Harvey Nichols (4) has got some lovely new press ads ... (Sorry, you didn't really want an introduction, did you? I read through the last month's worth of Private Views and they were all a bit "Just back from my hols", "Bit busy so I'll have to write this quick", "Got this awfully big axe that needs grinding! Ads are dead! Hurry now to my strangely titled and unproven digital agency!" Thought I'd spare you more of the same.) An ultra-sexy lady with a pin instead of a thorax heads for smartly dressed boys who are playing the condom- on-the-head game. Man, are they in for a surprise. The boys, or hopefully girls, who did these ads should expect to scoop prizes and cash in a big sack very soon. Whoop, whoop for advertising. (Oops, not above a little axe grinding myself, it seems.)
Phones 4U (6) has got some lovely new TV ads ... (See what I'm doing here? Putting the brand name at the beginning of each paragraph to make the whole piece nice and easy to follow. Like, say, an ad.) The bullet-proof WCRS has fun making the product guy, Jack, handsome and funny and smart and all slick-hand-jiggly. Meanwhile, the poor old consumers get to be banjo-playing, deformed freaks. Phones 4U are clearly a brave bunch. More whoops for the 25-year-old advertising agency and its wonderful, 100-year-old, bow-tie twirling founder.
Virgin Trains (1) has a lovely new cinema spot. (Rhythmic repetition aids recall, you know.) Red Indians try to attack the swishy new Virgin wingless plane. A neat, funny idea undermined slightly by an economy rather than first-class budget. There's also an horrific bit of acting from the bloke on the train.
Barclays (3) has a lovely new website. (Wouldn't it be great if all the quotes under the pictures opposite were exactly the same?) Good writing, good graphics and, most important, an idea. Everyone nearby - be proud. Cross-looking digital chaps seem to be forever peeking out of the pages of this magazine telling us that ads don't work anymore. This is, of course, the kind of tosh you gabble if you are trying to talk up digital budgets. But it's a shame because the truth is we are all of us using words and pictures to sell. We are brothers and sisters. And dismissing your older, more experienced and demonstrably more effective sibling is a funny way to promote the family.
Nokia (2) has a lovely new full-length movie out. (Oh, sod. Can't quite keep it up. I don't really like this one.) Making an actual movie with the video camera that's welded on to the side of the poetically named Nokia N93 is an excellent idea. But this film doesn't work as well as the script because, I suspect, Gary Oldman wanted the money but didn't want to be in the ad. So he showed up, took the cheque and left his unparalleled acting soul at home. Creative team and creative director: top marks; artist negotiation: detention.
Energy Savings Trust (5) has some lovely new DM. Unfortunately, I didn't get it. That's not to say I didn't understand it, I just physically didn't get it. Problem is, I've got two homes. (Oh, all right, three. If Omnicom ever offers you a job, take it.) I turned out to be spending the summer in the one they didn't send it to. So this time, DM didn't turn out to be as direct as all that. Please turn, if you will, to the opinions of my esteemed and lovely co-writer across the page there. I think what he thinks on the Energy thing.
(You didn't want an outro, did you?)
CREATIVE - Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman, Ogilvy Group
I have a simple test which distinguishes a great film from the merely good. It works like this. It's nearly midnight and you have a pitch the next day at 8am. Just before you head for bed you perform a quick channel scan and notice that film X started 30 minutes ago on Sky channel 316. Do you then stay up until 1am to watch to the very end in spite of having seen the film twice before and (this is the really strange bit) even though you've got a DVD of the same film sitting ten feet away on a shelf?
It is an unorthodox approach to film criticism, I grant. According to this rule Deliverance, The Wicker Man and even Ferris Bueller's Day Off are great movies, while Citizen Kane isn't. But it raises a vital issue: in an age in which we can choose to watch (or not watch) any content at any time we like, to create something compulsively rewatchable is valuable indeed. What made Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and Rob Reiner so good at it? Similarly, why do a few ads make you hit the pause, not FFWD?
Coming in a week when I have watched more YouTube than TV, these seem worthwhile questions. I don't know the answers. What I do know, however, is that nothing this week comfortably passes my test. Little ever does.
In the case of Virgin Trains (1), I think the original launch spot did make the grade. This successor doesn't quite, perhaps because the insight that gave rise to the whole campaign (that while our left brains may mutter irritably when a train is two minutes late, our right brains find train travel evocative and romantic) is a little at odds with the message here - that trains are a great place to think. But it still works, and the ending is a bonus.
The Nokia (2) ad is again watchable, but not quite rewatchable (even though it features Katz's deli, the site of Rob Reiner's most famous film moment). I like the way it suggests that everyday life on the streets provides all the ingredients for a great film. One gripe: if this film was filmed on the cameraphone, why not say so? If not, why not?
As for the Phones 4U (6) campaign, I won't be rewatching it but some people might. It has that rare compelling quality of a cult in the making; that hypnotic appeal of things that simply make no sense. Bullseye, 3-2-1, Lost and the Tellytubbies were all examples of this phenomenon. But commendable though it is to break with stereotypes in advertising, I do wonder what effect there is on a brand by linking it to a cast of grotesques.
The Harvey Nichols (4) print campaign is rewatchable in that I would like to see more of it. It is a delight to see the money fashion brands typically spend on vapid models spent on an idea instead; one that lets you showcase the clothes while also adding value and meaning to them.
The Barclays (3) microsite deserves particular credit for using advanced technology and very clever personalisation in a way which actually enhances and accelerates the communication of the core message, rather than distracting from it.
And the mailing for the Energy Savings Trust (5) is impactful and memorable, but could have used a little more austerity in execution. I am not saying a photo of the balloon would have been enough, but the box and the glitzy helium balloon are a little de trop. If you are asking people to do you a favour, as this piece is, a little humility and understatement in your approach may help. As it is, I feel that this is coming from a quango whose budgets are also rather over-inflated.
Well, with that mandatory pun, I can now bring this Private View to a close. But if you would like to see what I mean by "compulsively rewatchable", visit youtube.com and search for "lady punch".
1: VIRGIN TRAINS
Client: Craig Inglis, sales and marketing director, Virgin Trains
Brief: Demonstrate that time spent on Virgin Trains is time well spent
Writer: Ben Hartman
Art director: Neil Durber
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production company: MJZ
Exposure: TV, cinema, broadband
2. NOKIA N93 MULTIMEDIA PHONE
Project: Film set NYC
Client: Russell Anderson, global campaign manager, Nokia Multimedia
Brief: Global launch of the Nokia N93
Agency: Lowe London
Writer: Oliver Green
Art director: Greg Milbourne
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: Global TV, UK cinema
Project: Win a contract
Client: Ching-Har Wong, senior online marketing manager, Barclays
Brief: Encourage use of Connect and Electron cards
Writers: Alistair Robertson, James Cooper
Art director: Tim Palmer
Production company: Dare
Exposure: Online, TV
4. HARVEY NICHOLS
Project: Harvey Nichols brand 2006
Client: Julia Bowe, marketing director, Harvey Nichols
Brief: Reinforce Harvey Nichols' fashion status
Agency: DDB London
Writer: Ben Tollett
Art director: Emer Stamp
Photographer: Dimitri Daniloff
Exposure: Fashion magazines and supplements
5. ENERGY SAVINGS TRUST
Project: Energy efficiency campaign
Client: Kate Rogers, business marketing executive, Energy Savings Trust
Brief: Encourage housing association tenants to save energy
Agency: Tullo Marshall Warren
Writer: John Aitcheson
Art director: Mickey Madgett
Exposure: 450 helium-balloon mail packs, 401 letters
6. PHONES 4U
Client: Jim Slater, marketing director, Phones 4U
Brief: Drive consideration levels of Phones 4U
Writers: Andy Dibb, Steve Little
Art directors: Andy Dibb, Steve Little
Director: Brian Baderman
Production company: Wanted
Exposure: National TV