The late, great Bill Hicks once asked an audience: "Is there anyone here from advertising or marketing?" A few unfortunate people gingerly raised their hands and, without blinking, Bill continued: "Kill yourself. This is not a joke, kill yourself. You are fucked and you are fucking us."
While most people's reaction to us ad folk isn't quite that extreme, it's true we don't enjoy the greatest of reputations. However, every now and then a piece of work comes along that reminds us what a brilliant business this is, powered by some wonderful people. The new Cancer Research UK (1) commercial from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO is such a piece.
The people involved in this project have put all ego or quest for personal glory to one side and poured their heart and soul into making a great ad. It's simple, touching and if you love anyone at all on this funny old planet of ours, you can't help but be moved.
We often talk about brave work but the people and performances in this ad give that phrase new meaning. The naysayers (and there will be some, usually working in not very good agencies, with even poorer reels) will say things such as "what's the idea?" or "I've seen that dialogue/editing technique before", but not being able to appreciate this ad is their loss.
Well done to the writers, director, client and everyone involved - you've done a job you can be very proud of. The best way to show your appreciation for this ad is to make a donation to Cancer Research. The number you need is 0800 038 2000. I'll race you.
The new Orange (4) ad also has a big, positive idea behind it. The scheme is called RockCorps and it's a simple programme where you can volunteer to do work, such as redecorating the community, and you get free gig tickets in return. You paint, then you paint the town red. The ad itself is nicely cast and shot, with a cool, can-do feel to it.
If the first two pieces of work do a good deal to enhance the reputation of adland, then the latest Gatwick Airport (5) posters knock it back a peg or two. The line is: "Don't leave without a good buy." The buttock-clenching nature of the pun aside, the real problem with the campaign is the hammy visuals. The "plane people" make all the products look like Action Man accessories and, consequently, anything but a good buy.
Fresh from their appearances in the Harvey Nichols campaign, Wallace and Gromit are now lending their support to npower (6). The dynamic duo are as charming as ever.
And to finish, two pieces of digital work. The first is a Philips (3) "sextalk" website. It opens with a couple, made from naughty words, getting down and dirty. Roll over and you're told how many times the word has been Twittered that day. There's also a European sex survey. All this effort is to promote the Philips sensual massager. To me, it looks like the seat of a racing bike, but whatever turns you on, I guess. Overall, I found the site a little slow and unsexy. Not what they were aiming for, I suspect.
Doritos (2) has created an elaborate, interactive web adventure. The game is split into three time-released episodes, where players can choose their own adventure and update their "lives" using unique codes from promotional Doritos packs. It feels like an awful lot of effort for very little reward.
The work has decent production values but, to me, it's simply not a credible experience from the brand. I found the trailers lacked the necessary intrigue or punch to pull me in, particularly when you compare them with the drama and energy of computer games.
Hopefully I'm wrong and people will be playing in their droves. Unlikely, I suspect, and I'll stake my reputation on that.
CLIENT - Gwyn Burr, customer director, Sainsbury's
An interesting selection of ads this week.
Starting with Orange (4) RockCorps' "stand up and be counted" - a really fantastic initiative. In a nutshell, you give up four hours of your time helping with a local community project and in return you get to go to an exclusive gig of a lifetime. The TV ad is cool with great music and a cast of 286 volunteers set against a background of their regeneration achievements.
The campaign will surely appeal to its target audience of 16- to 24- year-olds. If you go to its website you get a real sense of what the project has achieved so far and what you can do to help - it creates far more excitement than the TV ad by itself.
The npower (6) ad also excites. As the target customer for this work, I think the use of the Wallace and Gromit duo is a winner. True, they are fronting an unpopular brand in an unpopular sector right now. As a Northern girl, who has avidly consumed all their films with her children, I have a huge affection for them and this really helps enlighten and engage a pretty dull product proposition. The work is memorable and the communication of price and simplicity is there. Overall, a grand piece of work, Gromit!
It's horrendous flying by plane these days unless you have your own jet and are not subjected to hours of endless queuing, so I'm not sure how impactful the latest print for Gatwick Airport (5) will be as it tries to encourage travellers to do their shopping at the airport instead of buying everything beforehand.
It's sweet and pretty to look at, but I'm not sure it works hard enough to encourage you to wait until you get there to buy everything you need for your holiday. Most people nowadays like to get the nightmare of shopping and packing done well before they set off for the airport, so all they have to worry about is if their flight will be on time.
While I could be accused of bias as the next up, the Cancer Research UK (1) ad, is created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, I have to say it's fabulous on many levels. The ad features many real-life cancer patients and explores that moment we all dread when the doctor says: "You've got cancer."
The message that this can and does happen to so many people comes over clearly. The broader impact of the disease on "children, mum, dad, daughter" is again clearly conveyed. That thousands of people beat cancer with the help of Cancer Research UK is very positive, while the message that all do not is tastefully and heart renderingly communicated.
I watched the ad over and over to write this piece and every time I welled up. Strong communication, a clear call to arms - I hope many hear the message and take action.
I'm afraid I just struggled with the next piece of work. The viral campaign for the Philips (3) sensual massager left me cold. Who is the target audience for this? When logging on to the website you find a site with risque words such as "group", "crazy" and "rough". Hovering over them you see various Tweets that have used the word - so what?
Clicking through to the Philips product site brings you to a boring page with the heading: "Philips - sense and simplicity." As my husband said, great for low-energy lightbulbs, but sex toys - I think not. I'm afraid this doesn't really work and lack of clear targeting and poor format usage renders the work somewhat underwhelming.
Finally, I get to take part in an interactive online adventure with Doritos (2) where I must uncover the truth behind a case of mistaken identity. It is set in London's shady underworld and allows you to become the hero in your very own "choose your adventure".
You can win prizes along the way and if you guess the mystery flavour of the crisps you could win £20k, so it's definitely worth a go! It is really well done and spot-on for the Doritos target audience who will love being in the driving seat of their very own adventure.
1. CANCER RESEARCH UK
Project: Cancer Research UK brand campaign
Client: Carolan Davidge, director of brand and PR, Cancer Research UK
Brief: Raise awareness that thousands of people are surviving cancer
thanks to Cancer Research UK
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer/art director: Dave Buchanan
Director: Joanna Bailey
Production company: Bare Films
Exposure: TV, online, radio, posters, in-store
Project: Doritos iD3
Clients: Pete Charles, marketing manager; Adam Warner, assistant brand
Art director: n/a
Director: Lucas Howe
Production company: n/a
Client: Hubert Grealish, programme leader, integrated marketing comms,
Philips Consumer Lifestyle
Brief: Add a digital word-of-mouth element to the PR strategy
Agency: Glue London
Writer: James Leigh
Art director: Darren Giles
Directors: Dan Griffiths, Victor Woode, Raphael Campos
Project: Orange RockCorps
Client: Spencer McHugh, brand marketing director, Orange
Brief: Celebrate the achievements of the Orange RockCorps volunteers and
show that together we can do more
Writer: Joe De Souza
Art director: Sam Walker
Director: Dougal Wilson
Production company: Blink
Exposure: National TV
5. GATWICK AIRPORT
Project: Gatwick summer campaign
Clients: Patricia Conway, Gatwick marketing, research; Sandrine
Desbarbieux, Gatwick Airport, marketing development, BAA
Brief: Get people to think of Gatwick as a great place for shopping, not
just a great place to fly from
Agency: Naked Communications
Writer: David Feldman
Art director: Adam Fish
Exposure: Print, outdoor, online, panels, escalator panels
Clients: Kevin Peake, marketing director; Joan Coe, head of brand,
Brief: Show that npower's Home Team makes efficiency easy with home
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writers: Nick Parkin, Merlin Crossingham, Bil Bungay, James Loxley
Art directors: Bil Bungay, James Loxley
Director: Merlin Crossingham
Production company: Aardman
Exposure: National TV