The Work: Private View


I recently watched a programme called Punk: Attitude. Besides conjuring up images of my mis-spent youth, it made me realise how much of a punk attitude our industry needs right now.

Now this might sound like a contradiction, considering punk's anti-Establishment ethos, but it might just give us that long overdue creative revolution we've been waiting for and a new approach to how we say things and get people involved.

Now you may be saying to yourselves, what's this pseudo-punk Greek boy going on about? Johnny Rotten's doing butter ads and Iggy Pop's selling insurance. Punk died years ago and many of its heroes are already admen.

Mine's the bigger point. As the title of the film suggests, it's about attitude, which the commercial from Aviva (5) completely lacks. Phil tells how it's a bit of a struggle supporting his team with the price of petrol, in an effort to flog us car insurance. It's a pretty inoffensive spot. Nothing really wrong with it, kind of funny. More Lulu than Lou Reed. I know who I'd rather be listening to.

So how "punk" are the rest of this week's choices? Is this work that, at first, might make people feel uncomfortable but will end up defining popular culture and leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come? The MC5 and the New York Dolls don't do advertising, but if they did, it would probably be the best advertising in the world.

Virgin Media (2) has produced a spot that sums up the cinema experience of discovery, surprise and amazement. And this ad is pretty amazing. The effects are seamless and they gradually build to a crescendo of punk proportions when a cop car turns into a UFO that'd make Ziggy Stardust blush. The story's been told many times before, but not nearly as spectacularly.

ESPN (6) could take a hint or two from the home of punk - CBGB in New York City. A poster tells me how "it's great to be here" while showing two blokes at a real football match. Anyone who's been fortunate enough to go to a live Premier League game knows that seeing it on the television just doesn't come close. So don't even go there. It's like saying that seeing a band such as Television on the television is just like seeing them in the flesh at the famous NYC venue.

The Orange (3) animation is quite sweet although it takes a while to get to the good bit about free holidays. It feels cool and is full of rich vibrant colours, kind of like the fashion designs of punk queen Vivienne Westwood.

"Give those Os a go." Now, at first glance you may confuse this new Cheerios (4) strapline with the opening line of a Ramones track, but that's where the similarities end. The ad continues to stuff your brain with dozens of repetitive "Os", leaving me no choice but to simply say: "Naaah."

Now it's time to see the band that we've all come here for tonight and it's no less than the "people's car" people - Volkswagen (1). Admittedly known more for their engineering than their pogoing, they always seem to put on a pretty good show. In this case, a series of idents feature "the BlueMotion elephants", "the flying monkey gear boxes" and the recently reformed "super rocket TDIs". They're all playing a series of gigs to support the VW efficiency tour and have been getting rave reviews. They've taken a punk approach to plugging their economic technologies and, as a result, have made some entertaining little films.

There it is. Loads of television and some outdoor. Some more punk than others. The more punk the better. But nothing to compare to the Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall. Nothing that people are really going to talk about.

In the words of Joe Strummer: "I think we're going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word-of-mouth."


RD: Ay up.

SH: Ay up.

RD: I know what to say at this point ... "Let's jump straight in."

SH: Can't believe you just said that. Let's start with Orange (3) and Fallon.

RD: Shit. We're stuck between T-Mobile and Robert Senior on this one.

SH: What colour does that make?

RD: "Maginger." Now press play, this will be good.

SH: Play it again so I can get it.

RD: A hairy egg, a lightbulb, a robot ...

SH: Prizes, a jack-in-the-box, annoying noises ...

RD: They're all top-ups! I win.

SH: "I am a smile when you least expect it."

RD: I am disappointed when you least expect it.

ESPN (6). Best thing about reviewing this is that it means Satan-fucking-Sports is dead.

SH: Setanta Sports. Chill out. I like the line, "it's great to be here", those crafty Yanks have snuck in at the last minute and pinched a few of our beloved Premier League matches just to sell them back to us. It's just a shame the ad doesn't build on the line and instead uses something that could be a generic stock shot.

RD: Next is eBay.

SH: No, it's Vauxhall.

RD: Hang on, it's Cheerios (4).

SH: Oooooooooooohhh ...

RD: Client must be happy with the product shot. Is that a slow-motion shot of the spoon tossing Cheerios into the air? It is a very charming animation and you can't help but like the little buggers. Especially the cute blue one at the end.

SH: Sugar Puff.

Aviva (5) has been using stars left, right and centre and this one's no different. Step up Paul Whitehouse to fill Bruce's shoes.

RD: Basically it's about a guy who picks up his mates on the way to a football match and then talks endlessly about his car insurance.

SH: So much so they all fall asleep.

RD: Or maybe they're pretending to be asleep so they don't have to listen to their mate's car insurance story?

SH: Who knows. But the character isn't one of Whitehouse's best performances. His Plymouth accent is annoying and somewhat unfathomable at times and the offer is getting lost among the babble. Let's watch Die Hard 4.0.

RD: Speaking of films, Virgin Media (2) is helping us discover a world of entertainment.

SH: Nice segue. This is stunningly shot and accompanied by a wonderfully enchanting soundtrack, in fact it's the most beautiful mood film I've ever seen.

RD: It just feels that you could have had so much fun with the power to bring absolutely anything to life. It is beautifully shot though.

SH: Volkswagen (1) never disappoints. I've seen the print for this efficiency campaign and it made me raise a smile on the misery line.

RD: Good idents are hard to come by and these are probably better than the programme they're straddling. Well-written. Well-shot. Makes you smile. The best ones make you laugh.

SH: I'm jealous.

RD: Agreed.

Project: Channel 4 efficiency idents
Client: Daniel Hill, Volkswagen communications manager, Volkswagen
Brief: Communicate Volkswagen's four core efficient technologies: direct
shift gearbox, TSI, TDI and BlueMotion
Agency: DDB London
Writers/art directors: Hunter Somerville, Graeme Hall
Director: Neil Harris
Production company: Smuggler
Exposure: TV

Project: Backlot
Client: Ashley Stockwell, executive director for brand and marketing,
Virgin Media
Brief: n/s
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Gethin Stout
Art director: Richard Bridgland
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production company: Rattling Stick
Exposure: TV

Project: Bright top-ups
Client: Spencer McHugh, brand director, Orange
Brief: Show that topping up is more fun with Orange pay as you go, with
a chance to win a prize every time
Agency: Fallon
Writer: Tony Miller
Art director: Gary Anderson
Director: Steve Small
Production company: Studio AKA
Exposure: TV

Project: Give those Os a go
Clients: Ronnie Parry, marketing director; Whitney Velasco-Aznar,
marketing controller; Manjit McGovern, product group manager; Craig
Turner, senior brand manager; Sarah Applebee, assistant brand manager,
Brief: Encourage people to try eating Cheerios
Agency: McCann Erickson
Writer/art director: John Hurst
Director: Stefan Marjoram
Production company: Aardman Animation
Exposure: National TV

Project: Aviva direct insurance
Client: David Tyers, director of marketing, Aviva
Brief: Communicate that Aviva recognises the deal hunter in everybody
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Dave Buchanan
Art director: Mike Hannett
Director: Declan Lowney
Production company: HSI
Exposure: National TV

Project: ESPN UK channel launch
Client: ESPN
Brief: n/s
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Writer: Lee Hempstock
Art director: Chris Landy
Exposure: Press, outdoor