So it is about "engagement", not "interruption". What a shame no-one thought to tell John Webster.
Tetley's (2) and St Ivel (1). The kind of brands the guv'nor would have made famous. Both of these TV ads start by interrupting us. Of course they do. No-one switches on their TV to watch ads, after all. Promisingly, however, in both the interruption quickly gives way to engagement as, in the Tetley's ad, we are intrigued by the epic Gladiator-style massing of a medieval army and, in the St Ivel spot, it is the underwater movement of a shoal of fish that grasps our attention. And then, just as suddenly as our expectations are raised, they are let down again. It turns out Russell Crowe was not preparing for battle at all. He was preparing for a fancy dress party at his local all along. And the reason he brought an entire army with him? "Tetley's don't do things by halves." Meanwhile, back underwater, we are learning that a great source of essential Omega 3 is fish, only to cut to a tub of St Ivel and be told, almost apologetically, that Omega 3 is also available in ... St Ivel. In each ad, the most disappointing bit is the introduction of the product and that cannot be good for business.
In both cases, ultimately, we are left unrewarded so, I am afraid, interruption triumphs over engagement.
When you do Private View, if you are really clever, you can sometimes work out the identity of the agency behind the work with the help of, say, an agency-branded DVD cover. I have the utmost respect for the agency behind the Ask.com (6) work, which is why, although 24 probably is not the record number of words ever on a 48-sheet poster, I have trouble believing this agency would have advocated as many on these posters. The TV ad dramatises the claim "ask and you will get" by depicting a young guy successfully asking total strangers to help him indulge in childlike pursuits. It is nicely made but, in truth, the young guy is probably more rewarded than we are.
I have no idea what to say about the Land Rover (5) direct mail piece. It is standard corporate literature about a jeep.
The property licence print campaign from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (3) employs the same visual idea in three executions or, put another way, it is one gag from Two Jags. I suppose it does follow that if you fail to secure a licence before renting your property and get fined £20,000, you could indeed lose that property, but the campaign just does not feel quite as compelling as the proposition suggests it might have been.
Finally, three interactive online banners from Virgin promoting Virgin Money (4). "Want to see something fun?" one teases me and, given it is Virgin asking, I am expectant. After all, Virgin is a cool brand (weird - I'm sitting on a Virgin flight writing this. I must be cool). I click on "yes" and am disappointingly unrewarded by some average graphics and the audacious claim (given the averageness) that "things get more exciting when you say yes". Well, no, they didn't. I was having more fun signing forms. And now I feel let down by and less enamoured with a brand that has just wasted five minutes (not 30 seconds) of my time. A brand I thought got it. Got what? Got that while the new spaces, the many new and diverse ways to reach people, undeniably provide many new and exciting opportunities, the fundamental rules haven't changed. Being in these new spaces in itself is not enough. You still have to be entertaining in them, rewarding in them, brilliant in them, engaging in them. Very often more so, given they ask for more of your time.
Of course, John Webster knew all about engagement versus interruption.
Which is why at the last count the score was something like Interruption: nil; the greatest writer of British television advertising ever: 5,832.
CREATIVE - Paul Banham, creative director, Agency.com
A little bird has told me people are spending more time sitting in front of the internet than they are spending in front of the TV. Surely TV isn't really on the ropes? Well, seeing as I am reviewing just one online offering today, clearly not yet. Anyway, let battle commence.
First into the VHS player is some work for Tetley's (2). We open on a scene reminiscent of Gladiator, with Roman cohorts being led through the woods by their Legatus legionis. As he breaks through the treeline and rides out into the open, the camera pans around to reveal what must be every single extra in the country dressed in full Roman attire. From here, he rides along the front rank in an attempt to rally them before battle. He needn't have bothered, as the enemy on this day is beaten with ease because they turn out to be his mates down at the White Horse having some sort of fancy dress party. The super informs us that Tetley's doesn't do anything by halves. And, I add, neither do the teams down at Charlotte Street.
The next work is a campaign for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (3). The target audience for this one is anyone who is renting or about to rent out their property. Why? Well, the ODPM would like you to check to see if you need a property licence first. If you have not got one, it would like to see you get a substantial fine instead. It is your choice. However, the ads should help most people avoid the latter. They are visually powerful and intriguing enough to make anyone look a little closer. Job done.
Third up is a DM piece for Land Rover (5), which informs us that permanent four-wheel drive guarantees you more grip. This is aptly demonstrated by attaching four bulldog clips to half-a-dozen individual A5 bits of 300gsm card (at a guess). The information printed on the bits of card isn't that gripping and reads like any other car brochure - but, all in all, not a bad piece of work.
Next, a TV and poster campaign for Ask.com (6). The TV spot has a thirtysomething chap wandering about, looking a little dishevelled. As he wanders around in his melancholy mood, he asks for everything he wants, such as a push on a swing, a piggy-back ride and the chance to drive an ice-cream van.
The point of all this is that if you don't ask, you don't get. The idea and execution are very nice, but because of the choice of music it feels a little arduous to me. Perhaps the team could have asked to hear a few more tracks?
Now the chaps at St Ivel (1) want us to eat their new Gold spread because it is full of the "right type" of Omega 3. The television ad demonstrates this very nicely by showing a shoal of fish forming a healthy, beating heart. It is lovely and simple.
Last up, an internet campaign for Virgin Money (4). These ads work on the simple premise that things get more exciting when you say yes. As soon as you press the button on the units they do. But my problem here is not the ads, which are OK; it is more the strategy, or rather the lack of one. Why am I going to bank with Virgin Money just because things get more exciting? If Virgin Money had better rates or better customer service then possibly, but as a campaign proposition, it is poor.
Based on this week's selection, there is definitely still a large role for television to play within the advertising landscape, but the real question is for how long? Is it really possible that online will become more fashionable than its television counterpart? Probably not, but it could certainly become more effective.
1. ST IVEL Project: School of St Ivel Client: Richard Tolley, marketing director, Dairy Crest Brief: Support the launch of St Ivel Gold Omega 3 Agency: Grey London Writer: Steve McKenzie Art director: Christian Cotteril Director: Laurent Boudoiseau Production company: Independent Films Exposure: National TV 2. TETLEY'S Project: Fancy dress Client: Darran Britton, director of brands and marketing, Carlsberg UK Brief: Give bitter back its self-confidence while staying true to its spirit Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Writer: Dave Henderson Art director: Richard Denney Director: Matthius Van Heuningen Production company: MJZ Exposure: National TV 3. ODPM Project: Landlord's property licence Client: Rebekah Clark, marketing manager, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Brief: Drive awareness of the new landlord licensing regulation Agency: Euro RSCG London Writer: Paul Williams Art director: Peter Cheeseman Exposure: Posters, radio, online 4. VIRGIN MONEY Project: Say yes Client: Virgin Money Brief: Create a compelling and intriguing campaign, beyond the industry norm Agency: Glue London Writers/art directors: James Leigh, Darren Giles, Christine Turner, Simon Lloyd Designers: Ben Pearce, Matt Verity Exposure: Placements across MSN, AOL, Wanadoo and Yahoo!, paid-for search, affiliate networks, Money Extra and Motley Fool 5. LAND ROVER Project: Defender prospecting Clients: Rob Gray, Defender communications manager, Land Rover Global; Serge Sergiou, CRM and internet manager, Land Rover UK Brief: Encourage prospects to request a test drive or more information Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel Writers: Vaughan Townsend, David Brown Art director: Jo Jenkins Exposure: Mail to 15,000 prospects 6. ASK.COM Project: Wanderer Client: Rachel Johnson, vice-president, marketing, Europe, Ask.com Brief: Relaunch Ask.com Agency: Fallon Writer: Micah Walker Art director: Micah Walker Director: Nick Gordon Production company: Academy Films Exposure: National TV