"What are you doing?" seems to be the question of the moment. Well, let's have a look at what these brands are doing and find out how interesting they're being. Will people start following?
Nike (5) has millions of followers already and rightly so, having created some of the most engaging communications ever. Not sure this latest viral will have the same effect, though. It encourages fans to tell each other their ambitions for the season. I'm just not sure how interesting that can be.
The dialogue from the Man Utd and Arsenal players is very predictable and ends with Andrey Arshavin's "sssshh". This has to be the most annoying goal celebration ever. Let's hope it will be kept to a minimum this season. Number of extra followers: minimal.
Next is Sony (6). Another brand that already has a huge following thanks to some iconic communications in the past. This one features Alice Cooper and is a simple story about rock stars who throw TVs out of the window. They shouldn't do it now because they can trade it in for a discount on a new one.
A good idea to express a workman-like proposition and I enjoyed it. The off-camera voiceover at the start was a bit blunt; someone must have thought: let's get the branding and proposition in at the front in case people tune out. They could have been a bit braver since the ad was pretty entertaining and I would have been happy to keep following and find out what was going on.
The Heinz (3) viral/website that came up next was a bit harder to follow. There seemed to be an idea about people with secret abilities, such as being able to identify the colour of cars from the engine noise or a dog that can smell true love.
A lot of effort has gone into all this and it was only mildly entertaining. It was a bit of a stretch to make it relevant to the brand or the products and it felt like two different websites welded together. There's an idea about the versatility of the sauces in there somewhere but it's all a bit messy really. Not clear what kind of audience would want to start following and it's nowhere near as engaging as the recent Heinz Tomato Ketchup TV ad.
No messing about with the next one. "Trebor (4) now makes gum", this one tells me in an extra strong way. It could have made more of the "why haven't we done it before" angle, which was sacrificed for the more straightforward message.
A bit reminiscent of the Barclays campaign where a young employee comes up with blindingly obvious but good ideas. The ad did get my attention and no-one could miss the proposition, which is literally shoved into the middle of the ad.
The next communique is from Tombola (1). Without the luxury of a long viral film to play with, this one is neat and simple and done by a team who understand what you can do in a small space. I didn't particularly like it, but you have to admire the efficiency of the message. It's bingo, and you can win prizes. You couldn't miss who it was from either, since the whole thing was set in a place called Tombola.
Last of all, a DM piece from Zurich (2). Forget about all this new-fangled digital nonsense, let's send someone a letter. I'm afraid this one would have gone straight in the bin if it had landed on my doorstep. It very helpfully told me it was from an insurance company on the front. No attempt to engage here, just the name of the brand on a dull white envelope. Inside: a blank letter to get the environmentalists screaming. It may end up attracting the wrong kind of follower.
CREATIVE - Gavin Gordon-Rogers, executive creative director, Agency Republic
Advertising folk tend to be renowned for suffering from a multitude of capricious vices, but none of them are as virulent as the talking of bollocks. Bollocks-talking can strike without warning.
Product not especially interesting? Client looking the other way? I hear the faint tintinnabulation of bollocks approaching over the hillside. We must beware the temptation of the bollocks, for "the people" are constantly vigilant. Because of their mistrust, our societal rank is way low down, down with lawyers and ... bankers. And this saddens me.
Trebor (4). Now here's a case in point. This ad is funny, well cast, made me laugh. But I'm laughing at Trebor, not with it. Trebor now makes gum. The message comes through clearly enough but what could possibly have convinced the agency let alone the client to launch a new product on the premise that a trainee dreamt it up on the spur of the moment at a press conference is beyond me. There is a significant quantity of bollocks being conveyed here, leaving me a tad bewildered. Perhaps future ads will elucidate.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Zurich (2) DM piece is pleasantly free from the whiff of bull, perhaps because the concept is so perfectly, simply dedicated to not saying anything at all. On the bollocksometer, this scores a perfect zero, making it my pick of the week.
I do wish we could find a descriptor of film content made for online consumption other than "viral". How about "film content made for online consumption"? Whatever, these Nike (5) clips will not go especially viral, but they are nice films that valiantly attempt to mine some expression of passion out of a handful of the world's most overpaid athletes. Working with these non-marketing types isn't easy and the agency has done a good job of avoiding bollocks talk by getting the footballers to do it for them.
The Heinz (3) campaign illustrates the "secret ability" of some of Heinz's best-selling sauces via some film content made for online consumption, housed in a dedicated campaign microsite. By God, I'm talking bollocks. Sorry about that, must keep my guard up. This is a well-executed study in taking a product truth and bollocksifying it into something more interesting. The films are enjoyable, spurious and Coventry. Good fun to make, no doubt; whether the public will make any connection between them and Heinz sauces' special abilities is anyone's guess.
Perhaps this is the correct time to point out that I've only viewed each piece of work once. My assessment is based on long-term memory, which is the transition from electrical impulses looping a network of neurons into a more permanent physical change in the brain, either structurally or chemically.
From what I can remember, the Sony (6) ad was all about Alice Cooper throwing TVs out of hotel room windows. Or rather not doing that, because you can trade them in for Sony TVs. What stayed with me most of all in my chemically altered brain was the inevitable reek of "I was paid a lot of money to say this bollocks" tainting an otherwise amusing, effective ad. I also recall enjoying the remote control injuries suffered by the roadie.
Ola Tombola. What was Tombola (1) again? Some sort of gambling thing - or, wait, was it a paradise island? I do remember that there was a swimming pool, and happy people under palm trees. Like they were all rich, living the high life. Therefore, I deduce that the ad was probably saying "play Tombola and you'll be living the high life". What a load of ...
We are grey matter sculptors. When we make an ad, we're permanently altering the structure of the public's brains. Let's not sculpt them into bollocks.
Project: Ola Tombola
Brief: Recruit new players to the UK's number-one online bingo
destination - Tombola.co.uk
Agency: Euro RSCG London
Writer: Ben Clapp
Art director: Russell Schaller
Director: David Lodge
Production company: RSA Films
Project: Opt-in mailing
Client: Ben Randall, customer development manager, Zurich
Brief: Encourage Zurich opt-outs to opt back in to receiving marketing
communications from the brand
Agency: Publicis Dialog
Writer: Ian Sweeney
Art director: Mark Buckingham
Project: Secret abilities
Client: Ross Longton, brand manager, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, Heinz
Brief: Drive sauces consumption and loyalty by demonstrating that sauces
can be used as ingredients in meals
Agencies: Grand Union, Hubbub
Writer: Dom Moira
Art director: Kieron Roe
Project: Trebor - the mint people
Clients: Phil Rumbol, marketing director, Cadbury; Clare Tasker, senior
brand manager, Trebor
Brief: Repackage the Trebor Extra Strong brand, for a chewing-gum launch
Writers/art directors: Matt Keon, Nils-Petter Lovgren, Emily Cussins
Director: Steve Bendelack
Production company: Spank
Project: T90 Ascente
Client: Simon Owen, brand connections football manager, Nike
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
Writer: Darren Wright
Art director: Stuart Harkness
Director: Jaime Thraves
Production company: Factory Film
Project: Rockstar - raider of the lost art
Clients: Matt Coombe, Carl Prin, Sony
Brief: Launch the new TV trade-in scheme and promote the three-year
Art director: n/s
Director: George Hickenlooper
Production company: Epoch