So there's this American writer called Eric Weiner who's spent the past year travelling the world in search of the planet's "happy places". Unfortunately, the UK came so far down the table that Eric was forced to conclude: "The Brits don't just enjoy misery, they get off on it." In other words ... we're never happier than when we're grumpy.
So I started my day fully intending to help push Britain back up the Chuckle Chart, by thinking only happy thoughts for the entire week. Then I remembered, I've got to write Private View. Oops.
Well, as you may or may not know, the symptoms of lactose intolerance include severe nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhoea. (Hey Eric, try keeping the smile on your face when you've just written that!) But sufferers can now rejoice. Because, as these ads announce, Lactofree (6) now brings you full taste lactose-free milk. Actually, neither the telly nor the print tell you much else, so hopefully if you're in the market, you'll know all the other stuff. All the executions use a simple visual of milk flowing into cow-like shapes. Which kind of makes all the print ads essentially the same.
No matter what technical wizardry Sky Sports has brought to televised football, they've never quite cracked a theme tune like Match of the Day. It's an institution. It's also nowhere to be heard on the new TV commercial for Match of the Day Magazine (4). Maybe there's some sort of legal argy-bargy with the Beeb or maybe nobody wanted to use it. Either way, they've settled on a low-budget film of a ball boy reading the mag in front of a crowd of agency friends and family and showing off his ball skills. I know it's a cliche, but if you look on YouTube, you'll see thousands of films that are shot for next to nothing (or even nothing) that still don't look this cheap. Maybe I'm sentimental about MOTD, but I believe there's heritage in the brand and I'm not sure that this really does justice to it.
Years ago, there were a lot more topical ads. Almost uniquely British, they were witty, fun, sharp and enjoyed by a public who appreciated the speed of thought and delivery. I'm not certain how they were measured, or if they were at all, but I'm sure they contributed to the success of brands like Hamlet and Heineken. So it's a rare pleasure to see this Lynx (1) ad in a paper, following the earthquake of the night before. Funny, isn't it, in this digital age when we really can have ads in the public domain within minutes, this is an area of advertising which seems to have almost totally dried up. Perhaps they're harder to do by committee.
Volkswagen (2) used to do topical ads. But not this time. This time we've got a dog in the front seat of a Polo. Don't be daft, he's not driving the car, he's just singing. We also see him trembling in the bank and somewhere else, before he's back in full voice in the passenger seat again. I dunno. Do they beat the dog into singing? Is that why he's so scared when he's in public? How do I know it's a he? Easy, he's singing I'm a Man.
From Wolfsburg to Munich, next up is a website for Mercedes-Benz (3). I've long believed that the internet is the TV advertising medium of the future, where creative people skilled in the craft of producing powerful integrated film communication ideas will run riot, unshackled by time lengths or the BACC, exploiting a technology that will allow them to reach an audience of zillions. At least, once we stop being a bit ... er ... dull.
Finally, two press ads for Lurpak (5). Or are they for bread? Or for bread and Lurpak? Do I sound grumpy? Eric Weiner must be over the moon ...
CREATIVE - Mark Whelan, creative director, Cake
Enclosed in every Private View package comes a letter from Campaign explaining the etiquette for reviewers. It states: "Please try to be as constructive as possible in your criticism."
Flicking through columns from the past couple of months revealed to me that not only is this "gentleman's agreement" largely ignored, but, in many cases, reviewers wantonly abuse the platform this column provides. It is regularly exploited, as a vehicle to promote the merits of their own organisation or to position themselves as terribly clever or damn cool individuals. I find this practice frankly deplorable.
At my own award-winning, groundbreaking global outfit, we don't judge, we reflect. As I said to a massive client on the way to her wedding reception: "You know, Miss Klein, we don't always get it right the way we did with Orange Playlist, the Evian Lido and Motorola Red Square, for example." The charming BA stewardess happened to overhear and added: "Plus we must also consider that we may not be the target demographic." We all raised a glass to that.
So I don't judge the Lynx (1) press ad, which links the recent earthquake to the Lynx effect (Wow! Lynx/links/Lynx, that's almost iambic) via printing a newspaper cutting alongside the can. I don't judge, I applaud. Good opportunism and good to see a client with a budget marked "good ideas". To judge is bad karma. My time in a Himalayan Ashram taught me that.
As a single, successful guy with 9 per cent body fat, I watched the Lactofree (6) TV spot with great interest. The spilt milk becomes a Friesian (I know it's Friesian because I work on a farm for disadvantaged kids at the weekend). A neat, simple, impactful, graphic solution. Reminds me of the collaboration we created between (a then unknown) Banksy and Hellmann's.
I love the Volkswagen (2) Polo ad with a singing dog. I love dogs. I love the brilliant Spencer Davis Group track - I played it a lot when I used to spin at Boombox. Cynics might say they are trying to do a "gorilla". Who cares? Potential Polo drivers will love it. And so do I, dammit.
We're inundated with new business at the moment, we may have to close our doors to it, but I would love to have a crack at Lurpak (5). I'm a big fan of using butter in my kitchen (though that's not the only room it's deployed in down Chiswick way). There's one cute press ad about a loaf of bread being the only packaging. The others are maybe a bit fussy, but then I'm not the target. Plus, it's good to see we've moved on from a tromboning man. So, well done you guys -and I'm not just trying to "butter you up".
A low-budget TV spot for Match of the Day Magazine (4) makes the best of, no doubt, limited resources. If more shoots were this economical, then perhaps we as an industry would have less of an impact on the environment. I just think it's time we had the debate, you know?
Finally, there's a Mercedes-Benz (3) website. Beautiful production. This is A Class for its C-Class. My guys in digital loved it. As did the teams in PR, live events, design, planning, ad-funded programming, luxury marketing, club promotion, student marketing, packaging, sampling, research, brand extension, brand identity and brand imagineering. And the 11 students couldn't leave it alone, which has to be a good sign because they are the online generation and I'm humble enough to know I'm not, though I think I have a pretty good understanding of the role it can play in a client's 360-degree communications to deliver maximum impact in a fragmented media environment. In short, a lovely sight, that site.
So, you see? We don't need to be negative. This column can do good work. Namaste.
Client: Katie Lindridge, UK brand manager, Unilever
Brief: Drive awareness of the brand philosophy through topical work
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writers: Dan Bailey, Brad Woolf
Art directors: Dan Bailey, Brad Woolf
Client: Sarah Luckraft, communications manager, Volkswagen
Brief: Reinforce the emotional benefit of Polo's established build
Writer: Feargal Ballance
Art director: Dylan Harrison
Director: Noam Murro
Production company: Independent
Exposure: National TV
Project: C-Class Estate
Client: Richard Payne, marketing communications manager, Mercedes-Benz
Brief: Create a site to demonstrate the versatility and performance of
the C-Class Estate
Agency: Agency Republic
Writer: Agency Republic
Art director: Agency Republic
Director: Agency Republic
Production company: Agency Republic
4. MATCH OF THE DAY MAGAZINE
Project: Match of the Day Magazine
Client: BBC Magazines
Brief: Get football-crazy kids excited about the launch of Match of the
Agency: Zeus Advertising
Writer: Chalky White
Art director: Julia Benwell-Froggatt
Directors: Farrah Drabu, Marcus Dryden
Production company: DNR Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Good food deserves Lurpak
Clients: Jessica Hardcastle, brand manager; Stuart Ibberson, senior
brand manager, Lurpak, Arla Foods
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London
Writers/art directors: Matt Joiner, Matt Powell-Perry ("crust"); Pete
Photographer: Dave Sykes
Exposure: National Press
Client: Arun Prabhu, senior innovation manager, Lactofree
Brief: The only milk alternative that gives you the taste of real milk
Agency: Euro RSCG
Writer: Ryan Petie
Art director: David Herse
Director: Stuart Parr
Production company: Blink Productions
Exposure: National TV