It's all about data these days. Data and real-time consumer insight. Unless you've got data folk coming out of your wazoo, then your wazoo is woefully underspecced.
Quite where this leaves creativity is anyone's guess, but in the spirit of the age, I set up a little online survey to help me with Private View this week.
Over two days, 150 people replied to some leading questions about the work, and I then fed the answers into the data blender and extracted a set of what our brethren in research are fond of calling "learnings".
(I was going to make some meaty charts and graphs of the results and stick them up here but I wasn't allowed to for art directional reasons. So, words it is.)
The respondents were mostly male, almost wholly under the age of 50 and 90 per cent worked in advertising and marketing.
Gu (4). The data revealed that men were bored by this commercial and women were intrigued by it. Quite a few blokes got a David Lynch chubby as a result of watching it. Unsurprisingly, only two women experienced the same twinge.
Action for Children (6). The data thought that the red line device in this commercial was overwhelmingly clunky. The use of animation was also felt by the data to get in the way of the generation of empathy for the children involved.
Homebase (2). The data was adamant here. Great work. The best work in the category by far. Nine respondents were interested to know why the ad was set in Carlisle.
Match.com (1). Something of a curate's egg, this one; the data somewhat unexpected. According to the data, everyone wanted to cry. But, strangely, it was the guys who wanted to cry in a good way and the girls who were moved to tears for the wrong reasons. Having said that, the data also revealed that, upon viewing the commercial, a majority of the men felt the urge to vomit. Only one woman would consider going on to the website to find a partner as a result of watching the ad, whereas 11 men were willing to give it a go.
BBC (3). The data felt that this internet promo was a bad use of taxpayers' money (by a ratio of 2:1). The data would rather save BBC 6 Music. And the data, donning its rose-tinted spectacles, felt that PlayStation had closed the book on weird female aliens in ads years ago. This last point was, however, moot. Respondents under the age of 30 were not familiar with the bug-eyed lass of yesteryear.
Skype (5). Here, in the digital arena, the data was at its most loquacious. A cool idea (25 votes). The video of the idea made it look cool (32 votes). I never went to the website (52 votes). When I went to the website, I was underwhelmed (two votes). There's room for way better ideas in digital (33 votes).
Finally, the survey inquired as to the state of mind of the respondents after they had sacrificed six minutes of their lives to complete it. The data revealed that 42 of them felt violated, 40 felt numb and 37 felt they could have a future in research.
The "any other comments" section was also full of useful learnings: "I started to lose the will to live halfway through"; "Skype was shit"; "You lied, it took more than five minutes"; "That BBC thing was insultingly bad"; "Get a proper job. Easy to sit there and take the piss. Create something with clients, then you've earned the right to be a finger-pointing toller"; and "You're a glib tosser, George".
Like I said, it's all about data these days. Data and the brave, new world of real-time consumer insults.
BLOGGER - Dr Samuel Johnson, http://twitter.com/drsamueljohnson
Whereby Lexicographer, Man of Letters & Gout-Sufferer Dr Samuel Johnson does pass Comment 'pon divers gaudy Advertisements for the Pleasure of the Denizens of the Creative-Industries.
London is said to be the Capital of Advertising, a Place where a Man of enterprising Mind may build his Fortune & that of a Brand with a rousing Slogan, perform'd by a Sock-Puppet or accompany'd by the Release of colour'd Balls. The Streets of Soho & Shoreditch teem with motley Phalanxes of Cut-Purses, Lollygaggers & Fops, each clad as Hudson-Bay Lumber-Jacks & clutching Mister Moleskine's Folios, fill'd with Promise yet empty of Substance.
Advertising-Men do reveal their true Belief in their Profession when in th'Employ of the BBC (3), an Organisation that does forsake Advertising. Herewith we are enjoin'd to partake of a BBC Internet-Season. The Premise is most imposing. A Phantasm does emerge from the Ather, declaiming herself free'd from the Limits of Humanitie & engag'd in Dialogue with esteem'd States-Men. With great Bathos, it transpires that she is not a ghoulish Emissary from the Future or a Being from far Jupiter but merely a Woman of today who has harness'd the Power of the very Internet. A pull'd Rug, indeed. I was less transport'd unto the Future than thrust back a full Decade into the Pomp of Mister Orange's telephonick Hubris, or thrust sidewards into th'esteem'd Discuss Campaign of Messrs AOL.
To the Ather for the next Advertisement: Skype (5) is most wondrous, for it does carry Sermons & Conversations for nary a Shilling. Now I need not converse into a desk-mount'd Looking-Glass; for Skype is compress'd into a portable Hand-Clasp. To mark its Portability, Skype does implore the Publick to telephone a Troupe of Artists, who shall then render their Words of Conversation in to Art: no meagre Campaign but a grand Happening.
I for one would not care should an Artist dare Etch or Embroider my Diction & nor will the Publick, who shall deem it a Prank & refute it thus. Indeed, I feel compell'd to alter my Aphorism: when a Man is turn'd to User-Generat'd Content, he is tir'd of Life.
To Carlisle, where a Mob of Deckorators has beseig'd the Station at the Behest of Lord Homebase (2), bedecking it with Silks, Chandeliers & Cornice-Work, much to the Consternation of the People of Cumberland, whose noble Station does now resemble a Bordello. I assay that Lord Homebase's Competitors shall respond with equal Consternation, for 'tis their Custom to berate the Publick with the Price of Timbers & tin-claim'd Efficacy of Varnishes.
The English excel both in their claim'd Affecktion for Infants & their actual Negleckt of them. The Campaigning of Action for Children (6) is thus most Urgent. Herein a poor Waif does relate her sorry Tale, enact'd with a Flurry of animat'd Dolls & Bunting. Yet I was supris'd neither by the Tale of the Infant nor the Works of the Charity nor the Manner of the Telling. Such a Cause does merit greater Beseeching than this.
I am most disturb'd by the Tale of Gu (4), seemingly a Chocolate-Pudding for Diabolists. A Woman enters a domestick Cabal more suit'd to the Hellfire Club than to the Homes of decent Englishmen, whereupon she eats of Satan's Cocoa-Pot. What few Words are spok'n do sound like Frenchman's Tongue. What, pray tell, is a "Ganache"? I deteckt the malign Hand of Mister David Lynch.
In keeping with Tradition, I conclude with a Tale most romantick. Match.com (1) does assign Lovers in the modern Fashion, with neither Chaperone nor formal Introducktion. Such Trysts do depend 'pon the Spirit of Romance & the Comeliness of the People. Both are to the Fore here. 'Tis great Progress, for previous Advertisements had depict'd a Cavalcade of Trolls browsing for a Partner as one might search for a mislay'd Button. I thus raise a Huzzah & a Glass of Porto-Wine unto Match.
Yr. obedient Servant, Sam. Johnson.
Project: Accidental duet
Client: Karl Gregory, marketing director and acting country manager,
Brief: Dramatise the "match moment"
in a way that encourages singles to choose match.com
Art director: Mother
Directors: Si & Ad
Production company: Academy
Project: Transforming the nation
Client: Rebecca Brock, Homebase
Brief: Showcase the Homebase range and bring to life its mission to
transform unusual spaces into wonderful homes - this being the
transformation of Carlisle railway station
Agency: Leo Burnett London
Writer: Chris Birch
Art director: Caroline Rawlings
Director: Philippe Andre
Production company: Independent
Exposure: National TV
Project: SuperPower - the BBC's internet season
Client: Chris Travers, head of consumer marketing, BBC Global News
Brief: The BBC's season investigating the extraordinary power of the
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Steve Moss
Art director: Jolyon Finch
Director: Matthias Hoene
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: TV, online
Project: Gu you ganache?
Client: Sonia Kapadia, marketing manager, Gu
Brief: Glimpse into the world of "ganaching". A dark and sensual place
where women submit to their desires and indulge in Gu
Art director: Mother
Director: Mattias Montero
Production company: Sonny London
Project: Skype Outside
Client: Linda Summers, director, marketing and operations - mobile,
Writer: Rebecca Rosier
Art director: Nicky Gibson
Production company: Pulse Films
6. ACTION FOR CHILDREN
Project: Neglect appeal
Client: Fiona Lydon, brand manager, Action for Children
Agency: Baby Creative
Writers/art directors: Steve Grime, Fabrice Ward
Director: Dan Sumich
Production company: Passion Pictures