I have Attention Deficit Disorder. Getting me to sit down and watch a reel of ads is tough at the best of times. Asking me to spend 30 minutes writing about them is near impossible.
So with that in mind, here we go. The ADD Guy's Guide to Ads.
Even at x32 (I watch everything at x32 these days) the Prince's Trust (6) ad seemed slow. This 60-second ad drags out the simple idea literally step by step and, as the tagline warns, is in danger of following the well-worn path every other charity ad has walked before.
The BBC Jam (3) campaign, on the other hand, had me and the kids jumping up and down. I placed the disc in the machine, and from the first frame which read "we are Fallon," it grabbed my attention (the Fallon brand is so strong in this country now that even the BBC put it on their ads).
Not one, but five, beautifully crafted idents for what I mistakenly thought was a kids' TV show. They're fresh, fun, interesting and, most importantly, made me think that the channel or website would be like a modern-day Sesame Street. But when I went to the site, it was completely different, not that it wasn't good, it's BBC good, but it just didn't seem to reflect the same brand. Mind you, for somebody who can't stay in one room for more than five minutes, I have just spent 15 minutes exploring a website for my kids.
Then there was Bisto (2). Errrrr. Bisto. In a world of fresh food, this advertising feels decidedly stale, with no apparent reason to exist. It's like Dove for chickens.
And then, as if surfing on a wave of Ritalin, I experienced the aptly titled Space.NK Apothecary (5) master - 60 seconds of bliss that literally floated from one image to another, finally coming to rest on a woman inside a lily inside a box inside an ad. So intoxicating was the music and the perfume that seemed to emit from the screen, that my computer was hypnotised into a loop of continuous play. By the time I came to, I realised I had in fact watched the ad more than 13 times.
Back to the real world. Visit London (1). A poster that sent my hyperactive synapses into overdrive and simply made me want to get the Lond-off and go home.
The final entry simply asked me to visit YouTube - the world where attention deficit is not a disorder but a cost of entry. I watched the video as pound after pound of metaphorical media spend dropped before my eyes, eventually resting on an opportunity to win £10,000 to get my idea "rolling" on Sky One's The Big Idea show. I'm not sure what the role of Vodafone (4) was in this, or for that matter, whether the agency got the cash; however, what I do think is great is the fact that ADDers have viewed, endorsed and passed this film around the world. More than 437,000 entries have appeared on Google, with many inspired enough to offer their very own user-generated private view. (Why would anybody in their right mind offer to do Private View?)
Adult Attention Deficit Disorder is the latest official thing in the US right now, so I am clearly not the only ADD guy in this world.
But there is a cure. Television technology is clearly putting the short of attention-span in control. They can fast-forward, rewind, pause or even delete our ads whenever they want. On broadband, they can endorse, review and make their own commercials.
So before we lose people's interest (and I lose yours), let's make sure we continue to create ideas that generally do capture people's attention, otherwise it may not just be their interest that we lose.
But that's just my Private View.
PRIVATE VIEW - STRATEGIST - PAUL EDWARDS, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, PUBLICIS
Thank you for inviting me to view privately. I read every week, but it has never occurred to me that we view so much stuff out of context, and how much more difficult that makes it to have a valid opinion. I have only seen one of these offerings in my real life, and that was Bisto (2). We have charming children with regional accents, so we must be in the presence of a national treasure. I think, madam, that your strategy may be showing - we all love Bisto, but we just don't eat those kind of meals anymore. But I sort of applaud the effort to try and change behaviours in your favour; there is no need and no point in trying to make me love the brand more. But if it is going to work, I need to see it more than in your advertising (where is Jamie Oliver when you need him?), and I haven't yet.
Let's stay with children and look at BBC Jam (3). Gorgeous animation with echoes of my Watch with Mother years. So very BBC, but it looks like the national curriculum resource site trying to be a bit funky. Trying too hard, perhaps?
Growing up a little and we move on to the Prince's Trust (6). This is the sort of gritty and hard-hitting film that would never have been possible before Hill Street Blues. I could go off into the debate between predestination and free will that the film evokes, but I'll leave you to watch it for yourself. I thought it was going to leave us in a dark and hopeless place, but at the last moment the bee of hope landed on the shoulder of our young protagonist. Call me old-fashioned, but charity ads have to leave me with optimism or I don't believe it's worth me making the effort to help.
An uneasy link takes us swiftly to Visit London (1). This comes to me in the form of a very long roll, and I am left wondering in what medium this would appear. It certainly captures the life and excitement of modern London, so perhaps it does its job.
While in the street, I notice Space.NK Apothecary (5). A very arty film here, with strong roots in the world of perfume advertising. I suspect this beautiful film confirms what I think if I love the brand, but I'm not sure the retail instinct in me is satisfied that new footfall will be attracted. But you never know, perhaps the Space.NK lovers will use the film to sell me the virtues of the shop.
You spend money in shops, which takes us neatly (you be the judge of that) to an extraordinary video of pound coins used as dominoes in a two-minute display to boggle the imagination. Yes, it is a bit Honda "cog" but as my Gran used to say: "There are only eight notes on the piano and look how many songs there are." Now, this video appears on YouTube to attract me to the website that is promoting The Big Idea show on Sky which is sponsored by Vodafone (4). Wow, you don't get much more new media than that! So far, this has been viewed 214,000 times, which is a lot less than a break of Coronation Street, but I suspect it is a triumph of film which will lead a lot of people to the website. I almost feel it's too good for the programme.
You can feel that some fairly careful targeting has gone into all of these (Bisto is the only one that feels genuinely mass market). I suppose that is a consequence of being able to use the media more precisely, but we must make sure we don't make this an excuse to have smaller ideas. No matter what the size of the canvas, a big idea is what always delivers against business targets.
1. VISIT LONDON
Project: Totally London (Europe)
Client: Martine Ainsworth Wells, director of marketing, Visit London
Brief: Increase the number of visitors to London
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers/art directors: Nick Simons, Jules Chalkley
Artist: David Mach
Typographer: Jason Hyde
Exposure: Print in London, Rome, Milan, Berlin, Madrid
Project: Bisto cooking sauces
Client: Natalie Panna, marketing manager, Bisto
Brief: Launch Bisto's range of cooking sauces with the "Aaah night" idea
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Matt Crabtree
Art director: Simon Hepton
Director: Rob Saunders
Production company: Amarillo
Exposure: National TV
3. BBC JAM
Project: Learning the way I live
Client: Jennifer Callahan, head of marketing, new media and learning,
Brief: Launch BBC Jam
Writers: Matt Keon, Andy Lockley
Art directors: Matt Keon, Andy Lockley
Directors: Caroline Melis, Woof Wan, Team Stush
Production companies: Nexus, Partizan
Exposure: BBC TV, online
Project: Coin dominoes
Client: David Perry, brand communications and planning manager,
Brief: Build fame of Vodafone's involvement with The Big Idea and drive
entries to the competition by creating content to spread virally
Writer: Alistair Robertson
Art director: Alex Braxton
Exposure: YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo! Video, Lucos Viral Chart,
5. SPACE.NK APOTHECARY
Brief: Help the brand's expansion plans and overcome any sense of
intimidation felt by Space.NK's nearly customers
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Writer: Mark McCall
Art director: Guy Featherstone
Director: Merlin Nation
Production company: Up the Resolution
Exposure: FilmFour, UK cinemas
6. PRINCE'S TRUST
Project: Helping change young lives
Client: Carol Homden, commercial director, the Prince's Trust
Brief: Promote the Prince's Trust's message to a broader audience
Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge
Writer: Angus Wardlaw
Art director: Alexei Berwitz
Directors: Dom Hawley, Nick Goffey
Production company: Outsider