From the moment we begin to grasp language, we beg our parents to read us stories.
As adults we immerse ourselves in stories, both fact and fiction, which we read, hear or watch played out on screens. Stories educate and inspire us. Smart brands know this and manage our attention effectively through telling us stories.
The really great brands are stories in their own right.
Apple played David to IBM's Goliath.
Nike is a Greek myth that makes Gods of mere mortals.
The Transport for London (5) spot is the story of an adult trapped in the body of a child. The film is understated and intriguing - the boy's performance is great. The mystery is solved by the endline: "Lose your licence and you're a kid again." Although this line could have been sharper, it's a great idea that I hope we get to see expressed in other media.
The Learning and Skills Council (2) campaign replaces our "gremlin" work. Putting my emotions about that to one side, the technique is compelling and it's quite unlike anything else on air.
Vodafone (6). Is this the sort of one that used to be told by improv' artists on Whose Line is it Anyway? Tony, your task is ... a Shakespearian tragedy in the style of a hoedown. In this case, it's an ad about passionate human relationships starring (you guessed it) Lewis Hamilton. The team has made a pretty good fist of a brief that looks like it may have been born of corporate sponsorship politics.
Mr Brain's (1) faggots. There must be a good story to be had here. Even if it's just one based on this product's gloriously unappetising name. Instead we get a pun. It's so old-fashioned I thought I'd somehow slipped through a wormhole in the space/time continuum. Yes, it's "retro-styled", but why not go all the way? Get the bugger printed on tin plates and screwed on the walls of idyllic village shops. Pears Soap 2d - you know the sort of thing.
Allinson (4). This campaign takes its inspiration from the greatest story ever told. The world's biggest book. The one that the Gideons so kindly leave in your bedside drawer at Premier Inn. The team probably would have used the "our daily bread" line from the Lord's Prayer on it until some rotten old spoilsport made them take it off. Nevertheless, pride and care have been put into these and that implies equal pride and care is put into baking the bread.
The cut I've seen of the Visa (3) ad on air is good but the 60-second sent on DVD is wonderful. This is a great little story: a mysterious, dramatic start. A resourceful, determined hero. A happy ending with a wedding. I love it. If Saatchi & Saatchi pulls off another like this, it'll break Mastercard's monopoly of powerful work in this sector. It made me feel good about being a Visa customer. The End. JOURNALIST - Jeremy Langmead, editor, Esquire
I'm a huge fan of TV campaigns and, depending on the time and the channel, will often find myself looking forward to the ad breaks as much as the programmes. However, it's sometimes easy to forget that these campaigns are meant to convey a message, or sell a product, as well as entertain.
So let's begin with Transport for London (5) and "kid again". It starts promisingly with a good soundtrack and a teasing storyline that gives no clue as to where you are going: a gruff child, acting like a grown-up, swaggers bullishly out of a magistrate's court to find himself inexplicably alienated from everyone around him. You are tantalised as to what the point is. It turns out to be an anti-drink/drugs driving campaign: lose your licence and you'll be treated like a kid again. It is cleverly conceived and makes compelling viewing. My only problem is that TfL is supposed to be encouraging us to forgo cars for public transport or bicycles. This directly implies you're not cool, or even an adult, if you don't man a motor. Oh yes, and the review DVD didn't work. Just like public transport.
The gentleman starring in the "running man" TV campaign for Visa (3) has also given up on public transport. Or he's another victim of Terminal Five. Either way, he spends most of the ad running across every major continent butt-naked clutching only a Visa card. On the way, without breaking his stride, he manages to score a snack, buy some clothes, visit a barbershop, purchase a ring and arrive just in time to join his bride at the altar (he was the victim of an elaborate stag-night escapade). The film is humorous and entertaining with high production values you can readily appreciate, while the point it makes about the advantages of possessing a Visa is loud and clear.
The "decisive moments" ad for Vodafone (6) also relies on transport. It features footage of Lewis Hamilton apparently racing through the backstreets and pedestrian walkways of a quaint European city and arriving at a train station. It is only when the cameras come to a halt at a woman waiting on the platform that you realise it's her lover's speedy journey on foot, not Hamilton's, that you've been following. Hamilton is still whizzing around a racetrack somewhere. Confused? I was. Initially, I couldn't work out why Hamilton had morphed into a Caucasian with designer stubble. For me, the two elements didn't quite come together. I got the message when Judi Dench's voiceover came on, but it was all a bit messy.
The hand puppetry featured in the "fresh start" campaign for the Learning and Skills Council (2) is extraordinary. I was amazed at how simple and effective it was. The ad is charming, inclusive, funny and persuasive. It deserves far more airtime than it will ever receive.
Finally, two print ads promoting basic food products aimed at a supermarket-friendly consumer who is unlikely to spend too much time browsing the overpriced shelves of Fresh & Wild. Allinson (4)'s campaign for its range of sliced brown breads has wisely gone down the Jamie Oliver route by accentuating the product's natural-sounding ingredients and provenance. It has also picked up on the current trend for consumers trusting a product with a history by going big on the company's 1892 beginnings. The artwork is a little ambitious since it recreates biblical paintings with a loaf of bread replacing poor baby Jesus. A sign of the times, perhaps.
On the contrary, the Mr Brain's (1) brand has gone down the new-look Delia route. Its garish ad for pork faggots looks horribly processed. It states that: "99 per cent of men said they prefer women with brains." Well, looking at the picture of the faggots on the packet, they're likely to get trotters, tails and mushed-up scrotums, too. The company would be better off spending its money on a more enticing brand name.
1. MR BRAIN'S PORK FAGGOTS
Project: Mr Brain's Pork Faggots
Client: Mark Brown, senior brand manager, Kerry Foods
Brief: Rejuvenate and extend the appeal of this classic frozen-food
Agency: Quiet Storm
Writers/art directors: Jo Wallace, Cat Campbell
Photographer: Carl-Johan Paulin
Exposure: National print and radio
2. LEARNING AND SKILLS COUNCIL
Project: Get on - numeracy campaign
Clients: Dymphna McGee, national marketing and communications project
manager, Learning and Skills Council; Emma Withers, John Hosier, COI
Brief: Help adults with basic maths
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writer: Tony Malcolm
Art director: Guy Moore
Director: Mike Stephenson
Production company: Moon
Exposure: TV, print, radio, internet
Project: Running man
Client: Mariano Dima, executive vice-president, marketing and payment
solutions, Visa Europe
Brief: Dramatise the role Visa plays in people's lives
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Writers/art directors: Dave Henderson, Richard Denney
Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: TV, viral, print, in-store
Client: Jonathan Wilson, marketing director, Allied Bakeries
Brief: Relaunch Allinson as a company passionate about being the best in
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Paul Pickersgill
Art director: Tiger Savage
Photographer: Stuart Weston
Exposure: Weekly and monthly magazines
5. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Project: Young drivers
Client: Chris MacLeod, head of group marcoms, Transport for London
Brief: Reduce the number of driving offences among 17- to 25-year-olds
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Tom Drew
Art director: Uche Ezugwu
Director: Walter Stern
Production company: Academy Films
Exposure: Cinema, radio, outdoor
Project: Decisive moments
Client: David Wheldon, global director of brand and customer experience,
Brief: Continue the Vodafone call-to-action of "make the most of now"
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Ian Williamson
Art director: Steve Wakelam
Director: Sean Meehan
Production company: Nice Shirt Films
Exposure: National TV