Familiarity. Now, I'm as big a sucker for its scratchy-blanket embrace as the next bitch (as I write this, my hair is exactly the same as it is in the four-year-old picture you see before you), but there's such cold comfort in familiarity, such piss-weak solace to be found in its muttered, sour-breathed defiance of risk. It's a depressing, shitehawk word, is "familiarity". Right up there in the top five, just behind "blog", "Bom Chicka Wah Wah", "awardwinningcharityad" and "Mowbli".
The new ad for the George at Asda (3) range of children's clothes comes huffing of stale familiarity, like an old Gap ad and a more recent Clarks spot have had a playground scuffle, while all the other ads stood around shouting "Scrap! Scrap! Scrap!" in reedy, blood-lusty voices. But I guess I can understand how and why this was made. It is pleasantly shot and happy-dancey-stage-schooly enough and, along with the brand name helpfully dropping the cheery "At Asda!" bit, may go some way toward the label losing its common usage as the bullies' considered choice of fashion insult.
The BBC (2) ad for Any Dream Will Do is pretty much exactly the same as the one on the other side for Grease Is The Word, ie, a group of civilian folk desperate for fame "hilariously" burst into a popular song from a popular musical at the drop of a small furry hat. The only difference I can personally fathom is that this BBC version is marginally less embarrassing than the ITV spot, which makes my arsehole crawl up my back in shame. It's a familiar ad for a familiar programme format, and all the worse for it.
That same-old-same-old razzle-dazzle of shiny advertising award things infects this mundane charity ad for Anti-Slavery International (1), which means that the website address is treated as if it were rather embarrassing fly-shit, and that I am left without the slightest clue of what I'm supposed to do with the fact that, exactly 200 years since the supposed abolition of slavery, it still goes on. At the risk of sounding like that mentalist car ad, I want to know where, why, how, to whom, and what am I supposed to do about it exactly.
The new ad for the RSPCA (5) actually dares to try something different, a sort of clumsily animated anthropomorphism that feels very unfamiliar indeed. Controversially, it eschews the tried-and- tested route of featuring a sack-stifled puppy with the supernatural ability to speak in Neil Morrissey's voice. I'm not sure if I like the ad, or if it's right, or if it's half as wittily written as it thinks it is, but I applaud, until my palms chafe, the group of people responsible. I'd still like one of those Neil Morrissey-voiced mongrels, mind; we could cuddle on the sofa and watch Dr Who together, chat afterwards and I'd teach it how to smoke and that.
The new 2007 Land Rover Defender (4) has a very heavy door-drop to announce its arrival. It is addressed to a Mr Sample, which is a terribly unfortunate name to be lumbered with, and no amount of Land Rover could possibly make up for it.
I used to love the 118 118 (6) ads. True, not as much as I love Silk Cut 100s and monkeys, but their startling originality and daft bravery held a special place in my heart for a long time, right up until last year's witty Lost idents. I personally believe that they were quite disgracefully robbed of all their deserved pretty awards, ignored by raisin-hearted juries so in thrall to the familiar that they wouldn't appreciate a properly fresh and culturally resonant campaign if it bit them on their collective perineum. Well, I hope they are happy now. For whatever wretched reasons, the 118 118 campaign has gone quietly into the night, twisting in the slipstream of redundant spoof and tired writing. What a shame.
PUB LANDLORD - Ken Maguire, pub landlord, Latymers, W6
First up, George (3) children's clothing by Asda. I have already seen this ad on TV before it was given to me for my Private View. It had already caught my attention with the music, the children are dancing all over the screen to Lil Chris' Checking It Out who graduated from Rock School on Channel 4. The music brings out the youthfulness of the outfits. I am not a parent, so can't comment too much on whether this ad makes me want to run to Asda to buy that cool £3 T-shirt; maybe ask me in a few years, or ask the wife.
Next is the new RSPCA (5) ad. Where do I start? Dogs strolling around in dressing gowns, one of the opening sentences being: "I'm joking, it absolutely stinks, and it smells like a toilet!" Well, it does get across the message and I did watch it the whole way through. It kept my attention because it was bizarre. It didn't pull at any heart-strings though. At the end of the ad, the number you can call for more information is briefly flashed, hardly enough time to grab a pen and paper if you were half-interested. However, I wasn't - one member of the group watching this ad with me made the comment: "Creepy."
The Anti-Slavery International (1) ad I definitely rate as my favourite. The topic is handled tastefully. This is a sensitive topic for many people. I think the artist who designed this poster made a clear statement without using any distasteful or infuriating graphics considering what trafficking covers, for example, prostitution, sexual exploitation and child exploitation. The drawing is clear and it effectively communicates the issue of trafficking being the new modern slavery, a subject we all wish never existed anymore but it does in a new form. It drew my attention and made me want to find out more on the issue.
I love these guys. 118 118 (6) ads are distinguished for having two men with droopy moustaches, commonly referred to as the 118 118 twins. This ad does get across the fact that 118 118 is expanding its services beyond directory enquiries. The 118 twins are training with oversized books. It is a tacky and ridiculous ad and it is a bit of fun, and that is what people keep in mind. It has a catchy soundtrack too.
"I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain, to see for certain what I thought I knew. Far far away, someone was weeping, but the world was sleeping. Any dream will do." Well, you can keep dreaming if you think I am going to watch this programme because I am just not. This year, the BBC (2) is launching another talent search to find a male lead for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I suppose this is going to be like most reality talent searches where the auditions will be amusing, watching thousands of hopefuls, but I am sure not everybody has what it takes to get to the next stage and it will be entertaining to watch. As far as this ad goes, it makes me smile, but really doesn't provoke much else in me as I am just not interested in these types of shows, and the ad doesn't inspire me to become a new fan.
Finally, a campaign close to my heart, the new Land Rover Defender (4) ... vroom, vroom ... I am currently looking into buying a new four- wheel dream and luckily have not been put off by the ridiculous £25 congestion charge! So it was great to actually read an ad I can associate with, seeing as I don't have dogs, children or want to become the new Joseph. I love the way it is packaged and the photos are exciting and masculine. At the moment, I think a 4x4 is just associated with the school-run mums.
1. ANTI-SLAVERY INTERNATIONAL
Project: Modern slavery
Client: Raj Dasani, fundraising officer, Anti-Slavery International
Brief: Raise awareness of the evil and scale of human trafficking - a
form of "modern slavery"
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writer: Howard Green
Art director: Pablo Videla
Retouching company: First Base
Exposure: Outdoor, national press
Brief: Promote the BBC's talent contest Any Dream Will Do
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Art directors: Pip Bishop, Chris Hodgkiss
Director: Luis Gerard
Production company: Great Guns
Exposure: BBC TV
Client: Natalie McMahon, marketing manager, Asda
Brief: Launch the "Must haves for kids" Spring range and capitalise on
the success of the adult "Must haves" sub-brand
Writer: Rob Janowski
Art director: Andy Wakefield
Director: Thomas Napper
Production company: HSI London
Exposure: Network and satellite TV, online
4. LAND ROVER
Project: New 2007 Defender launch
Clients: Rob Gray, Defender communications manager, Land Rover global;
Serge Sergiou, CRM and internet manager, Land Rover UK
Brief: Launch the new Defender, highlighting its significant product
Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel
Writer: David Brown
Art director: Jo Jenkins
Exposure: National direct mail
Project: RSPCA responsible pet ownership
Clients: Justine Pannett, campaign project manager; David Bowles, head
of external affairs, RSPCA
Brief: Promote the changes to the Animal Welfare Act
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Bernard Hunter
Art director: Mike Bond
Director: 12 foot 6
Production company: 12 foot 6
Exposure: National TV
6. 118 118
Project: Training to help
Clients: Mark Hogan, chief executive; Mark Evans, marketing director;
Catherine Boyd, marketing manager, The Number
Brief: Demonstrate how 118 118 helps people - with more than just
Writer: David Cornmell
Art director: Jane Briers
Director: Owen Harris
Production company: Hungry Man
Exposure: National TV