There's a quote I love that comes from Kenneth Tynan when he was the theatre critic at The Ob- server. At the time, he was in competition with the critic of The Sunday Times and he wrote about "the characteristic sound of an English Sunday breakfast, Harold Hobson barking up the wrong tree".
It was, of course, totally unfair - Hobson discovered great playwrights whom Tynan overlooked. But, you know, who cares, really?
So I'm going to split my reviews into FC (fair comment) and TUD (Tynanesque Unfair Dig). You take your pick, depending on your mood.
TalkTalk (1). TUD - The characteristic dull thud of another surprisingly underwhelming ad. If your client is your best mate, surely you can get out better stuff than this? FC - A charming little film, which will doubtless build the Carphone empire. Love the music.
Land Rover (4). TUD - The characteristic dull echo of an ad agen-cy only managing to sell an idea to a client by showing them a YouTube clip of how someone else has already done it. FC - an intriguing and involving film, well executed, with resonances of a brilliant YouTube clip directed by Takeuchi Taijin.
Department for Transport (6). TUD - The characteristic "boing" of another ad that's supposed to be anti-drugs actually making you want to have more of them. FC - This beautifully made film of bug-eyed druggies commissioned by the transport secretary, Lord Adonis, is a really strong visual idea that will haunt the target market.
PS. What kind of name is Lord Adonis? I thought they were saving that one up for Johnny Hornby.
Sky Sports (2). TUD - The characteristic clunk of Sky doing an ad with exactly the same look and voiceover as everybody else's. FC - I do really believe that Sky has a genuine passion for football.
Jessops (5). TUD - The characteristic squeak of an ad agency thinking all it's got to do is piggy-back something topical and it'll pick up some minor press award. But you've got to ask - what is it all about? Have they got anti-squirrel film at Jessops then? Or what? Get a grip. What the f*ck are they saying? FC - It's a funny picture.
Visit Sweden (3). FC - Very funny. Very distinctive. Very brave. It's a sticky idea that keeps you looking for the next execution. It's also got a very nice strategy - go to the beaches of Sweden and avoid w*nkers like this obnoxious Brit.
Haven't got a TUD on this one. Sorry.
SUIT - Garry Lace, co-founder, Campbell Lace Beta
Great ideas have always shared three things. Truth, meaning and promise. Courtesy of my new friend, Mr Beattie, who is a very clever man at AKQA, I've recently added a fourth to this list, which is the ability for an idea to be shared. So, for this week's offering, I'm going to score each piece of work out of 100, with 25 points each being given for truth, meaning, promise and the ability to be shared. Our Private View Beta test, if you like.
TalkTalk (1) has recently told the nation that it is the brighter phone and broadband company. Given that I see a visual device more than I do an idea and given that the commercial doesn't really explain why TalkTalk is brighter, it receives 0/50 for truth and meaning because I can't detect either in its launch commercial. The word brighter, however, does offer me the promise of a company that is vibrant, energetic and constantly striving for new ideas. Having seen the X Factor idents on Saturday, I'd say there's a good dollop of ability for this idea to be shared. So it receives 50/50 for the last two measures. A fence-sitting 50/100 in total. Phew.
The next offering from Land Rover (4) has neither an idea, nor a truth, nor a meaning, nor does it offer any real promise for the consumer beyond a very dull finance deal. Given that the only basis on which I'd ever share this commercial is in a discussion about the worst car ads I've ever seen, I'm afraid it's 0/100. Robert will kill me. But then he'll remind me that this excellent agency also did the completely brilliant and utterly memorable 25-year Virgin commercial, which remains one of the ads of the decade.
Next we have a drug-drive commercial for the Department for Transport (6). Old Big Eyes is a fantastic idea that tells me straight away that the police will track me down if I try it on and a certain promise that I'll be nicked as well. It's bound to be shared because it's a fantastic idea, so raise your bat for this commercial because it's 100/100. Well done everyone involved.
The Jessops (5) tactical ad borrows interest from something that's already been shared around the world, which is that pesky animal that popped up in someone's photo. On that basis, I can't give it any marks for its ability to be shared because that's happened already. As far as the promise of this piece of work is concerned, I guess it does tell me that Jessops sells great products, although I'd be amazed if this retailer has developed something that automatically blanks out unwanted pesky animals from your photo. If Jessops has, fair play to it. So far, then, it's 0 for its ability to be shared and half marks for the promise. Does it mean anything? Possibly. Is it true? Absolutely no idea. So what are the scores on the doors, Brucie? 37.5/100.
The commercial telling me that Sky Sports (2) understands and cares about football just as much as I do is definitely true, because I witness on a weekly basis the quality and passion of its coverage. It does mean something to me and does offer me the promise of a channel that is going to constantly deliver my every footballing need. But, because the ad is too long and quite boringly executed, I'm going to have to take away marks for presentation. 75/75 so far therefore turns into 50/75. On the basis that this commercial is never likely to be shared by anyone in meaningful numbers, I can't give any marks for its ability to be shared. Grand total of 50/100.
Last but by no means least, a piece of pure brilliance for Visit Sweden (3) from those clever boys and girls at Glue. It's a great idea with real meaning, great promise and offers hope and love to all those who will see it. I, for one, have put Sweden on my list as a future holiday destination simply as a result of seeing this work. I've shared it with 20 of my closest friends (yes, I do have that many), so I'm scoring it full marks across the board. The best of this week's offering.
It's great to be back in the business. One of the things you learn when you spend time away from it is that it really is full of talented, clever and very funny people and that creativity, and the ability to come up with great ideas every day, really is the antidote to almost anything. Thank God I've got Robert.
Project: Britain's brighter phone and broadband company
Client: Olivia Streatfeild, marketing director, TalkTalk
Brief: Relaunch TalkTalk as the brighter phone and broadband company
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writers/art directors: Tom Skinner, Rick Stanley
Director: Noah Harris
Production company: Blink Productions
Exposure: Online, TV
2. SKY SPORTS
Project: Start of season
Client: David Murdin, director, sports and news marketing, Sky
Brief: Announce the start of the new football season on Sky Sports
Agency: Brothers and Sisters
Writers/art directors: Andy Fowler,
Mark Harris, Barry Skolnick
Directors: Mark Harris, Barry Skolnick
Production company: Brothers and Sisters
Exposure: Sky, terrestrial networks, outdoor, press, online
3. VISIT SWEDEN
Project: Dave goes to Skane
Client: Maria Johansson, marketing manager, Visit Sweden
Brief: Increase awareness of Skane, a region in Southern Sweden, to
young UK professionals who are seeking something different to your
average short break
Agency: Glue London
Writer: Lewis Raven
Art director: Adam King
Director/production company: 12foot6 Exposure: Online
4. LAND ROVER
Client: Dorian Leroy, Freelander & primary brand communications manager,
Brief: Develop an integrated global campaign that focuses on the
versatility and capability of the 2010 Freelander 2
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers/art directors: Graham Lang, Gethin Stout, Nick Flugge, Angie Ma
Director: Chris Carins
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: TV, online, press
Art director: n/s
6. TRANSPORT FOR LONDON
Project: Don't drug-drive
Client: Laura Durham, team head - adult road safety, Department for
Brief: Highlight that drug-drivers' eyes will give them away if they are
stopped by police
Agency: Leo Burnett London
Writers/art directors: Andy Drugan, Ed Morris
Director: Ringan Ledwidge
Production company: Rattling Stick
Exposure: National TV, online, press, outdoor, in-pub, in-game, music