Thinkbox (5) has made a TV ad to sell TV ads to people like us. Blimey, tricky brief. It has chosen to "open on" a bloke on a psychiatrist's couch under hypnosis. He can only respond to the psychiatrist's questions in old advertising slogans and jingles. Such is the power of these ad classics, they are forever etched on his brain.
Now, I for one do not need to be convinced of the power of TV to launch an idea into the disparate media landscape that they inhabit. But, if I did, I'm not sure this retrospective of 70s and 80s advertising would convince me.
The Robinsons (1) TV ad does a far better job in making a case for TV advertising. Though nothing we haven't seen before, it is beautifully made using filmic techniques to build the tension and draw us into the drama. It shows a variety of different people, young and old, black and white, posh and not, all glued to their TV sets watching a tennis match. Using slow motion and a dramatic score that builds suspense, the commercial reaches its climax as we hear an exciting commentary of the final moments of the game. As the words "we have a British Wimbledon champion" ring out, the enthralled viewers celebrate, their release palpable. The ad ends: "It will happen again... Robinsons. Part of Wimbledon since 1935." Stirring stuff.
PC World (3) has decided to use its TV budget to make TV ads, not newspaper price ads on TV. Hoorah! The ad features a revolving talking head, which transforms into different heads representing different movie moments as he carries on talking, saying: "My world is movies." He goes on to explain how he can download films from his PC to his home cinema (that's a TV to us girls). The final turn of the head reveals a rather gratuitous movie star cameo in the form of Christian Slater (that's the ex-Mr Jimmy Choo to us girls), saying: "Whatever your world. PC World." It's not the best TV ad in the world, but it is doing what TV does so well - it is making an emotional connection in a way that the old print on TV campaign just couldn't.
Cute girl walks into a bar and orders "five Brothers (4)". Six blokes overhear her, and in a bid to answer her wish, elbow one of their mates out of the way while frantically changing into matching shirts, wigs and facial hair. With a withering look, she dismisses the five brothers in favour of her five bottles of Brothers pear cider and turns on her heel, and in doing so throws away 50 years of TV advertising craft. Not a great ad for TV advertising.
At this point, I am really warming to my TV theme when along come some pesky posters for Smooth Radio (2), and cock it all up. So pardon me for the minor detour. Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing I like more than a good poster but this is nothing like a good poster. It is a continuation of its album cover campaign. The one where album covers are held up to complete the picture, in a hopefully mildly amusing way. In this case, Mick Hucknall is seen on the album, and appears to be sat on top of a wheelie bin. The line is "lose yourself in Smooth Radio", but I'm not losing myself even though I'd be up for getting lost in Smoooooth Radio, particularly if it made me smiiiiile.
I'm going to end at the beginning, which is a good place to start. The perfect ad for advertising on TV. Adidas (6) tells us a wonderful football fairytale. One of a young boy who is struck by an electric spark from a cable in a freak accident. That boy grows up with a spark in his feet. That boy grows up to be Lionel Messi. The story is narrated by Zinedine Zidane, a dark figure who explains how legend has it that "one night, a strange alchemy took place". I love this spot. It's made beautifully, it's dark, mysterious, thrilling, exhilarating. Everything a great TV ad should be. The craft lives on. The power of TV advertising assured.
MARKETING MANAGER - Daniel Ritterband, Marketing Manager for the Mayor of London
I'm often asked what made me leave advertising (six years at Saatchi & Saatchi) to try to help politicians get elected (Michael Howard and David Cameron in 2005 and Boris Johnson in 2008). The facetious answer is: "In what other industry could I find even greater levels of bullshit?"
The truth, if I'm honest, is that at that time, the Tory Party had not yet grasped that a voter is a conditioned consumer and needs to be treated as such. No good having a load of policies if you don't know how to communicate their benefits.
I'm then usually accused of spin and blamed for the downfall of our once fine institutions (I think the past few weeks have proved that our politicians have got that one pretty much covered).
A politician needs to make an emotional and rational connection with the electorate, just like you good people in adland do every day with your brands. Sadly, although to your credit, the average citizen spends significantly more time weighing up which car or insurance to purchase than they do selecting which candidate to vote for. I know our politicians have not had their finest hour of late, but the decisions they make on our behalf are too important to be left to a handful of political anoraks.
The first ad is reminiscent of the early Sky Movies campaigns, so it is a great piece of repositioning for PC World (3). Long gone are the chintzy "lowest possible prices spots", now we even have a genuine Hollywood celebrity for true movie credibility. There is a bit of "whoops dear, your strategy is showing" going on (focus groups tell us that a barrier to people - especially women - from watching movies online is having to watch on a small computer screen). But a clear and effective narrative explains how PC World can help. A successful move out of the hardware retail advertising sector into the entertainment division.
Another epic from Adidas (6). We're now so used to the high-octane, dramatic and beautifully shot films, featuring the world's greatest players and sharpest soundtracks, that anything less from Adidas would be a disappointment. And this film is far from disappointing. Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi are our superstars, moody Buenos Aires sets the perfect scene. Don't care too much for the boot, but gotta love the brand.
You know it's the tennis time of the year when Robinsons (1) hits you with some sentimental, motherhood and apple pie comms. Saying that, I did come over all patriotic by the time of the silent scream, so job done I guess.
Thinkbox (5). Sad really... clinging on to yesteryear. You don't need 30-second TV ads to break a brand, you need an idea. And using 30-second TV ads to sell you the idea of using 30-second TV ads is just barking. Don't waste your cash with huge media spends. Work harder and micro-target your consumers. Go digital. It also screams a bit of desperation. I'm sure creatives and media buyers the world over want to make more TV spots. But until the clients have the cash, we're going to see more reruns, mash-ups and plenty of TV abstinence.
So, right when they say the simplest ideas are the best - it's Smooth Radio (2). A well-positioned album sleeve, standing out from a black-and-white background, with a big bright call to action and logo. Only thing to really take issue with would be the use of Simply Red... now that is just bad taste.
Fork handles... Four candles... The Two Ronnies, and countless other less talented comedians over the past 30 years, have done double entendres better than this ad for Brothers (4). In fact, it's not even double entendre, it's just a bit naff. But then I'm guessing that the target audience is hen nights and girls' nights out, so naff is probably right on the mark.
Project: Wimbledon "imagine"
Client: Lesley Davey, brands director, Britvic Robinsons
Brief: Robinsons and Wimbledon celebrating the best of British
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Daniel Schafer
Art director: Szymon Rose
Director: Benito Montorio
Production company: Blink
2. SMOOTH RADIO
Project: Sleeve place
Client: Anna Tingey, marketing manager, Smooth Radio
Brief: Present Smooth Radio as the perfect place to escape from the
current doom and gloom by showcasing the kind of music it plays
Agency: Dye Holloway Murray
Writer: Ollie Wolf
Art director: David Goss
Exposure: Outdoor, print
3. PC WORLD
Project: Whatever your world
Client: PC World
Brief: Drive appraisal of the PC World brand
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Will Bate
Art director: Curtis Brittles
Director: Olivier Gondry
Production company: Partisan
Project: Five brothers
Client: Brothers Drinks
Brief: Step change awareness of Brothers pear cider in 18- to
Art director: Contagious
Director: Paul Weiland
Production company: Weilands
Exposure: National TV
Project: 30 seconds
Agency: The Red Brick Road
Writer: Matt Lee
Art director: Pete Heyes
Director: Chris Palmer
Production company: n/s
Project: The spark
Client: Levin Reyher, senior global communications manager, Adidas
Agency: 180 Amsterdam
Writer: Peter Albores
Art director: Martin Terhart
Director: Rupert Sanders
Production company: MJZ