From this week's work it seems like a new craze is sweeping the business. It's called the 60-seconds-long-and-all-cut-to-music ad. It was a bit like judging the pop promo category at D&AD. Obviously the media companies are getting great deals these days. The first thing I noticed was how similar they all looked. Not sure this is a good thing.
My favourite, though, is Budweiser (5). An entertaining piece of film, showing people coming together to spell out numbers and letters. The direction is very quirky and reminds me of the great Jim Blashfield. The creative team scores extra points in resisting the temptation - and all pleas from the account people - to spell out the letters of the brand.
Tony Kaye used to say that music was at least 51 per cent of a commercial and in some cases 85 per cent. This is nudging 86 per cent. In these hard times, I guess The Beatles' original track All Together Now proved too much for the coffers of Budweiser, but this cover by The Hours doesn't disappoint. My only question is, what does it say about the brand? That people come together to drink Budweiser? Heeey, you don't say.
The Association of Train Operating Companies (6) takes its inspiration from that great film Amelie. It follows the path of a garden gnome who goes AWOL as he (I guess it's a he: I've never seen a garden gnomette) travels around the train network for a day with his gnome boys. It's fun to watch, which has more than a little to do with the music, Alright by Supergrass. Which pretty much sums up the ad.
Audi (3) gives us a stylish-looking black-and-white film demonstrating its "start-stop" technology, dreamily edited to Jimmy Reed's bluesy track Bright Lights, Big City. Apparently, the engine cuts out every time the car stops. To dramatise this we see a busy road at night, the twist being that all the cars are giant lightbulbs.
The "Audi-bulb", however, switches off at traffic lights and junctions etc. It's a neat idea, although not so neat if it means your headlamps get cut off as well, which could be a problem if you don't want to ... well, if you don't want to have your headlamps switched off in the dark. It's also slightly reminiscent of the one they did with giant fish a few years back. Still, if it ain't broke ...
The latest commercial for The Economist (2) is potentially a good one. A wire-walker negotiates his way along a series of tightropes stretched over a city, jumping from one to the other as he gets higher and higher. Presumably he's higher-minded? The problem for me is, I can't help comparing it to that brilliant film Man On Wire and thinking, that was done for real. Was this? Also, the endline: "Let your mind wander." Surely The Economist is all about bringing your mind into sharp focus? Cool music and sound design, though.
Samsung (1) plumps for the Lamb And The Lion by The Mae Shi, with James McAvoy telling us how people "wait their lives away". It's a well-written monologue and, about 30 seconds in, the film changes pace to that of spontaneity and a "just do it" attitude. It's funny, it's raunchy, it's entertaining. Any brand could go here, I suppose, but maybe that's just a minor quibble in this age of product-a-likes searching for "something new to say".
Finally, Pants to Poverty (4). Different from the others reviewed here as it has minimal music and is three times longer. It's about a creature called the "panteater". I tried to go to the website it was advertising, but after typing in "pantyeater" by mistake, the firewall at M&C Saatchi was having none of it. My take on virals is, if it isn't passed on, it isn't a viral. And I can't see anyone passing this one on. It's a shame as it's not without its nice touches.
PLANNER - Ivan Pollard, media planner, Naked Communications
We live in brilliant times. Times of possibilities, times of change, times of connectedness, times of magnificent stuff that we all take for granted.
Forty years ago this week, some guys stood on the moon and I watched thinking it was incredible that I could see those first steps on a TV set in my primary school, which I calculated to be roughly 232, 735.2 miles away from the action. If that was incredible, imagine what I would make of all the wonderful things we can do today.
One of the things we can do today is something very ancient. Communicate ideas through brilliant storytelling. Stories are woven into human history - our past and our future. One of the best things we ever invented for storytelling is film and one of the best ways of creating stories through film is to ask an ad agency.
Boy, did I get lucky with Private View this week. Six films, six stories, six great agencies and I could wear my NASA suit while watching them and not feel weird.
First up, a homage to Amelie with happy gnomes on a day trip. The Association of Train Operating Companies (6) spot is uplifting, to the point, nicely done and it imparted a sense of fun, which is very important if you are trying to convince people to get on a train and spend the day playing crazy golf somewhere like Hastings. I liked it - even if it was simple.
Then Budweiser (5) and The Hours on a New York train with things happening out the window relating to the lyrics. Intriguing, watchable, entertaining and it left me feeling nicely refreshed. Not sure I wanted a beer afterwards (gaseous drinks and wearing spacesuits is never a good combination). But I liked it - even if it was tangential.
Coming in third is the Audi (3) commercial for its energy-saving wizardry. As soon as I saw it, I got it. Oh, those clever Bartle Bogle Hegarty folk. Simple, clever, beautifully executed and obviously an Audi ad. It made me get up and turn off all the lights. And I liked it - even if I don't like cars.
Is it childish of me to wait to talk about Samsung (1) until now? Again, maybe I am a little easy to please and lack depth but I enjoy it when you can see the planners thinking in that nice coffee bar in Grey. A fast phone contrasted with the angst of waiting. Throw in a definition of "impatience" using the hasty removal of garments, snogging in swimming pools and scantily clad boys and girls copping off and I was in. Get me a phone now. Right now. I like it - it gives a rational justification for premature ejaculation.
And then the "panteater"? A viral film. I squirm when I see something described as a "viral" these days. Problem is, we are all becoming immune. To infect you and spread, it either has to be absolutely brilliant or someone has to run up, sneeze all over you and then stick you with a needle. For me, this fell short. If the idea was to get me to the Pants to Poverty (4) website, they had lost me way before then. I wanted to like it - but I didn't. And I won't make the obvious joke.
And, finally, The Economist (2). Man On Wire reinterpreted in Budapest. Now, I will admit to not being the brightest in the bunch but I didn't get it. "Let your mind wander" as the pay-off to 60 seconds of Monsieur Blondeau concentrating like crazy as he wandered to no purpose? I am sure I am being a Philistine and I bet others think it highly creative but I was confused by it - sometimes stories are better told on posters.
Brilliant times indeed. We have come a long way since 1969 but the things they were doing on Madison Avenue back then are still alive and kicking today. Long live brilliant advertising.
Project: Impatience is a virtue
Client: Mikah Martin-Cruz, marketing director, Samsung Electronics
Brief: Position the new Jet phone as the choice of people who live fast
and full lives
Agency: Grey London
Writer/art director: Grey London
Director: Neil Gorringe
Production company: Moxie Pictures
Exposure: TV, press, poster, digital, retail
2. THE ECONOMIST
Project: Red wires
Client: The Economist
Brief: Explore a world of connections
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Milo Campbell
Art director: Sonny Adorjan
Director: Tom Carty
Production company: Gorgeous
Project: Start-stop: economy drive
Clients: Peter Duffy, head of marketing; James Millett, comms manager,
Brief: Spell out Audi's Vorsprung durch Technik philosophy by showcasing
Audi's start-stop technology
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Adi Birkinshaw
Art director: Paul Yull
Production company: Stink
4. PANTS TO POVERTY
Project: The panteater
Client: Ben Ramsden, founder, Pants to Poverty
Brief: Raise awareness of the bad practices adopted in the manufacture
of a huge amount of the cotton underwear we wear
Agency: Leo Burnett
Writer: Ollie Kristian
Art director: Christen Brestrup
Director: Lorrin Braddick
Production company: One Small Step
Exposure: Online, events
Client: Garbhan O'Bric, head of marketing comms, Diageo Ireland,
Brief: Budweiser. Unite
Agency: DDB London
Writer: Dave Henderson
Art director: Richard Denney
Director: James Broomfield
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: TV, online
Clients: Southeastern, c2c, National Express East Anglia, South West
Trains, First Group, Southern, Chiltern
Brief: Inspire people to go on a day out by train this summer
Writer: Joseph Corcoran
Art director: Andrew Bloom
Director: David Boni
Production company: Hungry Man