We've had a lot of building work going on in the office over the past few days, so my original plan of sitting with Benny, our 70-year-old, Irish "Mr Fix Everything", and reviewing the work together didn't quite pan out. Shame, I wanted to write something funny (would've been, promise). So, without a back-up, him being the funny one and all, I guess I'll just say whatever comes into my head. Apologies.
First up, the Harvey Nichols (2) print. I'd say this campaign's probably going to win a few awards, especially the graph execution. It is simply art directed. The idea and line "for a wonderful life" doesn't really mean anything to me, attached to expensive clothing, but hey, we don't always really mean what we say, and "for successful living" ran for years. What bothers me about these, though, isn't that they're not literal, but that I'm not sure they're as simple as they appear. Clever, certainly, but I wonder what a normal person would make of them - Benny would have been wonderful here.
Next I've got something labeled "Coca-Cola football virals". I think they're a bit long to be virals, but that doesn't really matter, I like them. A lot. I think they might even be a better programming idea, but regardless, having small clubs' chairmen do the things they do in order to get the prize money offered by Coca-Cola (1) is genuinely funny. I had to ask Flintham if the Lincoln City bloke really was who he said he was, and he confirmed not only that he was, but also that it was filmed in the posh bit of his own hometown. Then he giggled. Great stuff.
Meateor! That's the name of the flying Domino's (3) pizza that apparently stops annoying Wag-a-likes dead in their tracks when it's delivered. Erm, you kind of wish it could've landed on the set, to be honest.
Moving along, we have the latest from Levi's (4). I believe it's called "dangerous liaisons".
We watch a couple continue to ravish one another, in a series of clever transitions, from way back when, to the modern day. Along the way, they hastily rip through each decade's jeans and hairstyles. Actually the people change, as the jeans do, if you haven't seen it, but you get the idea. This really feels like Levi's behaving special again. It's simple, beautifully directed, and in a time where more and more ads are trying not to look like ads, this one is an ad at its best. Feels like an instant bit of fame. Really. Lovely.
By the way, has anyone seen that bizarre ad on telly where a Chinese kid is sitting on the toilet and calls his white mum in to change the air freshener? Very weird.
Anyhow, next is the new BMW (5) spot. Here we see a visual symphony of coloured light twist and bend around a car and space, to a classical piece of music. The spot ends with the line: "See how it feels." It's unique as a visual concept and, to be honest, more interesting than my description. I do like it, and it's certainly far better than most car advertising, but it's just short of great to me. In my opinion, some of the shots, especially the interior one, start to make it feel a bit car catalogue, and even though the music works, it might've been interesting to twist it a bit. Still, it's well done.
And last, one I assume must've sailed through link testing. It's called Gotta Dance, for Cheestrings (6). I really wonder why so many ads for kids really are this formulaic. Guess someone might say that it's really targeting the acronym for mums who have the snack purchase power, or whatever they call it, but yikes. Kids are more interesting than this.
That's it then, no Benny, no funny, but my opinion nevertheless.
PLANNER - John Shaw, group planning director, Ogilvy Group UK
I've been abroad for a few years, so it's interesting to see what's changed and what hasn't in British advertising.
Reassuringly, Harvey Nichols (2) still believes that fashion really, really matters. This is evident in its view that a person's destiny is primarily determined by shoe choice, a contemptibly superficial perspective that is clearly absolutely spot-on. This mildly inconvenient truth is delivered with enough wit and intrigue to be quite charming.
The Levi's (4) spot, too, is in the brand's finest tradition - beautiful, gripping, steamy and all in the best possible taste. It stirs my long-dormant 501s fever. But I have a sneaking worry that many people who love this authentic and powerful advertising will go and buy something a bit funkier after the movie.
BMW (5) is also true to its heritage - posh, cold, stylish, haughty. This is fashion advertising for cars, light on idea, heavy on stylish display of product. I admire this single-minded glorification of the metal, but feel strangely uninvolved. I have a nasty feeling it's the combination of Beethoven and the sense of having inadver-tently entered the feared "Visualizer" mode on iTunes. But that's probably just me.
In the pizza world, the traditional "cheese-pull", with its glistening strings of cheese, has clearly been left behind in the name of communication progress. It's been replaced by a sort of asteroid/pizza hybrid, which fits the story well but does not have me reaching for the phone. I expect young guys would like the destruction of the (I'm told) lower B-list celeb, but I'm not sure about the quality cues the whole experience provides for Domino's (3) to the wider audience. They might not see it, of course.
You can't keep good cheese strings down though, and they sneakily reappear in a commercial for, descriptively enough, Cheestrings (6) where a cheeky young chappie performs various japes to a Gene Kelly song, culminating in some Cheestrings- as-moustache tomfoolery. I can imagine mums liking it, but it seems a little too squeaky clean for the average youngster. I'm told Cheestrings are excellent for hangovers, though.
Finally and pleasurably, some Coca-Cola (1) virals for the "buy a player" promotion running for Championship teams. In the past, and again recently, Coke has produced big, powerful, global work that is quite unmissable. But in the past, it was less likely to be complemented by material such as this, which connects deeply with a smaller number of people, but in a highly relevant way. These are compulsive: who doesn't want to see club chairmen put themselves through pain and humiliation? I didn't want to like these the best, because there's a lot of viral out there that just isn't engaging enough to touch a lot of people. But this is one of those cases where everything lines up: it's a superb idea with huge commercial potential and it's beautifully executed, down to the Yeovil chairman's assistants speculating about how pissed off he is going to be at being shot at while in a set of stocks. I hope it takes off.
So some things haven't changed while I've been away and some have. Overall, I'd say there is a surprising degree of continuity. Maybe, it won't be too long before creative and media gets together again and it'll be the 80s, but pixellated. Can't wait.
Project: Buy a player
Clients: Simon Freedman, brand experience manager; James Williams,
senior brand experience manager, Coca-Cola
Brief: Promote Coca-Cola's "buy a player" promotion
Art director: Mother
Director: Theo Delaney
Production company: Hotspur and Argyle
Exposure: Internet, Soccer AM
2. HARVEY NICHOLS
Project: It's a wonderful life
Client: Julia Bowe, marketing director, Harvey Nichols
Brief: Position Harvey Nichols as the ultimate fashion store
Agency: DDB London
Writer: Joanna Wenley
Art director: Grant Parker
Photographers: Chris Craymer, Wayne Parker, Beate Sonnenberg
Exposure: Fashion monthlies and supplements
3. DOMINO'S PIZZA
Client: Robin Auld, sales and marketing director, Domino's Pizza
Brief: Dramatise the launch of the Meateor and build on the awareness of
Domino's advertising characters, John and Bernard
Agency: Team Saatchi
Writer: John Williams
Art director: Gary Howe
Director: Bill Scarlet
Production company: Vermilion Films
Exposure: Terrestrial TV, Sky
Project: Dangerous liaisons
Client: Colin Clarke, European communications director, Levi's
Brief: Re-express the credentials of Levi's as the original jean, while
showcasing new seasonal products
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers: Dean Wei, Steve Wakelam
Art directors: Dean Wei, Steve Wakelam
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production company: Rattling Stick
Exposure: National TV
Project: See how it feels
Client: Suzanne Gray, advertising manager, BMW UK
Brief: Widen the appeal of the BMW brand
Writer: Billy Faithfull
Art director: Ross Neil
Directors: Nick Thornton-Jones, Warren Du Preez
Production company: Wanted Films
Exposure: National TV, cinema, press, online
Project: Gotta Dance
Client: Liz Park, senior brands manager, Cheestrings, Kerry Foods
Brief: Position Cheestrings as a healthy snack for kids
Agency: Quiet Storm
Writers/art directors: Trevor Robinson, Becky Hamilton, Neal Coyler
Director: Trevor Robinson
Production company: Quiet Storm Films
Exposure: National TV, cinema, online