Writing Private View at the end of July is a bit like hosting the graveyard shift of a local radio station: no-one is listening. The type of show that relies on the odd crank willing to call up the station at two in the morning, to talk to the cynical old hack of a DJ (and the five other listeners) about their beagle's haemorrhoids.
Oh, you'll just have to excuse me - I have a TV commercial coming in on line two. Expedia (1) tells us that clouds can travel around at will. Book online with Expedia and you too can travel as easily as a cloud but more knowledgeably, because you will have lots of ideas for places to go. This commercial suffers from way too many screen shots of the Expedia website, in the middle of an idea which is as fragile as a cumulo-nimbus ... clunk, brrrr ...
We seem to have lost line two ... line three? We have a piece of direct mail on line three ... full of useful recipes, which all include Hellmann's (4) light mayonnaise. If you do not have any mayo, you get 60 pence-worth of vouchers to go and buy some, but if you have an old jar sitting in the back of the fridge which you just have not been able to scrape clean then, just for you, tucked in the back, is a real plastic Hellmann's Extra Light scraper outerer. Surely this mayhem of mayo is the product of hot-housing in a mayonnaise focus group? File next to "How to make a balaclava for a mouse out of an old sock" ... clunk, brrrr ...
Line one? Hello, you're through. We have a print campaign on line one - Florette (3). The headline of this campaign invites you to add what you want to make your own Moroccan or Thai adventure. You are then presented with a story, which is scattered with blanks - all you have to do is fill them in and complete the story. Cunningly, at the climax of your adventure, the blanks run out and you are forced to order a salad in a very loud voice: "A VARIETY OF LEAVES, TOSSED WITH AN ORANGE VINAIGRETTE SCATTERED WITH APRICOTS AND PUMPKIN SEEDS." You are then asked the question: "What would you enjoy with it? Chicken, _____ or something altogether more spicy?" Clunk, brrrr ... a late-night crank of a campaign for lonely lettuce lovers who like their lollo rosso smothered in double entendres.
Line six? Over on line six is a print campaign from Cobra (6) for lower-cal, low-carb beer. Cobra is telling me that if I really cannot hack diet foods such as crispbread and celery, I don't have to give up my diet. All I have to do is revert to plan B. Plan B is drinking beer - yes, drinking beer. The copy then rants on, denying all of the above and finally telling me not to drink too much. Clunk, brrrr ...
No, I'm not testing if you're still listening; all these ads are for real.
Line five. Hello? In the Clarks (2) TV spot, a young boy plays keepy-uppy all over his house with a red balloon, set to The Jam's A Town Called Malice. It is nicely shot, with a sweet performance from the boy and guess what? It actually makes sense.
Over to line four - I think we have a celebrity on line four. In the latest offering from the Orange (5) film commissioning board, Steven Seagal wants to shed his action-movie persona and make an art film. During his pitch, which takes place on a golf course, an action movie breaks out and Steven's dream of art house acclaim is shattered. I really liked this campaign; the first couple of TV spots were brilliant. This one is not any better than the others, it is just bigger. However, this whole campaign has left me wanting to see the film Orange did commission.
That's all for today. Remember to tune in next July. Clunk, brrrr ...
CREATIVE - Simon Smith, founder and creative partner, Weapon7
My views on advertising? Many drunken hours of conversation on this topic should make writing this easy. Where have all the pioneers gone? Why would you continue to interrupt when you can involve? What would advertising's founders do when confronted with today's changes? Would they still want their initials on their buildings? Can tipping points be created? Yadda yadda.
And then there is formula. Why do we still break on TV with 60-second ads, drop down to 30, then ten, alongside some outdoor and print? Audited budget-dependant, of course. The originators of advertising were anything but reactionary, so why are their children?
Nope, hang on. I am sounding like a Jehovah's Witness. Put the tambourine down.
The past few years have pronounced fat as the new smoking. The fear of future legal action now cleverly transformed into today's "caring" brands. People who do not know the difference between carbs, calories and GI need saving.
The male muffin top emerges as the new topic of magazines and daytime television, the only defence to be found is self-cleansing alfalfa sprouts, whole grains and seaweed.
The Cobra (6) ad is certainly simple, the boredom of the diet offset by the ease of the product. Its simplicity got my attention and I understood the message. But I do not drink beer, low-carb or not, so its all wasted on me.
Hats off to the creative team on the Orange (5) cinema campaign, getting away with depicting the client's advertising team as a bunch of complete marketing morons - genius. Luckily, this has always been camouflaged beautifully in the brilliant Steve & Brennan performance. Orange launched with the strength and belief that cut a furrow that others have followed, but today the market has sadly slipped to the reactionary: deal of the week. Maybe the market is ripe for a shake-up. That said, it makes me smile and I have always been an Orange consumer.
Clarks (2) is a feel-good football ad that I cannot help thinking is a few months late. It can be described simply as Billy Elliot meets Ian Wright, which is a shame because the line "For every kid, there's a shoe that fits" is fertile territory.
The online travel industry is enormous. So why is Expedia (1) still spending millions on TV explaining its basic offering, which is no longer unique? Equally weird is the analogy that clouds are like people, they know how to travel. My meteorology is not great, but this is just crap. The waste of 30 seconds is topped off with a slickly sung endline, "let yourself go", that really is only fit for 80s feminine hygiene ads. I would recommend spending this TV budget on targeted print and internet marketing.
Florette (3) - I have been invited to create my own adventure. Oh, an invitation to participate in the brand's vibrant new campaign? Well, not really - I am confronted with a page of copy with some blanks left for me to fill in. To be honest, I did not know they still made ads with this much copy. David Abbott might well be proud of the amount of copy, but I would suggest that the quality would not impress him. This is an incredibly boring adventure that does not reflect well.
Now Hellmann's (4) is a strange campaign. It is a funny-shaped spoon, designed to get more Hellmann's out of the jar, all wrapped up in a DM piece telling you some recipes and a competition to win a fridge. Now, I imagine that this campaign would not be aimed at me, but the use of "amayonnaising" is unforgivable. I still have this niggling thought that pointing out a product failure just is not smart. My advice is to buy the squeezy bottle.
The John Wannamaker saying that half of his advertising is wasted seems a little hopeful these days. Oh, that was fun.
Project: Summer 2006 campaign
Client: Elyas Chowdhury, marketing director, Expedia
Brief: Demonstrate how the new-look Expedia website makes it easier for
everyone to book the right trip for them
Writer/art director: Dave Waters
Director: Tom Merillion
Production company: Blink
Exposure: National TV, cinema, press, online
Project: Kids TV
Client: Rosemary Carr, global marketing director, Clarks
Brief: Promote Clarks as a destination for out-of-school footwear
Agency: St Luke's
Writer: Andy Drugan
Art director: Simon Friedberg
Directors: Dom & Nic
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: National TV
Project: A Taste Of ... salads launch
Clients: Sandy Sewell, commercial director; Elaine Smith, marketing
Brief: Launch Florette's range of salads, inspired by recipes from
around the world
Agency: Hooper Galton
Writers: Trevor de Silva, Jude Healey
Art director: Dave Westland
Retouching: Hooper Galton
Exposure: Women's magazines
Project: Hellmann's Extra Light scraper outerer
Client: Erin Smith, Hellmann's brand manager, Unilever
Brief: Demonstrate Hellmann's Extra Light's versatility and encourage
Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel
Writer: Rebecca Rae
Art directors: Leigh Roberts, Olu Falola
Exposure: DM to 350,000 prospects, microsite
Project: Gold spot cinema
Client: Pippa Dunn, brand managing director, Orange
Art director: Mother
Director: Bryan Bickley
Production company: Hungry Man
Project: Plan B
Client: Simon Edwards, marketing director, Cobra
Brief: Drive reappraisal of "lite" beer among a younger female audience
and encourage trial of Cobra Lower Cal, Lower Carb
Writer: Lyndsey McMorrow
Art director: Andy Kelleher
Photographer: Max Oppenheim
Exposure: Young women's magazines