There is a certain sort of work that gets us all excited, the stuff we wish we'd done and the sort of ideas we're proud of. We have a word for all the work we like over here. Long (cue Carry On ... sound effects). But seriously ...
Long ideas are the sort of ideas that people really talk about. Ideas that last longer than the loud spike of a singular telly ad or the flutter of a slightly porny microsite.
Long ideas get argued about in the pub or snatch column inches, they keep themselves interesting by letting people in, letting them amplify the idea or pass it on. They have a sort of built-in Max Clifford. Long ideas often go further than just advertising: The X Factor, Cadbury's production companies, Flat Eric or watching your own heart attack (shameless). Long ideas make us all happy. Long ideas turn clients into rock stars. How long is all this?
First, Drench (4). Being the refreshment brand that cares most for the drivers of our nation is cool. Niche, but cool. If the unsaid message on these is "drive safer with Drench", why didn't they just say it? Or find a better line than "drivers' brains blah ..."? They invented a story here, I just wish they had spoken up when they told it. The art direction also feels a bit flat. The planner should speak up.
CreditExpert (5) is joining the other online brands that have realised the gloves are off, that have opened their eyes and joined the Mad Hatter's race for top of mind. The more mental the better. Is it long? No. Is it effective? Sexy? Cult? For three weeks, maybe ...
How do I get involved? Is there a cleverly buried entertainment property where we can explore the cocktail-drinking Lothario and his world? Or does he develop an opinion that the nation can agree with? Not that I've found. The real question is: where does this category go from here? If there are any online brands reading, I have a script about a bed-wetting otter that can write any URL you choose in neon nail polish. Please e-mail below.
"Supertelly" is brilliant. Pub talk. An excellent yet everyday piece of language that could have stood for exactly what Sky (1) does. The ad somehow manages to render it all harmless. It's like someone took everything that could have made the work provocative, loud, different and truly entertaining (all of the things Sky ought to stand for) and turned the volume down. I'd also have loved the opportunity to get involved in "supertelly", worked out whether I had it or not, got jealous because my mate had it. How does "supertelly" go from being an endline to being pub-slang for the best matches, the greatest movies? For the product?
I like the DCSF (6) "spin the bottle". Original execution, simple thought. It's probably more effective on the parents than the kids, though. "Why let drink decide?" could also play nicely in context. If they can work out who they're supposed to be talking to, it might help it seem less of a one-off. Fan the flames now, perhaps; we all want to see the Daily Mail whip up a panic around the return of drinking games and our virginal children ...
Which leads me to our virginal (slightly camp) Euro-elf from Leerdammer (3). A solid, mainstream ad for a cheese that wants to be solid and mainstream. I can't help feeling that to demand the shelf space it will need to succeed here, it should have taken a few more chances, in every department. What's short in German? Rammstein outro music isn't the answer, but it might have started to move our elf from a midday TV ad to part of a conversation. And from there, into the fridges of the nation?
Oh, Quit (2). Feels early digital. All horrible, cranky Flash animation and poor strategy. Forgettable. People are dying because of smoking; you can bet they want to talk to each other about it. We just need a reason larger than two naff CBeebies lungs running into walls. If you want to stop people smoking with an entertainment property, try invading The Wire and killing McNulty off with lung cancer.
Longer is better. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
CREATIVE - Seb Royce, creative director, glue London
By the time you read this, Valentine's Day will have been and gone, but as I am writing it the day before, I'm looking for ads to love.
First up is a new spot for Sky (1) HD. Anyone who has Sky will know how desperately hard it is trying to flog us all HD, so that we can see Fernando Torres' acne in minute detail when we're watching the football. The ad sees the Sky HD box being created in a hi-tech "factory" manned by robots that make you think of that Citroen Picasso ad a couple of years back. And that's the problem. It's all too slick and robotic and left me feeling cold. Even with the attempts at adding a bit of warmth - they've stuck Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka theme tune over the top - it doesn't hang together well. HD might well be "supertelly", but that feels like a different idea. Ultimately, there's just not enough to love here.
Next is a new ad for Experian's CreditExpert (5). Post-meerkat, every brand you've never heard of is looking for something a bit surreal to get cut-through. All well and good, but it needs to be either a) very funny, or b) completely original. Unfortunately, this is neither. The ads feature a smug aristocrat, our credit expert, and his Oddjob-/Cato-like Japanese butler. The thing is, the main man feels like he has been born into money. Wouldn't it have been better to have a hero who felt like he had made his millions through his brilliant financial acumen?
It's difficult to like either of these characters. Perhaps there's some brilliant comedy reference I'm missing, but, sadly, just not loving this one either.
The new set of new posters from Drench (4) are aimed at drivers. Really great TV ad last year. Loved it and I so want to love these posters too. And yet ... they're OK. You know, fine - mildly amusing lines, nondescript art direction. The satnav one is the strongest for me. But they don't get me as excited as I wanted them to. Shame.
Next, something about cheese. Leerdammer (3), to be precise, a cheese that's "not as mild as you think". We open in a fairytale forest setting, where a ginger-haired piccolo-playing elf comes across an old man who is carrying some Leerdammer, whereupon the little bugger turns him into a tree and has the cheese for himself. It looks nice - the ad, that is. "Not as mild" feels a like a bit of a middle-of-the-road thought, though, and the ad reflects that.
Saatchi & Saatchi X has created a series of 15-second animated films for the stop-smoking charity Quit (2). A noble cause, obviously. There have been some pretty compelling anti-smoking campaigns over the years. But this isn't one of them. I know it's tricky for agencies when a client comes to us wanting a "viral film" for £20k, but we need to be pushing back. For a charity like this, the money could have been used far more effectively with an interesting social media idea, rather than defaulting to clips like these.
Finally, the new campaign for the DCSF (6) aims to remind parents and children about the dangers of alcohol. The ad is a take on the popular teenage party game "spin the bottle", showing the consequences of starting to drink at a young age. I like this. Shot from the bottle's point of view makes it an interesting TV ad to watch and it's well cast. I doubt it will have any effect whatsoever on teens' drinking habits but that's not the ad's fault, it's the Government's for not thinking outside the, er ... box.
And that's it, nothing to hate here but not a whole lot to love either.
Clients: Lucian Smithers, Caroline Park, Angelique Frost, Holly Casey,
Brief: The Sky+HD box can transform your TV into supertelly
Writer: Thom Glover
Art director: Eoin Mclaughlin
Director: Tanaka Hideyuki
Production company: Hungry Man
Exposure: TV, cinema
Project: Loony Lungs
Client: Steve Crone, chief executive, Quit
Brief: Use the damage smoking does to your lungs as a potent reminder to
quit the habit - starting with a call to the Quitline
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi X
Writer: Maxine Hodgson
Art director: Sarah Taylor
Project: Leerdammer elf
Client: Ian Greengrass, marketing director, Bel UK
Brief: Raise awareness of Leerdammer and communicate that in terms of
taste, it's "not as mild as you might think"
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Steve Moss
Art director: Jo Finch
Director: Steve Hudson
Production company: Hungry Man
Project: Drench juicy spring water
Client: Sarah Dossett, senior brand manager, Drench, Britvic
Brief: Create brand awareness and engagement close to point of purchase
at service stations
Agency: CHI & Partners
Creatives: Matt Collier, Wayne Robinson
Project: The Credit Expert
Client: Peter Turner, managing director, Experian Interactive
Brief: Communicate the benefits of being in control of your credit
status and consolidate CreditExpert's leadership in this category
Agency: The Red Brick Road
Writer: Matt Lee
Art director: Pete Heyes
Director: Harold Einstein
Production company: Station Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: Spin the bottle
Clients: Alison Gilbert, group brand manager, COI; Laurence Russ, group
brand manager, DCSF
Brief: Alert young people to the negative consequences that may happen
as a result of drinking excessively
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London
Creatives: Paul Jordan, Angus Macadam
Directors: Dom & Nic
Production company: Outsider