Summer. I tell you, it puts me in a right old shiny mood, does summer. True, my enjoyment is somewhat stifled at the moment by the comedy Robocop knee-brace I'm wearing (my own fault; as my idiot, but eloquent friend put it, I wrote a cheque that my body couldn't hope to cash), but still. I love summer. Sitting outside with a cigarette on, developing a homeless tan so vivid that when I take my top off it looks for all the world like I'm wearing a white T-shirt with a novelty nipple print; the freshly mown scent of newly waxed lady legs; the tinkling, wind-chime sound of young creative teams squabbling over the new DfT brief ... lovely stuff. Puts me in a horribly good mood.
Which is possibly why I'm merely faintly disappointed by the work I'm reviewing this beautifully sunny day, as opposed to being driven to a SuBo-like fit of self-harming despair by it all ...
Actually, I'm not faintly disappointed by the Drench (1) ad. I'm gutted by it. You see, I loved the "Brains" spot - daft, joyous, beautifully rendered, whatever the mealy mouthed "it's just like 'gorilla'" comments from some of the industry - and this follow-up has shattered my belief that it had a wonderful lateral creativity behind it. Beautiful direction and render aside, it was all just a weak pun. Nothing more. As we saw Brains literally being refreshed in the last spot, in this one we see some biffa literally "staying on top of his game". And the "game" he's staying on top of is, like, you know, a great big pheasant, geddit? Horrible pun, horrible CGI, horribly disappointed. Bugger.
The new London Evening Standard (6) outdoor takes its conceptual cue from the ordinary-but-chirpy TV work, yet manages to render it in an extraordinarily bleak late-70s art-directional style that makes me think of miners' strikes and three-day weeks and pissy-smelling alleyways. Must be a sign of the times.
Being primarily a chap, I reckon that the new Strongbow (5) ad looked quite OK on paper. Despite it standing with wobbly knees on the shoulders of Blackcurrant Tango, The F Word and The Mail on Sunday, what's not to like? The "heroically gathered masses" theme has that Henry V at Harfleur-ishness that reduces grown men to tears (cf. 300, Spartacus, Gladiator, Bigfoot And The Hendersons), and the positioning of the brand as a battle cry for post-work refreshment is more than fine. But, as we all know from bitter personal experience, there's many a slip twixt script and screen, and for some reason it feels rather ... flat. Above and beyond the nagging familiarity, I can't actually work out exactly why, but sadly, it neither stiffens the sinews nor summons up the blood.
But the new Waitrose (2) DM campaign seems to have got a lot of people excited, according to the five-star rating it gets on the Campaign website. Either it genuinely is better than Hovis, Virgin 25 and Cadbury's "eyebrows", or those boys at Kitcatt Nohr have been furiously exercising their democratic right to vote.
I was never a huge fan of Madness (4). I found their particular brand of forced wackiness primarily appealed to the thick of neck and acne-blushed. Not a problem, mind. They have as much right as anybody to make themselves a telly ad. The fact that this particular telly ad seems to have been written by a thick-necked, acne-blushed teenager from 1983 is more of a problem.
Another blast from the past, with John Shuttleworth advertising Yorkshire Tea (3). Not embarrassing, but just a little out of date, and Shuttleworth ends up feeling like a random bit of casting struggling to make a point about why I should buy that particular brand of bag. Still, the ad did make me YouTube Pigeons In Flight for old times' sake, even if I did watch it while drinking a delicious cup of PG Tips.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE - Farah Ramzan Golant, chief executive, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
At this year's Christian Dior spring couture show, in response to the question "and what do you think about the recession?", John Galliano replied: "This is a credit crunch. Not a creative crunch." The same applies to advertising. We need to raise our game in times like these, to create cut-through ideas that move people to think, feel and, importantly, do something. We also need our work to move seamlessly as consumers do between their online/offline worlds without a glitch.
First up is the "second difficult album" for Drench (1). "Brains perform better when they're hydrated" was an outstanding launch ad and line to give the brand a brilliant start. "Stay on top of your game" as a further iteration doesn't have the same impact or originality. It just goes to show the power of music (who doesn't love Black Box?) to save a weaker execution.
Pairing up the much-loved John Shuttleworth (Google him if you don't know him, his website is pretty bonkers - he describes himself as a versatile singer/organist from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Ambition is to succeed in the sphere of popular music. Retired security guard, hobbies are swimming, Ping Pong and DIY) with the equally loved Yorkshire Tea (3) was an inspiration. In an era when so much is being dumbed-down, this ad is a lovely way to assert how important "tea time" should be. I do feel there is a small missed opportunity with this pairing, though. How great would it be to have Shuttleworth's blog on the Yorkshire Tea website? It would really bring the idea to life online and make the humour live beyond the TV ad.
Strongbow's (5) "Bowtime" is more a way of life for cider drinkers, than just an ad. If you go on to its website, you can become a member of the Bowtime club and win rewards; find the nearest pub to you that serves Strongbow or find out which festival its roadshow is going to and more. The ad encompasses this passion with a group of "grafters" gathering to celebrate their hard day's work with a pint of Strongbow. But, are they talking to the right people? Last time I looked, it was students chugging Strongbow at the bar. Still, it's feelgood advertising when we need it most.
No-one ever wants to see a brand on its knees and the London Evening Standard's (6) "Sorry" campaign did just that and was then appropriately ticked off in Campaign". Then it starts apologising for its bad old ways like a prisoner in the dock at an old-time Moscow show trial." Happily, its latest poster campaign is fun, content-relevant and vibrant. Just like London. My particular favourite is "Evening worship". If the London Evening Standard takes this campaign through its website, I believe that it will resonate more and truly bring the new design and personality to life.
Promoting music albums on TV follows a formula. Although tried and tested, it is one that works pretty well. So unless you have a knock-out idea, why put Suggs from Madness (4) in a spoof washing powder ad to sell the band's new album? It's a waste and a shame as Suggs is a genuinely likeable guy who could sell shedloads of records by just singing with his band, Madness.
Last up is a direct mail campaign for Waitrose (2), which admittedly has been slow to react to the credit crunch. So, how has it reacted creatively? The leaflet does a pretty good job of introducing Waitrose's essentials range in a beautifully art directed, "Waitrose" way. I guess this is in order not to alienate their current customer base, especially if they're trying to persuade them that Waitrose is everyday and affordable and not just for special occasions. But if you look closely at the meal suggestions and actual prices, the consumer is not really getting value for money or food ideas compared with Waitrose's competitors.
Guess we all need to follow the Galliano way with a bit more vim and vigour and attack this recession with creativity rather than give in to the gloom.
Where there is creativity, there is hope.
Project: Drench juicy
Client: Cameron Davidson, brand director, Drench
Brief: Demonstrate the benefit of staying mentally hydrated to launch
Drench juicy spring water
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writer/art director: Ewan Paterson
Director: Peter Thwaites
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: TV, online
Project: Essential Waitrose
Client: Neil Stead, marketing manager (direct marketing), Waitrose
Brief: Promote the new essential Waitrose range and help reposition
Waitrose as offering the everyday and affordable
Agency: Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw
Writers: Paul Kitcatt, Kate Flather
Art director: Philip Keevill
3. YORKSHIRE TEA
Project: Where tea time's important
Client: James Prentice, brand manager, Yorkshire Tea
Brief: Bring together two Yorkshire institutions to celebrate the
importance of tea time
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writers: Simon Bere, Graham Fellows
Art director: Simon Bere
Director: Willy Smax
Production companies: Willy Smax Films, Chic Ken Productions
Exposure: National TV, radio, digital
Project: The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
Brief: Promote the new Madness album, The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
Writer/art director: Sell!Sell!
Production company: Gas & Electric
Exposure: TV, online
Client: Fiona Seath, Strongbow brand manager, Scottish & Newcastle UK
Brief: Give Strongbow a role in its drinkers' lives by positioning it as
the reward for hard graft
Agency: St Luke's
Writers/art directors: Enrique Reija, Jules Vizard, Borja Alvarez, Tim
Collins, Al Young
Director: James Rouse
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: TV, posters, radio, viral
6. LONDON EVENING STANDARD
Project: Brand relaunch
Client: Andrew Mullins, managing director, London Evening Standard
Brief: Connect the London Evening Standard back to London
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writers: Mike Oughton, Johnny Skinner, Chris McDonald, Miguel Soares,
Art directors: Ben Brazier, Matt Statham, Tim Swan, Claire Thompson
Typographer: Gary Todd