This is the first time I've done a Private View where no DVDs have been supplied and I'm asked to view the work online at campaignlive.co.uk instead. All very modern, I think, as I open the first link to the "young orators" film from BBC2 (1) in which kids repeat John F Kennedy's inaugural address. But, because I'm watching online, the lip synch is way out. So I can't tell if the director has managed to get great performances from the kids.
I had a read on the BBC site and the show makes a great brief when the second paragraph there reads: "Featuring 14- to 18-year-olds, the eight-part series sees tough-talking teens, class jokers and shy, sensitive types go head-to-head as they learn to talk publicly and passionately about things that matter to them."
The resulting film is nice enough, if a tad familiar in style.
Asda (3) has asked Fallon to advertise the fact it has got 7,000 items for a pound. Asda hasn't let Fallon release a load of bouncing prawn balls or bath foam in the aisles to make this point. There's no gorilla drumming on the checkout either. And where's the Saturday boy yelling "bring on the crumpets" over the store PA system? The message kinda reflects the times, I guess. But why hire an agency such as Fallon and get it to do what you can get from any old corner shop?
Yell (4) has thrust upon us a song that claims its 118 247 service is directory heaven. If you're the sort of nork who would actually describe a directory enquiry service as "heaven", it may well be - but the song is directory fucking hell. Unfortunately, it will get into your brain, after it's got on your nerves and tits.
James Gandolfini has disembarked from American Airlines (6) and they're cruising with Kevin Spacey instead. According to campaignlive, this rather straightforward, boring film is directed by Michelle Gondrey. Now either Michel has a sister who is following badly in his footsteps or this is a typo (which no doubt they'll correct now, making me look like a liar) and this is a cut-down of a longer and much more interesting script. I sincerely hope so, although I couldn't find one on YouTube but I did find a funny film of Mr Spacey slagging off Ryanair.
The print campaign for Beatbullying's (2) CyberMentors looks good. The art direction is clean and considered. The site too offers lots of help for kids worried about bullying and it's sprinkled with celebs giving encouragement and support. The short films also help to keep it from being too static.
Finally, Schweppes (5) rather pompously claims that its campaign will be "humorously highlighting recent situations where people have demonstrated experience ... or the lack thereof".
It feels like the sort of language a 200-year-old might use and does experience really matter that much when it comes to tonic water? The out-take for me is that this is a very defensive campaign, maybe because of pressure from own-labels?
The two attempts at satirical humour (global meltdown and world leaders) could certainly have been done 200 years ago. But all is not lost because, right on cue, we've got Jacqui Smith's old man beating out a dream brief to Raw Meat 3 and By Special Request. I'll be looking out for this one, Schweppes. It will tell me if you've got a future.
ENTREPRENEUR - Deborah Meaden, entrepreneur, serial investor and Dragons' Den dragon
There's something unnerving hearing the words of adult wisdom pouring forth in an adult voice from an unlikely teenager's mouth. I like unnerving. By keeping the visuals low-key and focusing on the words, the TV campaign for the upcoming BBC2 (1) programme The Speaker cleverly captures everything the series is about; not just the search for Britain's best young speaker, but why great orators are important and how they can form our views of the world. This was a particularly interesting campaign for me as I agreed to be one of the mentors in the series precisely because I believe in the power of great speech. So to see the message captured in this way was very satisfying. Although I think it could have been made more interesting by using a variety of famous speeches, it still holds my attention.
The same cannot be said of the directory heaven campaign for Yell (4). This feels very much like a campaign for radio with pictures added, only the pictures add nothing. I had, in fact, seen the ad several times before I was asked to review it and did not register what it was for. This is particularly odd as the visuals are very "whizzy whirry" but all too bright, busy and blip-verty for me, so by the time the strapline comes through I have taken the opportunity to give my eyes a break and make myself a cup of tea. It works well as a radio campaign. Full stop.
Starting from the point that I have loved pretty much everything that Kevin Spacey has ever done, the American Airlines (6) campaign was off to a head start. Unfortunately, I think Kevin is its biggest problem, not him per se, but by securing such a screen presence, it has fallen into the trap of relying so heavily on its star that, despite beautiful filming, music and lighting, the content somehow feels overlooked and the resultant ad feels dull, with a hint of smugness.
The Asda (3) ads, on the other hand, are anything but dull or smug and the latest campaign manages to remain comfortingly familiar while offering us something new. Asda knows what matters to its customers and its conveys the message through the actual people who are going to deliver it. We see real people standing in real stores, telling us in their own words what Asda has to offer. In the background, we see actual shoppers and the soundtrack leaves you with the impression you are listening in on a moment in the store. If, at the end, we are in any doubt at all as to who is talking to us, they wrap the whole thing up nicely with that other Asda masterstroke ... the pocket-tap. Simple, but masterful.
I am left feeling oddly unsure whether I like the latest Schweppes (5) ads. I want to (like them, that is) because they look different, they look clever and they look like they should be funny. Unfortunately, none of the above are particularly true and I am left feeling slightly disappointed once I have invested the time to understand them and it becomes clear that they are not as clever or challenging as they first promised. Neither are they particularly funny. They are different and they have made me think, although not necessarily about buying an Indian tonic water.
I have purposely placed my final critique last as its harrowing topic somehow does not sit comfortably between the smugness of American Airlines and the day-to-day down-to-earthiness of Asda. To tackle the topic of cyber-bullying successfully requires a fine balancing act. Too tough and it alienates, too soft and it loses impact, too visual and it turns off and too clever and it becomes more important than its topic. I think the Beatbullying (2) CyberMentors campaign hits the spot (almost) perfectly. The outline images portray the stark reality without actually showing the graphically ugly bits and the clever use of words as both message and visual leaves us in no doubt as to why we are being shown such shocking images. I did, however, say almost perfect. Some of the images work better than others and I suspect that the campaign was based around the primary "hanging" image, while the other less-powerful images offer diversity but also dilution. Overall, though, a difficult campaign tackled very effectively.
1. BBC 2
Project: Young orators
Client: Ruairi Curran, marketing manager, BBC2 and Knowledge
Brief: Communicate to audiences the power of great oratory, promoting
The Lost Art Of Oratory and The Speaker on BBC2
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Mike Boles
Art director: Jerry Hollens
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Red Bee Media
Exposure: TV, radio
Project: Bullying can kill
Client: Sherry Adhami, head of communications, Beatbullying
Brief: Educate consumers about the CyberMentors programme while creating
a platform that puts CyberMentors and cyber-bullying on the news agenda
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Orlando Warner
Art director: Graham Fink
Photographer: Jonathan Muddell
Project: The colleague promise
Clients: Katherine Paterson, director of brand communications; Sam
Morgan, head of national advertising, Asda
Brief: Allow the colleagues at Asda to demonstrate the Asda promise
Writer: Phil Cockrell
Art director: Graham Storey
Director: Greg Fay
Production company: RSA Films
Project: Directory heaven
Client: Helen Stevenson, chief marketing officer, Yell
Brief: Promote the phone service to a wider audience as the brand looks
to expand its user base
Writer: Jonathan Bradley
Art director: Kevin Bratley
Director: Jonti Pickering
Production company: Tomboy
Exposure: National TV
Project: Experience matters
Client: Claire Turnbull, senior brand manager, Schweppes
Brief: Emphasise how a typical Schweppes buyer will recognise the value
of how experience matters in life and how that ties into this
Writer/art director: Mother
Illustrator: David Hopkins
Exposure: Press, outdoor
6. AMERICAN AIRLINES
Project: Business class
Clients: Maria Sebastian, vice-president, sales and marketing, EMEA;
Jonathan Pierce, European marketing manager, AA
Brief: Showcase AA as the choice airline for the discerning flyer
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer: Jerry Gallaher
Art director: Clive Yaxley
Director: Michel Gondry
Production company: Partizan