Digital, digital, digital. If I say it enough times, digital, that is, hopefully it'll cast a contemporary sheen over the rest of this piece. But in the hurry to find the "How To Do Digital" (there goes another one) handbook, are we in danger of forgetting the first rule of any piece of communication? There has to be a new and motivating idea.
I say this because the KFC (5) game is all about keeping hunger pangs at bay. You have to pick your ingredients, from beans, chips, soft drinks, etc, and shoot monsters/pangs down before they get to your tummy. That's certainly not new thinking, whatever the medium. If you had to do a 30-second spot with a brief of "Keeps hunger pangs at bay", you'd sigh. Why should the rules be eased for digital? Where's the big, new, sparky idea? Where's the beef? Where's the "Subservient Chicken"?
In the spot from Coca-Cola (6), a guy puts a coin in a vending machine. We then see the Happiness Factory inside the machine, a wondrous animated place of magic, where the drink is made by thousands of colourful characters. As an idea, it's good. As an execution, it's much better (and don't give me any of that stuff about "you can't separate the two". I just did, it was easy). It's a Disneyesque spectacle with only slightly less charm. Like it.
On first viewing, the Heinz (4) spot looked like a load of children furtively dealing drugs on street corners, so I had a "Children, don't do beans" joke worked out for the end of this paragraph. On closer inspection, I realised it was little notes being handed around, secret recipes that kids were discreetly slipping into each other's mitts. Nice and watchable. Oh sod it ... "Children, don't do beans."
In the Nike (3) spot, we have Wayne Rooney (the vastly wealthy, hot-tempered, ferret-faced Rooney who doesn't work at VCCP) and three other footballers strutting their stuff. A title tells us they are about to have their lives changed as three "starngers" (their spelling, not mine) arrive to ... to ... well, I don't know. It's a trailer, so it just hinted. I went to the website. If I'm judging that, then it's a great website. And the film of the Dirty Sanchez team being used for target practice is hilarious. If I'm judging the trailer, it's fun, but doesn't really do the website justice. Actually, if I could go back to that spelling mistake: is there something subliminal going on here that only the kids will understand? Or is it just a big, old error?
The next two spots are heartbreaking, but in the wrong sense of the word. How trivial does all of the above seem compared with Down's Syndrome and gun crime.
And yet, how badly have these two been handled? The Choice FM (1) ad shows pictures of things such as eggs and watermelons exploding as bullets fly in from stage left. Finally, a young boy's head appears and the line "Stop the bullets, kill the gun" comes on like a bullet and stops before it hits him. You have to salute everyone involved for wanting to do some good, but this film should have been gripping enough to have people e-mailing it around.
The Down's Syndrome Association (2) commercial says little more than: 'To find out more about Down's Syndrome, please visit our website." I'm aware there's a need to handle things a little delicately, but you still have to be intrusive in some way if you want a reaction. And that's the problem with nice, gentle, well-mannered stuff. It's too nice and gentle and well-mannered to "butt in". Hate to be so negative about this, but, despite the nice animation, it may not get noticed.
Bye now. Don't be a "starnger".
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Nicola Doring, executive producer and chief executive, HSI Films
As a production company head, I am keen not to offend agencies and my peers, but to facilitate, encourage and radiate positivity in order to ensure a never-ending flow of scripts. However, this task proved more difficult than I had originally thought, especially when taking other people's feelings into consideration. So I have thrown caution to the wind and attempted to be as constructive as possible. Apologies if I offend anyone ...
First out of the bag is Heinz (4). Both casting and performances are great, the ad is beautifully and seamlessly shot, and is a wonderful nod to nostalgia lane. One of the first non-patronising ads aimed at mums that I've seen for a long time, I almost buy into the product. Good script and execution. It's such a shame that McCann had to resign it. However, the music gets on my nerves a bit. It sort of reminds me of a generic soundtrack used in a C-list horror to denote a nasty ghoul in the nursery.
What an epic the Coca-Cola (6) spot is. Studio Ghibli eat your heart out. The ad uses stunning and involving animation, and has a great central premise, which clearly got all the attention and the budget, especially since the live-action bookends of the insipid couple (who look like they were cast straight from 8 Simple Rules) let this ad down. But I would really like to know what more this does for the brand when the first spot in the campaign was so groundbreaking and amazing?
I was really impressed by the Choice FM (1) ad against gun crime. Simple, engaging, to the point and powerful. This is a clear example that illustrates how a strong idea needs no extra production frills to bring home a poignant message. It was good to see an ad that evoked the beautiful simplicity of the glory days of Collett Dickenson Pearce and Boase Massimi Pollitt.
Now, we all know how difficult it is to shoot these phenomenally loaded football players, who think that by giving us half-an-hour of their time, we can create an award-winning global spot. Despite these "givens", I still have much higher expectations for Nike (3), especially given its marketing heritage.
I understand integration and the importance of capturing consumers through more targeted media than commercials, but KFC's (5) game just made me want to put on a cardigan and turn the dial to Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time. Hands up, I'm outside the demographic. So I passed it to my son, he lasted ten minutes, the music got on his nerves. I'm sure it would work for the demographic, but I'm just not part of that gang. Incidentally, the list of competitors made me laugh. I didn't realise Leo Tolstoy, A Einstein and L da Vinci were partial to a KFC meal or a bit of gaming. Amazing.
Unusual the next one from the Down's Syndrome Association (2). I don't believe I've ever seen an actual ad to raise awareness of Down's Syndrome among children before. Well, I presume it is targeted at children because the speech smacks of tokenism and a vapid understanding of what Down's Syndrome is, and what it takes to break down prejudice. "I want an extra chromosome," our green-eyed lead character chirpily says. However, the message is perhaps a little too sophisticated for children to grasp, hence I am not quite sure I get it. Nice animation, but I am curious to know where it will be shown or how it will be received.
Right, the task is done ... Hmm, on reflection, when I look at the body of work on offer, I am perturbed about the amount of money and effort that would have gone into producing these. And for me, the reality is that the best spot, Choice FM's gun crime ad, is not only the simplest but also probably the cheapest. I know I should not be encouraging this type of behaviour for the sake of my children's school fees, but I feel the need to be honest.
1. CHOICE FM
Project: Peace on the streets
Clients: Ivor Etienne, managing director; Amba Callender, head of
marketing, Choice FM
Brief: Raise awareness of the dangers of gun crime in London
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Gary Walker
Art director: Huw Williams
Directors: Malcolm Venville, Sean De Sparengo
Production company: Therapy Films
Exposure: National cinema, London TV
2. DOWN'S SYNDROME ASSOCIATION
Project: Josh and Friends
Client: Jessica Ffield, communications officer, Down's Syndrome
Brief: Raise awareness of the Down's Syndrome Association
Art director: Jelly
Director: Angry Natives
Production company: Jelly
Exposure: Nickelodeon, online
Project: The "Put It Where You Want It" tour
Clients: Adam Collins, Paolo Tubito, brand communications, Nike
Brief: Launch the T90 Laser football boot and reinforce the accuracy
Writers/art directors: Paul Shearer, Dave Jennings
Director: Paul Shearer
Production company: Great Guns
Exposure: International TV
Project: Mum's own recipe
Client: Louise Radcliffe, marketing director for infant feeding, HJ
Brief: "Mum's own recipe" is inspired by mums, but cooked by Heinz
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Cameron Mitchell
Art director: Elliott Harris
Director: Lenny Dorfman
Production company: MJZ
Exposure: National TV
Project: Hunger strike
Clients: Janelle Tilling, vice-president marketing; Lidija Davidson,
brand director, KFC
Brief: Big Daddy Box Meal is the ultimate way to keep hunger at bay
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Project: Happiness Factory - The Movie
Client: Nick Felder, group director for film and music production,
Brief: Explore the magic of the Happiness Factory world
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Writers: Al Moseley, Rick Condors
Art directors: John Norman, Hunter Hindman
Directors: Todd Mueller, Kylie Matulick
Production company: Psyop Animation
Exposure: Worldwide TV