I was gearing up to give some parochial UK ad village fops a leathering, but this ambition was annoyingly stymied by the Toyota RAV 4 (6) work, which I have to admit through gritted and ill-fitting teeth is terrific in its depiction of a modern-day joust as nutters dressed in medieval armour stand on the roofs of two RAV 4s driven toward each other by some other nutters. I know it's viral, but it manages to not only be something you'd e-mail to a friend (the 21st century equivalent of that awful 80s phrase "award-winning"), but also to remain bang-on brand and strategy (RAV 4x4s are robust, highly manoeuvrable and great fun) - rarely done in the "anything goes" viral universe.
The rest of the stuff in this week's bag is standard ad village fare: stuff adfolk can discuss intelligently and with varying degrees of positivity or otherwise. The J20 (1) spot with people putting all kinds of receptacles out to catch rain, ending with the idea of "If rain were J20" or something, is nice enough ad break fare. If it's fine by you, your client and consumers, then it's fine by me.
Then there's the McDonald's (2) spot, where a bunch of walkers find their lost friend in a McDonald's flirting with girls. Ad break wallpaper. Lazy: won't cause a ripple in the real world, which is the worst and most dangerous kind of laziness.
The Subaru (3) print is as elegant and neat a little car print ad campaign as you'll see, made up of witty little ditties from the point of view of a butterfly, a jelly, a hairpin etc. Does it stir the old-school press copywriter in me? Hugely. Will it sell exotic SUVs at tens of thousands of pounds a pop? Never. Ever. All of this effort should have gone online.
I like the work for 24 (5) on Sky, but because it has some Degree elements, my agency did some work on this, which was obviously brilliant.
The Sky (4) work, however, is poor by any standards. I think it's a list of all the things Sky does, but I don't remember. And if I don't, how will people who don't think about this stuff for a living?
Now, maybe I'm being a bit unfair. Maybe in each case I've only seen one facet of what are extensive communications packages, going right down to a full-sized Subaru in a jelly in six major city centres or orange skating-rinks of frozen J20, in which case I apologise. But to be honest, it all has the feeling of fiddling while the post-industrial economy disappears in your rear-view mirror. Do intelligent grown-up ad folk in our increasingly virtual economy really think that today's consumers still gather round to lap up anodyne, thinly veiled marketing strategies from traditional media?
Then again, I've been away from Blighty for a while and maybe old-fashioned is the new in thing. For instance, the good old time-dishonoured practice of struggling agency management covering up their shortcomings by sacrificing the creative director as I recently read has happened to one of the UK's top creative chiefs, the brilliant, multi-talented Nick Bell. All with some mould-breakingly ungentlemanly quotes in the press of the kicking-a-guy-when-he's-down variety.
MEDIA - Mark Holden, PHD Network
The IPA recently published a report called Magic and Logic about running a profitable agency, the word "magic" referring to all of the intangible benefits that agencies can bring to an advertiser. Arguably the most important magic is the core creative idea; the content, the end product. And, as we all know, this sort of magic doesn't happen very often. And, unfortunately, it hasn't happened this week. What we have here is a collection of good-to-average pieces of communication, all of which will perform to the average AI scores of their respective categories.
The new J20 (1) campaign starts with people wandering out on to the streets, ostensibly to collect rainwater. The accompanying track promises a reveal for a new mobile service or HDTV. I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed when I found out it was for a soft drink. But not quite as disappointed when I once ordered a J20 in a bar to find out that it was non-alcoholic. So perhaps, at least, this ad is based on a product truth.
Although Sky (4)'s new campaign for the launch of its triple-play offering is enjoyable to watch, it is a little underwhelming. Although triple-play isn't new (many of us have been conferencing about it for years), it is still a relatively big deal for Sky customers. A big deal that this ad seems to, in a way, play down. Not that this isn't an effective piece of communication as it uses emotive imagery in a dynamic way to further connect Sky to all of the powerful associations of entertainment. It's just that it feels like another ad in the series, the sort of ad that would tell you of a price promotion.
Unless I am missing a deeper twist, the latest ad for McDonald's (2) is simply about a bunch of hikers trying to find their friend Dave and then finally finding him in a McDonald's. The ad then cuts to the sales pitch about new comfort food range. It performs a reasonably respectable job of intrigue, reveal and sell. But that's about it. I did, however, like the way that they have evolved the sonic-logo (the de de da da dah bit) by having it whistled. And the way that it has dropped the "lovin' it" part, knowing that people will fill in this bit in their heads. This evolution will help to further establish it as one of the most recognised sonic-logos of the moment.
The viral movie created for the Toyota RAV 4 (6) is an interesting one. It features a series of men, of an age that should know better, using the RAV 4 as a horse in a jousting competition. The thing is, the concept is funnier than the execution. And you get the concept in the first few seconds. It may generate a smile in the mind, but not on the face. If this sort of work is to be called viral it should have bigger ambitions to live up to its name - by being funnier or more risque.
The other car campaign this week is for Subaru (3). They have created a series of print executions featuring messages from unusual things such as A. Jelly (telling you why the car doesn't wobble) or by A. Decibel (telling you why the car is so quiet). This is a nice idea that has a "campaignable" feel to it.
And then finally we have the second Sky campaign of the week with the digital work for 24 (5). The core of this is a faux-website for the US Counter Terrorist Unit. Enter your details and then your mobile phone starts ringing with a message to get involved. You are then sent text messages asking you to go to different websites to find out information. For those with a bit more spare time, this really is an excellent piece of digital marketing for brand engagement. Find time to see it. Visit CTUAgent.com. It's the closest thing to magic you will see this week.
Clients: Deborah Caldow, senior brand manager, J2O; Josephine Villegas,
marketing manager, Britvic
Brief: Turn J2O from an iconic product to an iconic brand
Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge
Writer: Simon Hipwell
Art director: Matt Pam
Director: Simon Ratigan
Production company: HLA
Exposure: National TV
Client: Tom Shelston, senior brand manager, McDonald's UK
Brief: Launch the McDonald's winter menu and position the restaurant as
a place of solace and warmth
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writers/art directors: Jim Bolton, Jonathan Burley
Director: Sam Cadman
Production company: Rogue Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Subaru Tribeca
Client: Jon Nealon, marketing director, Subaru UK
Brief: Promote the many virtues of the Subaru Tribeca
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Creative directors: Paul Briginshaw, Malcolm Duffy
Photographer: David Gill
Exposure: National press and magazines
Project: See, Speak, Surf
Client: Charles Ponsonby, brand marketing and sales director, BSkyB
Brief: Promote Sky's triple-play package
Writer: Yan Elliott
Art director: Luke Williamson
Production company: Golden Square
Exposure: National TV
Project: 24:day six
Clients: Alexandra Lewis, marketing director, Sky Networks; Sophie
Jones, senior marketing manager, Sky One
Brief: Create buzz around the new season of 24 on Sky One
Art director: Meme
Exposure: Sky TV, online, outdoor, press, radio
Client: Lisa Fielden, brand development manager, Toyota GB
Brief: Create a viral for the RAV 4 "recreation defined" campaign
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Howard Green
Art director: Pablo Videla
Director: Owen Harris
Production company: Hungry Man