Wonderbra, I thought it was clever and a lot more creative and original than just showing a beautiful girl in a bra. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in this campaign.
Anyway, that's it from me and I know you will all have your own view on my next ads for the bank that always gives you extra!
1. ARGOS Project: Christmas campaign Client: Jenny Parry, advertising and PR manager, Argos Brief: Advertise the Argos Big Book of Christmas Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge Writer: Pete Gatley Art director: Pete Gatley Director: Marc Charach Production company: HLA Exposure: National TV 2. KELLOGG Project: Magic Client: Jeremy Harper, senior brand manager, Kellogg Brief: Relaunch Nutri-Grain under a new positioning Agency: Leo Burnett Writer: Dan Fisher Art director: Rick Brim Director: Jim Hosking Production company: Partizan Exposure: National TV 3. WONDERBRA Project: Experience Wonderyou Client: n/s, Playtex Brief: Raise the profile of Wonderbra and get people to reappraise the brand Agency: Publicis Conseil Writer: Olivier Camensuli Art director: Frederic Royer Photographer: Vincent Dixon Exposure: National press, outdoor 4. HOME OFFICE Project: Alcohol misuse enforcement Clients: Chris Kirby, senior marketing manager; Sharon Sawers, strategic communications advisor, Home Office Brief: Draw attention to the fact that the police have greater powers to crack down on people who get drunk and behave in an unacceptable way Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R Writer: Dan Warner Art director: Andy Vasey Photographer: Nigel Bennett Exposure: National outdoor posters, ambient 5. VODAFONE Project: Under the tree Clients: David Wheldon, global director, brand and customer experience; Colin Clarke, head of global advertising, Vodafone Brief: Celebrate Christmas by encouraging people to bring their world together with a 3G phone Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty Writers: Nick Gill, Ewan Paterson Art directors: Nick Gill, Ewan Paterson Director: Lenard Dorfman Production company: MJZ Exposure: National TV 6. MCDONALD'S Project: Coffee Client: McDonald's Brief: Get people who like "real coffee" to put McDonald's on their consideration list Agency: Leo Burnett Writers: Ed Morris, Trevor Webb Art directors: Ed Morris, Trevor Webb Illustrator: Anthony Burrill Exposure: National outdoor sites