Food is often associated with good things in life -nice as pie, cheap as chips, milk of human kindness - unless it's pizza, which is only ever coupled with face and pavement. If your product summons up pustules and puke in people's minds, you can confidently assume that good looks are not its strong point.
So Domino's (6) is bold to produce a set of idents for Britain's Got Talent around the conceit that its pizza is a glamorous icon, mobbed at every turn by fans and paparazzi. Of course, the pizzas here don't resemble any you've actually eaten: the bases are unfeasibly smooth, the toppings too profuse and colourful. They look more like the upturned face of Jade Goody after she's been brushed with glue and sent for a walk in a windy Fuzzy Felt factory. But if it keeps Domino's away from The Simpsons, I'm all for it.
The TV campaign for Staples (4) office supplies is set, not unreasonably, in an office. Equally understandable, but less wise, is its eagerness to borrow from The Office. Although it gets some nice deadpan performances from the cast, the situations they find themselves in are a long way from the believable mundanity of the TV programme. You can't imagine David Brent discovering a long-lost colleague behind a pile of files, or Gareth knitting everyone jumpers in the time he spends waiting for the printer to function. The ads end with the words: "That was easy." I can't help feeling this is over-confident.
The Bovril (2) print campaign features mad people who hike, camp and fish. Refreshingly, it fails to show them smiling in their tent with a steaming cup of Bovril at the end of a life-affirming day. Instead we are privy to their thoughts, which amount to "What the bloody hell am I doing out here?" and the endline is: "Bovril. Give me strength." A good insight, nicely executed.
I'm one of those people who get booed at cricket grounds for not leaping to their feet and joining the bored drunks in a Mexican wave. So I was unlikely to warm to BT Fon's (5) website, which appears to consist of the relentlessly limited idea of uploading yourself doing one second's worth of a Mexican wave. If you don't know how to stand there and stick your arms in the air, there are instruction clips from a visibly embarrassed Arsenal squad and a crestfallen Peter Crouch. Abysmal.
Virgin Media (1) is working its way through the cast of Pulp Fiction to advertise its digital TV. Samuel L Jackson puts more effort into it than Uma Thurman did, and he's always likeable. But ultimately Sam is a hired hand who has no credible link to the brand. And if you have or covet Sky+, there's nothing here to tempt you in another direction. Incidentally, it is not because WCRS is one of Sky's agencies that I think that. It's because I'm one of its customers.
Now, most of us who get the odd pasting in Private View don't think about it for longer than it takes to say "talentless twat" about the reviewer. But some agencies are more sensitive than others, and this week, the John Lewis (3) work arrived from Lowe complete with a five-minute film that expounds the strategy, shows the making of the ad, explains it hadn't forgotten to take the wires out in post, and features everyone from the charming marketing director to a magnificently hirsute Ed Morris.
Lowe will probably claim it made the film as a bit of internal PR, but I know what you're up to, Ed. You needn't have worried: I love that you haven't taken the wires out and I thought the ads were poncy, but very nice.
CREATIVES - Dave Bedwood, Sam Ball, creative partners, Lean Mean Fighting Machine
Last year we were fortunate enough to bag a D&AD Pencil, then the work went and got a right pummelling on a couple of bloody blogs and from one man in particular. We spotted the chap who had spat the bile (fair play, he wasn't coward enough to hide behind "anon") at an industry "do" and so we cornered him, hoping he'd renege his words and admit he was just twisted with bitterness and jealously. But no, he said the work was complete shite to our face, and in our opinion you can't say fairer than that.
So taking him as our inspiration we have decided on one golden rule when reviewing this work: would we say it to the creator's face?
First up is Virgin Media (1). The actual craft and design of this ad is great, even though it does remind us of the Kanye West Good Life video. The major take out (being Sky+ subscribers) is: how is Virgin redefining TV? The proposition is just not believable. It doesn't have Lost or 24 and at the end of the day, it is the shows that count, but you can't blame the ad for that.
On to imagining telling Ed Morris to his face what we think of his agency's latest John Lewis (3) work. Gulp. Thankfully, the ads are beautifully art directed. The music is splendid and refreshingly without a new-wave folk song in sight. They are not more than the sum of their parts, though, and they work much better as individual ten-second spots.
Next, some good solid ads for Bovril (2). However, what Bovril really needs is perception-changing advertising. Many clients feel reassured if their ads look and feel like ads, and hence are far more likely to buy them. If the client was standing in front of us we would say "go on take a risk, do yourself a favour and let your agency loose, you won't regret it and in this case your advertising needs to be as strong and pungent as your product".
We have worked with the next lot; being a nice bunch it is even harder to be truthful. But these ads for Domino's (6) miss an opportunity, the joke is not really that strong for one ad never mind 18. A lot of idents just feel the same nowadays, so a great time to stand out. Remember the Doritos ones from about ten years ago? Nothing has beaten them since.
Now on to online. It seems that doing a great bit of online work just means getting "everyday" people to upload content to your site. Forgetting that the content still has to be relevant and make a point, it can't be for its own sake, and making the world's biggest Mexican wave for BT Fon (5) wi-fi doesn't seem to say anything. Have a look at the Nike Chain website, the same in its sense of trying to get users to contribute to a big event, but different in the fact that it is completely tied into the product.
Finally, we turn to the Staples (4) TV ads. They are shot like they could be scenes from The Office and, if not entirely fair, beg the comparison. They can't help but pale in imitation, and only the one where the old employee had been buried among paperwork for years is genuinely funny.
Again, it is only a 30-second ad, not a sitcom, and that is sometimes enough. Advertising can be at its best when it doesn't try to be something it isn't, because if content is king in this new world then it looks like we will all have to write something funnier than Mr Gervais. Shit.
1. VIRGIN MEDIA
Project: Virgin Media TV
Client: Lisa McCormack, director of brand and acquisition, Virgin Media
Brief: Push the benefits of Virgin Media's video-on-demand and catch-up
Writer/art director: Rapier
Directors: Saiman Chow, Jonas Akerlund, Sean Dougherty
Production company: Goodstuff
Project: Give me strength
Client: Noam Buchalater, brand development manager, Unilever UK
Brief: Reposition Bovril as the official drink of the great outdoors
Art director: Krow
Photographer: Julian Germain
Exposure: National weekend supplements and specialist monthly titles
3. JOHN LEWIS
Project: Set the stage for spring
Client: Gill Barr, marketing director, John Lewis
Brief: Inspire people to update their home by presenting the new spring
range at John Lewis
Agency: Lowe London
Writer: Tom Hudson
Art director: Lee Goulding
Director: Gary Freedman
Production company: @radical.media
Project: Staples - that was easy
Client: Rachel Trueblood, marketing director, Staples UK
Brief: Drive brand awareness for Staples by focusing on the brand
message that Staples makes office life easier
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writers: Cameron Mitchell, Mike Oughton
Art directors: Elliot Harris, Cameron Short
Director: Michael Downing
Production company: Rokkit
5. BT FON
Client: Fraser Smeaton, interim director, internet services marketing,
Brief: Celebrate BT's partnership with Fon, pioneering the world's
largest community of free wi-fi access
Writer/art director: Aaron Hinchion
Designer: Tom Pounder
Exposure: Internet, viral
Project: Domino's Pizza sponsorship/Britain's Got Talent 2008
Client: Robin Auld, sales and marketing director, Domino's Pizza Group
Brief: Produce a comprehensive sponsorship campaign for Dominos Pizza's
sponsorship of Britain's Got Talent
Agency: Duke TV
Writer/art director: Mike Baldwin
Director: Mike Baldwin
Production company: Duke TV