A long-running study recently concluded that human beings derive happiness not from money or drugs or sex, but from relationships.
This epiphany will no doubt leave half the ad industry nodding glumly as they realise that's where they've been going wrong, while the other half nod sagely having long appreciated the value of meaningful relationships; with clients, staff, consumers and, should they ever make it home, family.
The findings might also offer a plausible explanation for those perplexed at the burgeoning numbers joining social networks.
People feel good when they talk to one another. When they share thoughts, experiences, ideas, opinions. And they now have the power to share them with everyone in the world, instantly.
It's long been argued that brands aren't owned by brand managers, they're owned by the consumer (an argument the web has once and for all put to rest). The same can now be said for advertising. We are losing "control" of our product. The likes of YouTube are proving to be a research tool more complete, powerful and far-reaching, not to mention cheaper, than anything Millward Brown could concoct. People are watching ads and sharing what they think of them. If they like them, they'll say why. Then they'll watch them again. And again. Then they'll tell everyone else to watch them. If they don't like them, they'll say why. And if they think of a better idea, they'll share that too. The smart clients and agencies are listening in to this chatter. And adapting their strategies accordingly. (If Lord Leverhulme were still around, he'd be rubbing his hands with glee. Finally a way to work out which half of his advertising is working, and perhaps get the other half working better too.)
With that in mind, rather than bleat on for ages in the usual one-way conversation, I thought we'd try something different. An experiment all those who'll still be enjoying a fruitful career in advertising five years hence might appreciate. Today Private View goes public.
I've Tweeted my thoughts on this week's work, so instead of being forced to sit there reading the ramblings of one opinionated idiot, you're free to enjoy the ramblings of numerous equally opinionated idiots and even add yours to theirs if you so desire.
I don't need to tell you how Twitter works (if you're not signed up yet, the numbers suggest you'll soon be Tweeting like loquacious chaffinches on speed). I've added hashtags to help you search for each of the Tweets and included links to the work so you can have a look at it too.
OK, here goes nothing. Or next to nothing. One hundred and forty characters is bugger all, let's face it. Sainsbury's (2) Jamie does what he does best. He's droivin rahnd Britain givin his public an 'appy Christmas. Noice. #privatetweetsains.
Toshiba (6) Beautiful images. Mainly makes you think "Ooh, Earth is pretty" & "Wasn't Sony's falling sofa good?" #privatetweettosh.
O2 (1) Digital gig poster on wall. I uploaded a photo & couldn't see it. Rather dull, uninspiring and un-O2. #privatetweet02.
John Lewis (3) Doesn't make me feel very Christmassy. Kids as adults well used idea but nicely shot & great track. #privatetweetjlewis.
Schweppes (4) 50s paintings of people at Christmas with real arms. Trying to be ho-ho but ends up a little ho-hum. #privatetweetschh.
Comparethemarket.com (5) Proves how much engagement is added by actually seeing the meerkat. And that The Hoff is no comedian. #privatetweetcomp.
Right. That's that. Let's see if anything happens. Ooh, it's as exciting as firing up the Large Hadron Collider. With the whole lot of us jointly owning the world's brands and their advertising, there's one question the popularity of social networks raises: who owns us? The answer would seem to be: we all do. That being the case, here's my wish for 2010: Let's be nice to us. We all deserve to be happy, don't we?
PLANNER - Lucy Jameson, executive strategy director, DDB London
Due to a scheduling nightmare of epic proportions, I've ended up reviewing these ads on a very dodgy internet connection in my hotel room in Rome at 11.30 at night, having eaten a dinner that included no less than seven different types of ice-cream-themed puddings with my Unilever ice-cream clients. So, it will be a real testament to any of the work if it manages to cut through the combination of indigestion and fatigue.
I'm going to start with the O2 and Toshiba campaigns, then get into the swing of Christmas and I'm saving the meerkat till last.
In itself, I think that tells you quite a lot.
O2 (1) Priority.
Frankly, this was a bit of a struggle on the Roman wi-fi. I like the idea of getting my hands on tickets before everyone else and I can imagine plenty of people wanting to share their experiences at gigs and festivals. So far, so good. I've nothing against competitions either, but finding hotspots in an ad didn't feel like the most engaging launch for "hunt for a ticket". I'm afraid my bed is looking rather more attractive than finding out any more.
Moving on to Toshiba (6), I salute the clients and team for trying something different rather than just making a standard ad and going on about the product features, which I couldn't care less about.
That's an achievement.
But, if pushed, the result still reminded me a little of a Sony ad from about ten years ago where the guy fell from the sky in his armchair.
It's November, so that can only mean one thing: Christmas ads.
Here are three in a row.
Christmas is a time when people (and clients, in particular) want to luxuriate in a warm bath of nostalgia and tradition, which makes doing anything new or different really challenging.
So, on that basis, I'm feeling generous towards things that try to stand out from wall-to-wall carols, snow, Santas and celebs.
Sainsbury's (2). As Christmas ads go, it's pretty good. Not too cheesy and the food looks tasty too.
Two questions though. One: Is it trying to be a real road trip or is it trying to capture the perfect white Christmas (fake snow included)? Two: What happened to the brilliant "try something new today"? I know that people love their classic smoked salmon, turkey and mince pies at Christmas, but a little twist of something different in the food wouldn't have gone amiss.
John Lewis (3) has always been a favourite comfort blanket of a store, so I'm predisposed to like everything about it. I like the thought in the ad too. Somewhere along the way, I think we do lose the magic of Christmas - even if, for me, it was always more about the unwrapping than the present inside. But, that's quibbling.
I think this is far better than the average Christmas ad, only slightly spoiled by the unnecessary appearance of the adult at the end.
With the Schweppes (4) idents, the Christmas ads are nearly over (if only ...). Maybe it's because these are only ten seconds and so loading with far fewer pauses than anything else, but I like them. I think doing something even remotely funny with just ten seconds is pretty impressive.
My guess is that they will also stand out from the usual schmaltz fest.
Finally, I saved the Comparethemarket.com (5) podcast to listen to while I'm brushing my teeth. I think this is a fantastic campaign that pulled off the double coup of shaking up a dull market and getting away with the biggest pun of all time. I liked this podcast, although at 12 minutes the furry one's charm sometimes felt stretched rather thin.
Right, time for bed. Not a bad bunch of work, all in all. Certainly nothing to give me any nightmares. Sweet dreams.
Project: O2 Priority digital campaign
Client: Ed Pellew, advertising manager, O2
Brief: Create a new area for gig-goers and music lovers to engage them
with priority ticketing
Agency: Archibald Ingall Stretton
Writer: Holly Brockwell
Art director: Geoff Gower
Designer: Jon Biggs
Project: Christmas truck
Client: Claire Harrison-Church, director of brand communications,
Brief: This Christmas Sainsbury's is all about taking great fresh food
to the people of Britain
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Martin Loraine
Art director: Steve Jones
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Production company: Academy
Exposure: National TV
3. JOHN LEWIS
Project: John Lewis Christmas
Client: Craig Inglis, head of brand communications, John Lewis
Brief: Position John Lewis as the place to find the perfect gift this
Agency: Adam & Eve
Writer: Ben Tollett
Art director: Emer Stamp
Director: Benito Montorio
Production company: Blink
Exposure: TV, cinema
Project: Christmas entertainment from Schweppes
Clients: Cathryn Sleight, marketing director, Coca-Cola GB; Rebecca
Hirst, senior brand manager, Schweppes, Coca-Cola GB
Brief: Remind consumers that Schweppes makes Christmas entertainment
Writer/art director: Mother
Director: Tom Kuntz
Production company: MJZ
Brief: Continue to keep Aleksandr's fans engaged with new content
Writers/art directors: Matt Lloyd, Rich Connell, Clem Woodward, Javier
Romartinez, Stephen Misir
Exposure: iTunes, comparethemeerkat.com
Project: Space chair
Client: Matt McDowell, marketing director, Toshiba
Brief: Make "Leading Innovation" come to life for all Toshiba product
Agency: Grey London
Writer: Grey London
Art director: Grey London
Director: Andy Amadeo
Production company: Hungryman
Exposure: TV, online, point-of-sale