As a contemporary Hollywood commentary, William Goldman's book Adventures in the Screen Trade has long been superseded by the likes of Biskind and Thomson. But Goldman's is still a seminal text for all of us trying to hitch a ride at the crossroads of Creativity and Commerce. Perhaps the most telling quote in his book concerns the moguls' attempts to replicate success, to create a box-office formula. He says: "The single most important fact of the entire movie industry is NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING." It is a sobering thought for our own trade. Despite all the research, pre-testing and accumulated wisdom, no-one really knows whether an ad is going to do the business or not. The continually challenging thing about advertising is that everyone is an expert: the client, the consumer, the creative director and even the fresh-faced novice penning the column to your right. Is this work any good? His guess is as good as mine.
You have read the book, seen the film and joined Opus Dei, now visit the scene of the crime. Eurostar (1) has coupled itself to the runaway media phenomenon that is The Da Vinci Code. Unlike the book, this co-conspiracy probably makes eminent sense and logical sense. To those of us who have avoided the Dan Brown express, it just looks like a movie trailer. Given that the UK's entire non-readership of The Da Vinci Code meets in my kitchen on the third Tuesday of every month, this is probably not a problem.
Volkswagen (5) is trying to breathe new life into the New Beetle with some designer paint jobs "inspired by the Beetle's fun and lovable personality". This is a very thought-provoking piece of DM. It made me think long and hard about the kind of twat who is prepared to drive around town in the automotive equivalent of a hand-knitted tank top with "I'm mad me" embroidered across the chest. I cannot blame the messenger, though. This is a well-made, well-written piece. Or not, depending on your point of view.
Robinsons (2) is running a Wimbledon tickets promotion that features Tim Henman and the next Great White Hope in Tennis Whites, Andy Murray. Here, a cliched Japanese tourist couple fail to recognise our Tim and ask him to take their photo. I think this spot might have been funnier and fresher without this racial stereotype, but what do I know?
Kronenbourg Blanc (6) is "a white beer with a subtle hint of citrus".
I do not want to appear too macho, but when I go into a pub, the only "subtle hint of citrus" I want to be aware of comes from those little white cubes at the bottom of the latrines. I am sure Kronenbourg has done its research. Maybe it is trying to lure the laydeez from their spritzers and Breezers. As for the ads, I have seen most of these images before, but who's counting?
Tango (3) Bravia Foxtrot, the bouncing balls are back. Tango has beaten everyone else to air with its painstaking parody of the Sony Bravia ad.
For what it is worth, I think these homages get rather more kudos and attention in our little world than the real one. That said, this is well-executed, as unstinting on detail as it probably was on budget. The North Swansea website is a nice touch, too. I think.
I am sorry if I seem a little world-weary and jaded this time, it is just I have had a bit of a Weetabix (4) week. You know, those weeks when you are surrounded by implausibly "real" people mouthing banal product-speak in some fake reality-TV-challenge-documentalist-trial-event. You don't? Well, check out these prime examples and weep at the sight of a much-loved household name reduced to peddling its wares like a daytime TV loan shark. As for the serving suggestions, with their time-honoured slow-mo pour shots, never has cereal adultery seemed so mundane and unattractive. But that is just my opinion. As my new friend Russ Lidstone is fond of quoting: "An expert is someone who has stopped thinking." Think I had better stop it right there.
PLACEMENT - Dominic Moira, on placement, DFGW
As I grope my way in this business, many people have told me that I have some big shoes to fill. Maybe so, but what of the pants I nearly filled when asked to write this column? Who would care for the thoughts of an impudent upstart such as myself? No-one. And that is when I started to relax. It is not my place to criticise this work and it probably never will be.
I remember part of my training with Dave Trott fondly. The first thing he told me was that I knew nothing, and he was right. So I'm going to use my experience as a novice copywriter and my time as a professional consumer to help me assess this work. I was also lucky enough to be involved in a campaign that split the opinion of the two reviewers on these very pages a few weeks ago. So, to the gentleman who did not take kindly to the work, I shall quote the words of The Dude from The Big Lebowski: "Yeah, well that's just, like, your opinion, man." And, for what it is worth, this is mine.
Eurostar (1) has teamed up with The Da Vinci Code film and is getting people to join the quest online. It seems nearly everyone has either watched or read Dan Brown's monsterpiece, but if you are like me and just read the reviews, then you might be feeling a little left out.
This ad looks and feels the part, but I cannot help feeling a little left out because of my indifference to the original.
For the Robinsons (2) spot, the young hope Andy Murray usurps the fading Tim Henman at Wimbledon as the latter is distracted in the queue. The message of getting into Wimbledon with Robinsons is delivered with a playful joke that ties into the brand perfectly.
The happy-snappy Japanese are a bit old school, but then so too is Wimbledon, I guess.
I've loved Tango (3) as a brand since childhood, mainly because of its mischief and surreal humour. It had children slapping each other silly in the playground (my cheeks are still warm, my ears still ringing) and the "St George" ad is one of my all-time favourites. That is why its new Sony Bravia "balls" spoof surprised me with its fidelity to the original. How can you have a Tango ad where nobody gets quite badly hurt? Surely the drainpipe frog was ripe for a splatting? That said, the choice of location is inspired.
The first of three Weetabix (4) ads kicks off with a blonde sitting at a kitchen table with a burly fireman. I thought I was in for some hot gonzo action and, sure enough, it was not long before hot, thick jets of milk were spurting everywhere. It turns out the ads are just telling us you can put lots of different healthy stuff on Weetabix and feel really great about it. I do not trust so-called "normal" people telling me about their product experiences, which is why I think the spot detailing the serving suggestions is far more effective.
The Volkswagen (5) direct mail is well-written stuff wrapped in a nice-looking package. For me, the copy stands out in particular because it manages to describe the New Beetle's features and make the four custom paint designs sound appealing. They are not. Gimp my ride?
I will stick with 20-inch rims, spinners and furry dice.
The Kronenbourg Blanc (6) ads are clean and simple. The lemon squeezer execution communicates the hint of citrus message louder than the other three. In my experience, a hint is a bad thing that people usually cannot take. I am going to take the hint, though, and do one but, before I go, I would quickly like to say thanks to the agencies that have taken me under their wing during my time on placement, and to DFGW especially.
Client: Greg Nugent, head of marketing, Eurostar
Brief: Drive consumers to Eurostar's The Da Vinci Code promotional
Writer: Graham Cappi
Art director: James Gillman
Directors: Tom and Charlie Guard
Production company: Independent
Exposure: National TV
Client: Jonathan Gatward, brand controller, Britvic-Robinsons
Brief: Promote the Robinsons on-pack promotion
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers: Victoria Daltry, William Bingham
Art directors: Victoria Daltry, William Bingham
Director: Simone Levene
Production company: Therapy Films
Exposure: National TV
Client: Richard Collins, director of brand marketing, Britvic
Brief: Entertaining fruity refreshment
Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge
Writer: Micky Tudor
Art director: Micky Tudor
Director: Jim Gilchrist
Production company: Thomas Thomas Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Weetabix week
Client: Tony Corp, marketing controller, Weetabix
Brief: Encourage people to eat Weetabix in different ways
Writer: Andy Brittain
Art director: Leon Jaume
Director: Charlie Stebbings
Production company: Park Village
Exposure: National TV
Project: New Beetle
Client: Catherine Woolfe, marketing communications manager, Volkswagen
Brief: Promote the special edition Luna version of the Volkswagen New
Beetle plus a designer decal range
Agency: Proximity London
Writer: Anna Nichols
Art director: Laura Orton
Photographer: Chris Myhill
Exposure: 90,000 existing and prospective owners, mostly women
6. KRONENBOURG BLANC
Client: Russell Browne, activation manager, Scottish & Newcastle
Brief: Launch Kronenbourg Blanc, a new addition to the Kronenbourg 1664
family, for the on-trade
Agency: Harrison Troughton Wunderman
Writers: Ross Keenlyside, Simon Armstrong
Art directors: Ross Keenlyside, Simon Armstrong
Photographer: Paul Zack
Exposure: On-trade posters