It's a funny old world. Well, it's a funny old new world. TV, TV and more TV is all I have in my bag of goodies this week. No digital, not a hint of interactivity and not even the merest whiff of integration. Ah well, that's not a deal-breaker, so let's get started.
Fresh from the Halifax FM tour de force, the guys at Delaney Lund Knox Warren have got their teeth into the new Vauxhall Corsa (4) TV brief. They've ditched the "C'MON" puppets (well, almost) and the whole strategy has reverted back to how much fun this little car is to drive. To illustrate this joy and abandon, we see the Corsa driving through a psychedelic pop art world. Ironically, the very same agency, under the previous regime, set the benchmark for this type of execution with the wonderful "hide and seek", directed by Frederic Planchon. Sad to say, this new offering falls well short of that in terms of fun, personality and originality.
I like the Argos (6) work. It's funny, populist and insightful, with a tone of voice punters will relate to. The Christmas ad was a good'un and so is this latest offering. It lets us know in a charming way that we can reserve stuff online. They're building up a recognisable look and feel, and the humour seems bang-on.
TV sponsorship idents are hard to do. Good ones are few and far between - the latest Land Rover set and Ben and Emer's Volkswagen Passat series are the only recent ones that spring to mind. But if you thought TV idents were hard to do, try financial services TV idents. Bearing that in mind, the people who've created the Standard Life (1) sponsorship of Dave's Weekends have done a good job. The "reality check" insight is funny and they're well executed.
The NHS (5) has made a pair of commercials warning us about the dangers of regularly drinking at the end of the day. One ad focuses on a bloke having a few pints with his mates after work, the other shows two women guzzling a bottle of wine at home. The ad uses an X-ray to show the damage you can't see. Now, I was a huge fan of VCCP's "you wouldn't start a night like this ... " campaign and, while the target audiences are very different here, these feel a little ploddy by comparison. By the way, if you're not convinced about the dangers of regular after-work drinking, simply head to the Cross Keys on Endell Street any night of the week and ask for Digital Dave.
Next up, a very noble cause. Nike (2) has launched a viral campaign to promote its (RED) laces charity venture. The goal is to raise money to help stop the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.
We see Didier Drogba, Andrei Arshavin, Denilson, Kobe Bryant and the delightful Maria Sharapova in pigtails, all clowning around with said laces. There are some nice directorial flourishes - the bowl of spaghetti, the light out at the end - but it didn't feel particularly viral to me.
And, finally, to Mr Brain's (3) Faggots. Let me type that again. And, finally, to Mr Brain's Faggots. The spot shows a middle-aged man heroically tacking down a sticky-up bit of carpet on the landing. Having nailed the job in question, he returns to the kitchen to be greeted by an adoring family and a plate full of faggots. A gravelly Northern voiceover explains: "You don't give a man like Jack poncey food, you give him Mr Brains, in that deliciously rich West Country sauce." Mmm mmm. Just in case you were left in any doubt, the strapline tells us: "It's a real man's meal."
The whole thing doesn't take itself too seriously and is very tongue-in-cheek. If only you were getting tongue in cheek instead of refried pigs' testicles.
CASTING DIRECTOR - Mark Summers, casting director and owner, Mark Summers Management
Looking at the ads, they all fall over a wide scale of the industry, from the basic and simplistic message of Argos, all the way to the funk and razzmatazz of Nike.
The NHS (5) ad is a simple, hard-hitting one. I personally do not drink very much, and have no empathy with the "two-pints-a-night man". However, I do know that alcoholism is rife and something needs to be done. I liked the clear articulation of the risks, the intelligent use of facts and, most of all, that someone is focusing on alcohol as a social issue, which is clearly required. In short, it's not bad and it does the job.
Verdict: Not top of the class, but a solid student, and I'll drink to it.
Now, Nike (2). Very rarely have I seen such shameless leverage of a socio-political issue. It has chosen, instead of focusing on the benefit it wants to give, to try to be cool. And, as we all know, anyone who tries to be cool is doomed to fail. Quite honestly, I found it a sickening waste of a golden opportunity to use the Nike platform to get across a serious point. Instead, we are faced with a lack of message, some random people with arms that would not look out of place in the Tate Modern and a child's drawing of Africa and something mumbled about Aids. This offering is the epitome of stale, regurgitated ideas. The delicious irony is, of course, that Nike missed a perfect vehicle to get some serious CSR messages across.
Verdict: This isn't fit to lace my boots. Stay behind after school and take 1,000 lines for arrogance.
Argos (6). Well, this is clear, understandable and it actually resonates with me. It has targeted purpose, accurate messages and relates to experiences we know all too well. The only slight misgiving is that every time I do go to Argos, the wait is painful. Nevertheless, I learned something about how to manage my custom there, so, yes, it works, and it adds differentiation to an existing brand. As an aside, it reminds me of the person who filled out a job application. The question was: "Use as many words as you feel necessary to describe you and your personal attributes." The answer he wrote was: "Concise."
Verdict: A catalogue of clear message and benefit. Pass.
The Standard Life (1) video is more of an ident than a true commercial. However, it was simple, funny and catchy. I see it as brand consolidation/alignment more so than advertising, and it's quite memorable.
Verdict: Standard Life likes to get away with the bare minimum, but gets a pass too.
The Mr Brain's (3) Pork Faggots commercial stirred a little debate in our household. I found it humorous and I understand totally the useless DIY exponent who has all the gear and no idea, as I am exactly that person! It's well-created, funny in an "I relate" way, but, on the other hand, does Mr Brain's consider that its only customer demographic is as that depicted? It's been around long enough to have a core client, and it needs to expand that base. It could alienate some of the fringe market and, although I liked it (the casting was great!), that question mark still lingers.
Verdict: Intelligent use of Brain power; perhaps subject needs looking at. Saying that, a pass with honours.
Vauxhall Corsa (4). Dear, oh dear. I feel sorry for the creatives. Faced with a car whose manufacturers once drove Jeremy Clarkson to deliver a five-minute review without any words at all, what on earth can they do to invigorate a brand with low perceived value and a car that has simply no interest other than affordability in a market saturated by aspiration, inspiration and snobbery? It's colourful, I'll give it that, but, hell's teeth, at least come up with something different. It reminds me of the accountant dad thinking he'll be a fashionista by wearing matching Mickey Mouse tie and socks on Boxing Day. Truth is, he's still an accountant and this is still a Corsa.
Verdict: Poor Corsawork means failure. Back to the year below and retake those exams.
1. STANDARD LIFE
Project: Get a reality check
Client: Standard Life
Brief: Launch the active money lifeplan
Writer: Alex Mavor
Art director: Ed Kaye
Directors: Si & Ad
Production company: Academy
Exposure: TV, digital outdoor, press, online, trade, PR
Project: Lace up, save lives
Art director: n/s
Director: Paul Shearer
Production company: Great Guns
3. MR BRAIN'S
Project: Mr Brain's Pork Faggots
Client: Francois Boulard, brand manager, Kerry Foods
Brief: Encourage purchase among lighter users, by reminding them why Mr
Brain's is perfect for satisfying the man of the house
Agency: Quiet Storm
Writers/art directors: Trevor Robinson, Becky Hamilton
Director: Trevor Robinson
Production company: Quiet Storm Films
4. VAUXHALL CORSA
Project: Corsa "pop art" TV
Client: Peter Hope, integrated communications manager, General Motors UK
Brief: Reinforce Corsa as the stylish small car that puts the fun back
Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren
Writers/art directors: Simon Morris, Keith Terry
Director: Michael Reissinger
Production company: Bakery Films
Project: Alcohol effects
Client: Jessica Macqueen, public health team leader - drugs and alcohol
misuse, Department of Health
Brief: Make the risks of alcohol consumption clear
Writer: John McClaughlin
Art director: Tony Hector
Director: Sean Meehan
Production company: Nice Shirt
Exposure: National TV
Project: New catalogue
Brief: Launch the new-look catalogue and make the Check & Reserve
service at Argos famous
Agency: CHI & Partners
Writers/art directors: Tom Skinner, Rick Standley
Production company: Rogue
Exposure: National TV