We're at the start of a new era. Suddenly, all sorts of possibilities seem, er, possible. On almost every page in Campaign, there are digital agencies, content providers, word-of-mouth companies and mobile marketers, each proclaiming that they are the "one true way", like so many Old Testament prophets. But here in Private View, time stands still. While the rest of the world is getting into social networking, or trying to own the mobile space, we've got three TV commercials, two direct marketing packs and just one website. And not so much as an interactive beer mat in sight.
Sony (1) has fired the first salvo in the high-definition war with a commercial for its Blu-ray format. It looks astonishing - film, music and video game images shot against a black background and draped in blue rays. Achingly beautiful, but "entertainment like no other" isn't a thought that really goes anywhere; and it feels like a bit of an overclaim. Even if you watched it on your mobile, having downloaded it from YouTube, style still triumphs over content.
Saab (5) has created a DM piece for its bioethanol-powered car using a rubber band-powered butterfly. It's all quite engaging, and the butterfly makes you jump, but there's too much going on in this envelope. The letter tells you how flex-fuelled cars burn less petrol, but give you more power, the brochure talks about releasing the power of nature, and the application form talks about chaos theory. Indeed. There's probably an agency on the second page just longing to bring biofuels to life through a face-to-face brand experience.
The Motorola (4) ad shows one man and his horse riding through an ever-changing cinematic landscape. It's cleverly put together, entertaining to watch, and tells you Motorola screens are good enough to watch movies on. An interesting story. It's great, even if you can't click on it and find out what's showing at your local fleapit, or apply online for Robert McGee's next screenwriting course.
In Bacardi's (6) new ad, a liquid CGI girl gets entwined with a liquid CGI man: "Bacardi. Made to mix." It might offer a whole new meaning to exchanging bodily fluids, but it still looks too much like Lucozade in both senses. And not even a word-of-mouth agency from page four, with a clever social networking idea, could get around that.
So, to that website we mentioned, www.anyoneforpimms.com, which is for Pimm's (2). It's a charming extension of the TV work that features the lovable Alexander Armstrong, and, just like the TV spots, he's out there in the wide world getting it a bit wrong with hilarious consequences. The site features "How to pour Pimm's properly" and details of "Pimm's on tour", and three amusing films suggesting new summer games to play with your chums. But is it really interactive? Are the films just TV ads not quite big enough for TV? Will anyone go out and play the games? Perhaps not. (Not that they'll be able to if they've been pouring the Pimm's properly.)
Finally, a DM pack from Volvo (3). Or is it Marmite? No, it's the Volvo C30. You either love it or hate it, or rather "Do you want to buff it or bash it?" At least it's a rich idea (or looking at the size of the box, a rich client), asking you to express your views online, which makes it the only piece of work here that's genuinely interactive. Who knows, maybe it could even own the mobile space.
Conclusions? First, much of the old world continues in parallel with the new. Second, it doesn't matter what you're creating, ideas are as critical as ever. OK, you knew that. Third, maybe Private View needs to evolve to accommodate this new era? Mobile marketing may be the future, but you can't very well review the art direction of a text message. As that well-known prophet from Duluth, Minnesota, said: "You better start swimming, or you'll sink like a stone, for the times they are a changin'."
MARKETER - Mark Simpson, marketing director, Ford of Europe
I'm staring out of my window contemplating the piece I'm about to write. I'm used to receiving helpful advice on the work we do, I'm not at all used to giving it. I understand the sheer effort, care, love and angst that goes into the creative development process, so I'm anxious to be respectful of the effort while still offering a view. Well, here goes ...
First on the list is a new Motorola (4) spot. From the first second, this delivers intrigue - what is it all about? It finally becomes clear that we are watching the evolution of the moving image. Clever use of soundtrack builds the drama throughout the piece, until we reach the pay-off with the phone. I love this spot. It is a clever idea, it is well crafted, it has drama, and is just plain entertaining. Above all, it has an unexpected outcome. This will keep the viewer engaged, even through multiple exposures.
Next up is Sony (1). The briefest of conversations with my 11-year-old will inform you that I am no gamer, and I suspect that the digital junkies among you are more the target for this piece than I am. It's what you would expect from Sony, although the ad is richly crafted and has high production values. Perfectly paced, and with just the right amount of drama from the music, it still leaves me a bit flat. Don't get me wrong, this is clever work, but it lacks the impact of recent Sony ads. Is it just a little bit too clever, perhaps?
Bacardi (6) has now left the "Latin Quarter" and wants us to mix with this new spot. The premise seems to be that Bacardi is a drink made to mix, and that the viewer can successfully mix with a few Bacardis inside while enjoying the dance mix that underpins the spot. Clever or contrived? I'm going for the latter. The overload of mix references spoils it for me, and I'm far from sure that this spot will have the branding strength of earlier work.
Staying with alcohol, we look at a new microsite for Pimm's (2). The format follows the TV work with Alexander Armstrong, and encourages us to discover three new summer games to enjoy with one's chums. The site is simple to use, the streaming video works in real time, and the idea is right on the brand. Good stuff.
Now we have two pieces of direct marketing work. Principles first: DM is expensive to produce, so it really needs to be well targeted and deliver "openability" to be effective. For Saab (5), the butterfly must make you think that this is a car company talking about the environment - and you'd be right. There is a clever twist. Even though there are real environmental benefits from using biofuel, being Saab, the pack also raises the matter of additional performance from the higher octane rating (this means there is more energy in the fuel by litre than in regular petrol) of biofuel - great. Then it all goes wrong for me. There are three pieces inside the pack - a mini brochure, a letter and a response device. Furthermore, when you open the brochure, you're at risk of being struck in the eye by a cardboard butterfly that is lying in wait to pounce - no thanks.
Finally, we have something very special indeed in the form of the Volvo C30 (3) work. It comes in a large box and contains a polishing cloth to buff and a miniature hammer to destroy the model C30 contained within. The creative follows the "what do you think?", "love it or hate it?" campaign ideas. This piece certainly demands to be opened once you get it thanks to its sheer size. You may not be thrilled, though, when you return from the Post Office (this is way too large to fit through your letterbox) to find that it is not a surprise present, but, in fact, a direct mail piece. This is clever and different. It is, however, hugely expensive, so I really hope Volvo has its targeting razor-sharp if it is to achieve a return from this.
1. SONY BLU-RAY
Client: James Kennedy, general manager, Sony Europe
Brief: Establish Blu-ray as the ultimate high-definition format
Writers/art directors: Lawrence Seftel, Dave Day
Director: Brett Foraker
Production company: RSA Films
Exposure: National TV
Client: Matt Campbell, senior brand manager, Pimm's
Brief: Encourage consumers to adopt Pimm's into their summer repertoire
Agency: Agency Republic
Writer: Abe Baginsky
Art directors: Tobie Cameron, Marga Arron-Biblioni
3. VOLVO C30
Project: Express your free will
Clients: Anita Fox, head of marketing communications, Volvo Cars UK; Lee
Marsh, direct marketing executive, Volvo
Brief: Generate word-of-mouth among opinion formers and trend leaders
about the Volvo C30
Agency: EHS Brann
Writer: Jimmy Thompson
Art director: Tim Waltho
Exposure: Direct mail
Project: Evolution of the moving image
Clients: Neil Stewart, director of marketing, EMEA; Kim Purvis, European
marketing director, Motorola
Brief: Promote Motorola's latest handset
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Mike Sutherland
Art director: Antony Nelson
Director: Nicolai Fuglsig
Production company: MJZ
Exposure: National TV
Client: Louise Mercier, direct marketing manager, Saab GB
Brief: Raise awareness of the launch of Saab's BioPower engines
Writer: Kevin Mills
Art director: Carl Knapper
Designer: Rob David
Exposure: Direct mail to 30,000 customers
Client: Jeff MacDonald, global brand director, Bacardi
Brief: Build a connection with the consumer via a distinctive attitude
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers/art directors: Steve Moss, Jolyon Finch
Production company: Blink
Exposure: National press and posters