Okay, I'll admit it: I'm an advertising optimist. I realise this may not be a highly fashionable position. But I yearn for great work to cheer me up and spur me on. Remember that oath we all took to inform and entertain? So let's see if I can maintain my positive disposition for the duration of this column.
My face cracked a smile quicker than Lewsey scored against France when I clocked "battle" for The Mail on Sunday (3). This film beautifully quotes Ridley Scott's Gladiator as it describes a gargantuan battle of the sexes. The narrative goes on to explain how the warring factions are pacified by the reveal of not one but two magazines in their Sunday paper. (Boy, if it were that simple!) Clever observations and attention to detail give this spot genuine engagement and stature. It's a big old number all right. And I bet a few reached for the gin in the bottom draw when this script came through. But a convincing victory for all concerned. Not least for the punter. There you go: positive feedback. Way to go!
Ooh, hello - is that an Adidas (1) ad hiding in the envelope? Mmm, it's a nice one too. I've turned a rather unattractive shade of green. Not much you can say about a great press ad that it doesn't already say itself. I could however bang on about professional jealousy ...
Now, Brian (Fraser, joint executive creative director at McCann Erickson) and I were always big fans of the old British Airways "face" ad. I'll concede that people embracing against the backdrop of the Union flag was schmaltzy. On balance, though, the spot never received the recognition it deserved. So, I was not unpleased to see the Silverjet (6) homage arrive from Campaign. It's been faithfully reshot by Hugh Hudson (how on earth could you ask anyone else?). So be prepared for your jaw to drop unceremoniously to the ground. It's simply beautiful. The notion of a less congested flight certainly works for me, too. I just hope that the current business-class audience remembers the original. Because my fear is if you don't share my rather nostalgic view, this reincarnation might not be as relevant or compelling as we would all like to think. I do hope I'm wrong.
More old favourites rear their heads in the Fox's Glacier Mints (5) idents. The old fox and polar bear are back, and to good effect. The fox blindly licking the bear's arse is the funniest. But that might just be me. However, once again I'm worrying about how compelling this couple are for the new, uninitiated audience. Aw, let's just enjoy it.
There's a cute little handbook doing the rounds extolling the virtues of karma driving (geddit?), courtesy of smart (4) car. The "Glovebox Guru" offers a guide to an altogether more relaxing driving experience. It's a fair enough claim given the attributes of this cute congestion and pollution buster. I could suggest that raising the Congestion Charge to £25 a day will prove to be more persuasive argument, but that would be a cynical assessment. Mind you, smart car dealers everywhere must be buffing their framed photographs of Chairman Ken as we speak.
Finally, a digital site for Lacoste (2). Hmm. I can't pretend to like this. I found the navigation predictable, and somewhat repetitive. The content wasn't worth the wait either. Strangely, it had me craving a simple 30-second spot, with a good joke at the end. Now, that can't be right. But this particular "digital experience" does raise an interesting point. All this talk of platform-neutrality and untraditional media channelling is absolutely right, and to be highly encouraged. But only if you have a compelling idea. "Digital" isn't an end in itself, you know.
Aw, now look what's gone and happened to my chirpy demeanour. I sound almost angry. Mealy-mouthed even. Hey, maybe I should start one of those blogs?
MEDIA - David Pullan, president, service solutions, Aegis
Let us start with Adidas (1). The perils of sports sponsorship and marketing were laid bare in the past couple of weeks, when the predicted "bonanza" fell flat as our brave boys imploded in a traditional English way, across the board.
This ad is beautifully art directed and speaks directly to the fan and the World Cup newcomer alike, with the intelligence one would expect as a rugby supporter. But perhaps the Adidas brand platform is too distant for the English fan, used to seeing all our horses falling at the last - Impossible actually is Impossible, and the last Rugby World Cup was an amazing fluke. Emotionally, it feels a bit disconnected from the heart of the English sports fan, for whom, perhaps, a better brand tagline would be "hope springs eternal".
The Lacoste (2) digital work is a cute idea targeted at a younger male market that wants advice in grooming, fashion and manners, delivered online where they can look for help confidentially. The animated opening raised my expectations, but they were cruelly let down by the flat, web 0.0 execution. No video, no audio, no opportunity for user interaction, no two-way conversation, no community element - just a thin, postage-stamp-size set of text "pages" to turn, with a few words on each. Open goal missed (and you, Mr Gerrard).
The Mail on Sunday (3) ad is a blinder, but feels like a great ad for a different brand. Lots of cliches on show, but both parties are equally slandered and it is all in fun. The art direction, the pace, the editing, the sheer scale of the work all create a piece of high-impact communication. Will aspirational twentysomethings rush to the newsstand to buy the product because of it? They might, to sample the magazines, but I can't help but feel that the newspaper itself will be a let-down after this.
The sponsorship idents for Fox's Glacier Mints (5) are quaint, but not in a good way. The humour feels an uncomfortable mix of modern (carbon footprint jokes) and ancient (slapstick), and the tone is very inconsistent. "Family humour" is a difficult brief in today's fragmented market, but this fails to deliver for parents or children.
I used to commute in a smart (4) car, so I was looking forward to the DM piece. The "Glovebox Guru" is well executed, and extends the campaign idea already seen in print and outdoor. The mailer contains a lot of product information, nicely presented, and the format encourages browsing. The call to action is well integrated and simple. Personally, I am not a big fan of the cod-spiritual "self- help" creative platform, because I don't think smart drivers choose the car because they are hippies - it is a very modern product.
So, at last, we come to Silverjet (6). What a gorgeous piece of film and what a great example of using a big creative idea to achieve cut-through, showing that it can still work brilliantly. The restaging of the iconic British Airways "face" ad (with a twist) is genius, because Silverjet will, I think, steal most business initially from Virgin Atlantic, and those customers will know this ad (you don't see many bankers on Virgin). Even if you don't hear the echo, the ad communicates the key product benefits clearly, and quickly establishes an upmarket position for the brand.
Project: Jonny's prayer
Client: Mark Philips, head of communications, Adidas
Brief: Celebrate the contribution that Jonny Wilkinson made to England's
place in the Rugby World Cup final
Writers/art directors: Danny Brooke-Taylor, Michael Burke
Exposure: National press, poster
Project: Live life with Elegance
Client: Procter & Gamble
Writer: Jeremy Garner
Art director: Ben Long
Designer: Andrew Harlow
Exposure: Scandinavia, UK, US, Germany, France, Italy
3. THE MAIL ON SUNDAY - YOU AND LIVE MAGAZINES
Client: Stephen Miron, managing director, The Mail on Sunday
Brief: Attract a new, younger audience to the MoS via its magazines Live
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers/art directors: Matt Waller, Dave Monk
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: TV, cinema, internet
Project: Glovebox Guru
Clients: Richard Payne, marketing communications manager; Alexandra
Lowry, marketing communications, smart
Brief: Launch the new, iconic, smart fortwo
Agency: Claydon Heeley (for Zulu)
Writer: Johnny Watters
Art directors: Maxine Gregson, Peter Harle, Deon Sensky
Designer/photographer: Andrew Carlisle
Exposure: 120,000 mailer
5. FOX'S GLACIER MINTS
Project: Fox's sponsorship of "family comedy" on UKTV Gold and UKTV
Client: Fox's Confectionery
Brief: Make the brand once again a vivid presence in consumers' lives,
and encourage greater frequency of purchase
Agency: Hooper Galton
Writer: Rob Turner
Art director: Dave Westland
Exposure: UKTV Gold and UKTV Drama from 15 October for six months
Client: Katherine Gershon, sales and marketing director, Silverjet
Brief: Communicate the proposition "civilised"
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Matt Beaumont
Art director: Alan Jarvie
Director: Hugh Hudson
Production company: RSA
Exposure: National TV