Understandably, lots of businesses have chosen to save money by rerunning last year's ads. In the current climate, they look like artifacts from some long-lost civilisation. Bullshit, however beautifully shot, has never looked so old-fashioned.
So what kind of adver ... oops, sorry ... comms is appropriate these days? Well, we know there's not a lot of trust out there, and if people no longer believe their bank, we're going to try very hard to be believed.
The animated Smarties (4) viral felt quite honest and home-made.A pink one travels the globe before eventually finding a blue one. They fall in love, then get eaten. "Colour your imagination." I'm not sure what it's saying.
Walkers Sensations (3). Lots of Asians wearing Lycra tell the ingredients story of Thai Chilli flavour via the medium of mime. They run, swishing yellow silk around, walking like crabs and blowing fire, thereby demonstrating how the flavour unfolds. I realise Gary Lineker may feel a bit mainstream for posh crisps, but they are still Walkers, so for me it just seems a bit schizo to go from the popular, down-to-earth "Do us a flavour" to the distant, arty Cirque Du Soleil-style ad.
Sharwood's (2). Lots of Asians, wearing white coats this time, tell the Thai Green Curry story using the medium of speech. A kind of Cockney/Asian mash-up-style speech. "Sharwood's. So much still to discover." Brilliant, perhaps I'll buy one. In the future. When they discover something.
The insurance company formerly known as Norwich Union has now changed its name to the funky Aviva (6).
Lots of really quite cross people tell us how they want to be treated. Ringo (yes, that Ringo) doesn't want to be called Ringo, an unrecognisable Asian guy wants people to recognise him. Elle McPherson doesn't want to be treated like an idiot, and some unreasonable chap doesn't want to be a "customer reference number". Let's face it, you're hardly going to be welcomed with a friendly "Hi Bob, how's tricks?" Norwich Union is a big ol' company. Why does all this happen? "Aviva. This is not business as usual." It's given me no reason to believe that's true.
Amazingly, the Tesco (5) school voucher scheme has given more than £150 million in equipment away since 1992. There's now a wider range of equipment that vouchers will go towards, from planting kits to historical costumes. I just wonder whether this message may be more effective in-store. On TV, the voiceover has to do a hell of a lot of work.
There's surely never been a better time to do ads for the Financial Times (1). Everybody on the planet is desperate for information on what has been the FT's specialist subject for 121 years.
"Where are we headed?" the line asks. Below is a picture of a rolled-up copy of the FT, making it look a bit like a telescope. Heavens to murgatroyd! Don't give me visual metaphors, give me something I can use - information, analysis, facts, anything!
I see a couple of positives coming from the current climate. With money so scarce, creative thinking may become more valued. Second, it could finally kill off all those expensive ads set in South America where thousands of poor peasants are forced to create a meaningless stunt on behalf of some rich multinational.
STUDENT - Jamie Fisher, the winner of the Viacom Brand Solutions/MTV UK "Show Us What You're Made Of" anti-knife crime competition in partnership with the Home Office
As a final-year university student at the London College of Communications studying film, I tend to watch a lot of television. This came in handy as the majority of these ads I had already seen, so writing this was no problem.
The Sharwood's (2) documentary-style approach almost made me feel that eating its sauce would be like visiting Asia and having the local ingredients cooked exclusively for me. The film seemed like a backpacker's story on how to find the perfect recipe for a dish, when in reality, the product had already been made. A smart technique - it takes away the thought of eating a sauce loaded with preservatives and replaces it with something fresh instead.
It's great to see Walkers (3) has completely rebranded its Sensations range. Walkers has been using Gary Lineker in its ads since 1980 and it's refreshing not to see him, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and Charlotte Church trying to sell us crisps. Instead, we are presented with vibrant, striking images in front of a black background. Amazing performers, including a dancer, fire breathers and contortionists, exhibit performances that result in an on-screen 30-second circus.
Although presented in a completely different approach to the Sharwood's ad, we still feel as if we have travelled through Asia and the display summarises the taste through visuals, so you can almost experience the flavour itself.
The next ad is a story about someone who travelled the world in search of love. They go snorkelling, visit the pyramids in Egypt, travel to Brazil only to be flattened by a football, they fall in love with sushi in Japan, they then experiment with internet dating but still can't find true love. The individual gives up and returns to where they came from, only to be reunited with a blue Smartie in the packet, where they fall in love. Yes, that's right, this is a viral ad created in stop motion about a Smarties (4) romance. At 88 seconds long, I found it far too long to sit through and felt like I could have travelled the world and found true love myself in the same amount of time. At the end, we are then presented with a slogan that is only aimed at Canadians or dyslexics: "Colour your imagination."
The Tesco (5) follow-up to its previous vouchers for schools campaign is great. It continues the same trend of normal school activities being made to look like they could be more fun with the aid of the vouchers for schools. The pace is great and is accompanied by a catchy banjo riff and Dawn French's chirpy voiceover.
The Financial Times (1) has kept its campaign simple and fresh; using three rolled-up papers to create a telescope with the slogan: "Where are we headed?" The logo of the brand name is used as the logo for the poster, which makes it feel a lot more organic. It doesn't stand out from other ads, but it doesn't need to. I'm sure this will be used on bus-stops where people will be waiting for their bus wishing that they brought something to read.
Ringo Star, Elle McPherson and Macaulay Culkin star in Aviva (6)'s new TV commercial. Ringo "starred" in the last ad and this is a continuation of it. Where the last ad focused on the changing of a name, this focuses on the customer expectations of an insurance company. It's slickly shot, but feels very American. Although it promotes the company well with an ad you will remember, I didn't understand the need to have the multiple person effect. In the last ad, it made sense because it showed the stars during their prime, talking about changing their name for greater success. For this ad, it seems unnecessary.
1. FINANCIAL TIMES
Project: Financial Times
Client: Caroline Halliwell, FT
Brief: Position the Financial Times as a trusted source of global
business news, comment and analysis in troubled economic times
Agency: DDB London
Writer: Dylan Harrison
Art director: Feargal Ballance
Photographer: Leon Steele
Project: Still so much to discover
Client: Premier Foods
Brief: Create a new positioning for the Sharwood's range and build an
emotional connection with a broader audience
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Chris McDonald
Art director: Matt Statham
Director: Helen Simpson
Production company: Independent
Exposure: National TV
3. WALKERS SENSATIONS
Project: Thai Sweet Chilli
Client: Ian Ellington, vice-president marketing, Walkers
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Prabs Wignarajah
Art director: Jeremy Tribe
Directors: Liam Kan, Gran Hodgson
Production company: Great Guns
Exposure: National TV
Brief: Colour your imagination
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Fernanda Romano
Art director: Christiano Neves
Directors: Christiano Neves, Fernanda Romano
Production company: JWT London
Project: Tesco school vouchers
Client: Abi Robbins, Sports Day, Tesco
Brief: The new Tesco For Schools scheme has something for every one of
Agency: The Red Brick Road
Writer: Dan Warner
Art director: Andy Vasey
Director: Pedro Romhanyi
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: National TV
Project: I am John
Brief: Demonstrate Aviva's new brand promise to recognise people as
individuals and treat them accordingly
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Tony Strong
Art director: Mike Durban
Director: Vaughan Arnell
Production company: Serious Pictures
Exposure: International TV