Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Sometimes it seems like this industry is just one big deadline.
Internal approval. Client approval. Consumer approval. Copy dates. Air dates. Each has the potential to affect the work we produce in so many ways. Such pressure.
It can't be healthy. But isn't it exciting? The late, great Douglas Adams famously said: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Have you ever let a deadline fly by? Thought not. Neither have I. Although I must admit the deadline for this week's Private View is making a bit of a whooshing sound right now. Best get on with it. I'd hate to miss the deadline.
First up is Nike (1). Eric Cantona and chums invade a television studio to encourage us to make the beautiful game beautiful again. We are shown various clips of library footage depicting foul and fair play. "Play beautiful," Cantona warns. Hmmm. Nike ads, the very best ones at least, have never told us to play any sport better. They simply showed us. Great athletes demonstrating great skill. Here we have a great athlete demonstrating poor acting ability. It tries too hard, I'm afraid, and feels nothing like as effortless and captivating as previous ads.
PSP (5). Another great brand with a heritage of fantastic work. This time it's a print campaign for the PlayStation Portable. It's all about space. Your space. Space you can do anything you like with. Want to share your girlfriend's white bits with the world? PSP is the place (or space) for you. As a result, we have a campaign that literally shows us the space and offers up suggestions as to what we can do with it. It's a brave and confident client that agrees to buy so much space and put so little on it. I have to admit it left me feeling a little empty.
Tate & Lyle has taken old posters for its Lyle's Golden Syrup (4) and given them a contemporary twist. "A little taste of yesterday ... today." We can tell it's "today" because one of the illustrations has a young boy wearing a baseball cap backwards and the other has evidence of a PlayStation.
They're quite nicely executed but haven't we seen that strategy before?
In the past?
Next is a mailer from the Training and Development Agency (6) for schools.
The name and address of the recipient is printed more than 15 times and once we're inside the envelope, we're asked if we could explain cloning.
I quite like it. I suspect if I was interested in teaching science and it turned up on my doormat, I'd like it even more.
The Home Office's Child protection on the internet (2) gives us a campaign aimed at encouraging children to think twice about who they may be chatting to online. Various banners and videoclips show children potentially vulnerable to a fairly sinister character with a computer "smiley" face for a head.
The character gave me the creeps and, as a result, makes the point quite dramatically.
Finally, a very responsible ad from Diageo (3) asking us to "enjoy alcohol responsibly". A young woman is put in the unfortunate position of being able to watch herself at a house party behaving fairly boisterously while under the influence, presumably of various Diageo products. Nice direction combined with a simple idea make it sobering stuff. I just wonder what effect it will have?
Can you hear that? Sounds like another deadline to me.
MEDIA - Morag Blazey, managing director, PHD
I was quite excited, in a World Cup year, to see two Nike (1) TV ads in my pack, one of them being two minutes and 35 seconds long! The high point is the inevitable footage of Ronaldinho playing his own inimitable brand of Ale House football, which is great. But the message delivered by Nike through Eric Cantona is to make the game beautiful again. Cantona is an interesting choice of messenger. He is, after all, the man who got a suspension doubled for calling each and every member of the French FA an idiot at a disciplinary hearing in 1990, was fined £1,000 for spitting at a Leeds fan at Elland Road, got sent off twice in four days in 1994, and got an eight-month ban for assaulting a spectator at Selhust Park.
I could go on. I'm not sure what Nike wants me to think. Cantona says there is more to come so perhaps it will all become clear before June.
The message in the Diageo (3) drink responsibly ad, however, is very clear and very powerful. It shows a young woman watching herself become increasingly intoxicated at a party where everyone else is sensibly sipping a maximum of two units of alcohol. As she proceeds from stumbling, through embarrassing, to humiliating behaviour, I couldn't help but think: "Have I ever done that ...?" Taking a responsible stance against binge-drinking is long overdue, particularly to this audience, and Diageo deserves recognition for acting and for funding the campaign. But I'm intrigued to know where this will sit in its portfolio?
Will it be top and tailed in breaks with Baileys Minis?
The Home Office's Child protection on the internet (2) online campaign message is equally clear. The opening execution where a shadowy figure appears at the front-door and window of a teenage girl's house is genuinely creepy. The online activity couldn't be better targeted both behaviourally and demographically. But I was slightly concerned that the "emoticon" (yellow animated face) might be slightly misleading to a younger, more intellectually vulnerable audience.
By comparison, the direct mail pack from the Training and Development Agency (6) sent to prospective science teachers, is quite uplifting. It's full of pictures of smiling, inquisitive, attentive teenagers standing round test tubes. (I don't remember smiling much in double physics on a Monday morning.) It also describes in detail the pay structure and bursary available to chemistry and physics applicants. But it doesn't face up to a burning issue for would-be teachers - discipline in the classroom. A paragraph addressing the reality of the schoolroom and the training and support provided would be confident, honest and upfront. It might also temper the impact of tabloid newspaper coverage.
It is very difficult appraising a poster when it is presented on an A3 sheet of paper and read at a maximum distance of arm's length. The Sony PSP (5) ads struck me as press ads until I read otherwise. If you get to see a few executions, they do communicate the breadth of functionality available on the hardware, but I drove past one yesterday and couldn't even read the headline. Clearly I'm not in the target audience, and maybe they read quicker than me. Also I'd axe the "your girlfriend's white bits" execution. The straw poll I conducted on usage would suggest that most members of the target audience don't actually have girlfriends.
And finally the Lyle's Golden Syrup (4) posters: "A little taste of yesterday ... today." These I found to be rather strange. They certainly look old-fashioned at first glance, but then you notice the children are in hoodies and combat trousers. This doesn't give them a contemporary twist, it just makes them look weird and the ads unconvincing. And while I'm at it, what happened to Tate?
1. NIKE Project: Cause Client: Adam Collins, brand communications manager, Nike Brief: Create a worldwide multimedia campaign that reinforces Nike's position as the sole custodian of beautiful football Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam Writers/art directors: Alvaro Sotomayor, Mark Hunter Director: Ulf Johansson Production company: Smith & Sons Exposure: TV, cinema, retail, print 2. HOME OFFICE Project: Child protection on the internet Clients: Sharon Sawers, strategic communications advisor, Home Office; Ayesha Adonais, digital media, COI Brief: Encourage children to question how they behave online Agency: Profero Writer: James Taylor Art director: Ian Owen Exposure: Online 3. DIAGEO Project: Mirror Client: Andy Fennell, marketing director, Diageo Brief: Encourage 18- to 24-year-olds to reconsider their attitudes to alcohol Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Writer: Gary Walker Art director: Huw Williams Director: Paul Gay Production company: Hungry Man Exposure: TV 4. TATE & LYLE Project: Lyle's Golden Syrup Client: Alison Ashman, senior brand manager, Tate & Lyle Brief: Get Lyle's out of the back of the cupboard and support new variants Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge Writers/art directors: Mister & Missus Typographer: Murray Wyse Illustrator: Martin Hargreaves Exposure: National press, posters 5. SONY PSP Project: Do it here Client: Mary Tristram, marketing manager, Sony Computer Entertainment UK Brief: Communicate the breadth of entertainment options on offer from PSP Agency: TBWA\London Writers/art directors: Pete Bastiman, Steve Mawhinney Exposure: National posters 6. TDA Project: Teacher training recruitment Client: Richard Guy, customer relationships manager, Training and Development Agency Brief: Science teacher recruitment Agency: Draft London Writer: Drew Forsyth Art director: Aubrey Laret Exposure: Direct mail from database