The large envelope from Campaign arrives on my desk. I place my hands together and pray to the Big Fellow in the sky that there are some gems inside. Just imagine if all six ads were great. Hmm ... there's probably more chance of me picking the six winning numbers in this Saturday's lottery.
(Why is it so hard to have six great ads, when you think about all the talented people we have working in our industry? Only the Big Fellow knows the answer to that one.)
Anyway, hoping for a miracle, I open the envelope ...
First up is Ben & Jerry's (3). A clever little film that manages to tell the history of Ben & Jerry's from its small beginnings to the present day, all in 30 seconds. It's well-observed and well-written. I love the tone of voice too; it sums up everything I know and like about the brand. You get the feeling they had a lot of fun making it. Not a great ad, but a good one.
Next is a print campaign for Tango (6). It seems that Apple, Orange and Cherry Tango have all been in rehab. A troubled family, it would appear. Apple went to The Friary, Orange to The Beryl Ford Clinic and Cherry to the Willows Centre, Arizona. All to recover from their lifelong addiction to artificial colours and flavours. Each ad is a certificate from their chosen clinics that states they have all completed their rehabilitation and are free from their chemical addictions. They made me laugh and they deliver the product point in an original way. Again good, but not great.
Moving on, I pick a Philips (1) 60-second spot out of the envelope. It was at this point that I realised that the Big Fellow must be away on his summer holidays, because my prayers certainly haven't been answered. I hate to have to say it, but this ad is terrible. A female robot has some kind of sexual encounter with a young bloke in a shower. She shaves him with the new Philips shaver that moisturises at the same time. Er ... I think? I hate to be so negative, but I feel duty bound to warn you of the wave of depression that will wash over you if you watch this one.
A TV spot for Strathmore (5) spring water is next up. We see six teenagers dancing with their spring water in a dark warehouse to a kind of techno bagpipe track. As they dance around they create patterns in the air with the water. I thought the endline might make sense of it all. It didn't. Maybe if you'd been dropping Es and dancing in a warehouse all night it would. But I doubt it.
Quickly moving on, we have a 60-second spot for Defra (2). Set to the obligatory folk track, "carbon footprint" shows people of various ages walking around leaving their dirty carbon footprints behind them. The voiceover directs you to a website where you can find out what your footprint is, and how you can reduce it. Not great, but okay. At least you won't have to take anti-depressants after watching it.
Last up is Edge (4). It's a government-backed scheme aimed at parents to promote vocational, as opposed to academic, courses for teenagers. The spot shows a father encouraging his terrified son to drive recklessly around town. We see him crash into a bus and drive the wrong way down a one-way street. It did make me laugh and it's well-shot. This film will have good standout. But I just wonder if the father encouraging his son to drive recklessly is a bit of a tenuous metaphor?
So that's it, the Big Fellow did let me down with some of the six ads this week. Anyway, I'm off to buy a lottery ticket. The odds are better.
CREATIVE - John Townshend, creative partner, Rapier
Once upon a time, there was a famous, and clearly quite irritable, old US adman, who said: "What do you want to see? Pretty pictures? Or the goddam sales curve going up?" I'm with the old codger - in a world of tipping points, brand wheels, permission marketing and all that, it's quite easy to forget we're in the business of spending someone else's money responsibly. So, if it was my money, how would I feel about this week's work?
Philips (1). This ad is for Philips' "moisturising shaving system", which I think is a gel. In it, a geisha robot girl helps a male model shave in a Blade Runner bathroom. The endline is "robot skin", which I think is meant to be a good thing. Although the last time I snuggled up with a robot, I found it rather cold and un-cosy. It's not even well branded. The only thing of note is the shower, because the water squirts up from the floor, which makes you think. A lot of money on CGI, not enough on selling.
The Edge (4) ad is about a father leading his son astray while teaching him to drive. The hapless driver is told to cut up traffic, drive too fast, go up one-way streets and so on. It's well-shot, well-cast and interesting. "What's this for?" I wondered. Then a title appears - "Are you giving your kids the wrong direction?" - and then goes on to say that maybe your kids need a vocational training, not an academic one.
I thought it was very roundabout way to make a point. And I suspect it will suffer from poor "brand attribution", as the planner would say.
Defra (2). This ad does a nice job of dramatising the idea of carbon footprints, but we kind of know about them. It really wants to make me visit the website to see what I can do about reducing my footprint, but I found it about as motivating as Sven-Goran Eriksson, so I am assuming they are doing the changing-behaviour bit in other media. If it was my money, I'd want a bit more of that in my TV ad. Hang on a second; it is my money.
Tango (6). The idea of these press inserts is that Tango has gone to rehab to clean up its act. It's dropped its Es, and gone nuclear orange free. The work takes the form of certificates from various comedy clinics such as The Friary - geddit?
I suppose a naughty corner of me is a little disappointed that Tango, marketing's wild child, has gone, well, clean. It's a bit like if Pete Doherty started to present Songs of Praise. Still, it's a good use of media and a clear message, so I'd be OK to part with my cash for this.
Strathmore (5). It's clearly not easy to advertise a water brand. What do you say? "It's wet, and it doesn't taste of anything." Strathmore's agency has chosen to use its Scottish provenance. Here we have an enthusiastic girl dancer sprinkling water about, to music that might be described as Rave Bagpipe. The water travels out of the bottle in an unappealingly gloopy dribble, mimicking a ribbon dance I believe. Michael Flatley has a lot to answer for. Doubt I'd remember the brand, and it's very light on appetite appeal.
Ben & Jerry's (3). This is a 30-second history of Ben and Jerry's company, done in a rapid-fire, realistic-style slide-show, with a homespun US voiceover that sounds like Garrison Keillor. The kind of voice that wears dungarees and knows how to build a canoe.
I like companies that treat us intelligently like this. Now, this would be described as a "brand ad", as it is all about the company, not the product. However, it effectively reasserts the brand's heritage, and reminds me that Ben & Jerry's is no mass-produced muck, it's the real deal. Unlike Strathmore, it's actually really high on appetite appeal and uses its provenance to create that. This is the ad I'd be most happy to invest in this week.
Project: Moisturising shaving system
Client: Gary Raucher, head of marketing communications, Philips
Brief: Encourage guys to discover Philips' moisturising shaving system
Agency: DDB London
Writer: Dave Newbold
Art director: Mark Thompson
Director: Bruno Aveillan
Production company: Short Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Defra - Act on CO2
Client: David Watson, head of marketing, Defra
Brief: Link people's personal CO2 emissions and climate change
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writers/art directors: Paul Jordan, Angus Macadam
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: National TV
3. BEN & JERRY'S
Project: Ben & Jerry's heritage
Client: Antonia Kaul, EU marketing manager, Ben & Jerry's
Brief: Celebrate the brand's rich history of ice-cream
Agency: Fallon London
Writers/art directors: Dan Watts, Rory McCaskill
Director: Lenny Dorfman
Production company: BBOX
Client: Vanessa Miner, marketing and communications director, Edge
Brief: Challenge parental prejudices on the choices children make
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Richard Stoney
Art director: Dave Hobbs
Director: Fredrik Bond
Production company: Sonny London
Exposure: National TV, print, online
Project: Launch campaign
Client: Adrian Troy, head of marketing, AG Barr
Brief: Strathmore will invigorate your mind and body
Agency: The Leith Agency
Writer: Mark Davies
Art director: Michael Kinlan
Director: Martin Wedderburn
Production company: MTP
Exposure: National TV
Project: Tango's been in rehab
Client: Sally Symes, senior brand manager, Britvic Soft Drinks
Brief: Communicate that Tango is now free from artificial colours and
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writer: Ed Edwards
Art director: Dave Masterman
Exposure: National weekly and monthly magazines