Ben Walker and Stuart Outhwaite
With work from Ikea, Sony, Post Office, British Airways, British Gas and Kettle Foods.
Executive creative director,
Crispin Porter & Bogusky
Bond is rubbish. Let’s get that straight. It used to be good. When baddies bit through cables with their metal teeth, ate pressurised air capsules and exploded in front of our very eyes, and perched cats on their laps in an expression of pure evil. And the girls were called Pussy Galore. PUSSY GALORE! Clearcast doesn’t fall for that sort of caper nowadays. Trust me, we’ve tried.
Anyway, today’s Bond is just pure expensive nonsense. The money has come in, the magic has gone out. But everyone’s going mad for it. You can’t move for brands clamouring to be associated with this clap-trap. Watches, cars, beers – you name it. Even Match Of The Day had a Bond theme last week.
I have no idea what this first ad is. Apparently, it’s for Sony. I watched it twice. Granted, there are Sony screens featured on the ludicrous set (a wall of TVs and PCs pretending to gather data on a pathetically stony-faced Daniel Craig as he punches one person after another), but that’s as far as the message goes. None of the wonderful claims about colour or longevity of years gone by. It’s basically just an ad for another shit Bond film. Still, on the back of this, the missus will persuade me to go to the cinema and watch this humourless, overproduced crud. I’ll get the hump, moan about the price of the popcorn, and get her back by finally making her watch We Need To Talk About Kevin.
British Gas is spoofing The A-Team to let us know it can fix all my household problems. The A-Team is a well-trodden path and a bit of a first thought, but the campaign in general gets under my skin with its weird animation style. It’s sort of creepy, but mesmerising at the same time. Like Toby Jugs or Jimmy Savile. It’s nothing if not distinctive. A sturdy job on a difficult brand.
Kettle Foods’ chips are handmade. I learned what’s so special about that from this lovely ad about the dying art of signwriting. I hope there are more films in the pipeline, and I dare say I will go and seek them out if there are. Bingo. This has the makings of a wonderful campaign. Nice one, all.
Things I’ll never do again: 1) Attempt a forward somersault; 2) Eat three whole unseeded Thai chilies for £45 (Pat Burns, you still owe me a fiver); 3) Fly Ryanair. There are people who have set up huge websites so that others can pour forth their bile on economy airlines. It’s a subject everyone’s passionate about. British Airways (4) has done an ad starring a slice of lemon to remind us it does complimentary drinks on its economy flights. It’s OK, but it’s not going to harness people’s energy and vitriol or fuel the debate in any way. Opportunity missed.
The new Ikea ad is once again lovingly crafted, very bold and different, and has the product at the centre. It looks like it was great fun, this whole project, from conception to completion. The yang to DFS’s yin, and that’s something to be grateful for, even if the tone of voice of the campaign can sometimes feel a little too achingly trendy. A lovely, charming, fun film.
The Post Office has shot an ad all over the world with some postman wanging on about god knows what. I have no idea what to make of it, so I asked one of my best mates, who has been a postman for 15 years, what he thought. "What bollocks is that?" he asked. "Dunno," I said. "Advertising, innit."
And, finally, the direct mail. If anyone found a Specialized cycle helmet and a set of keys at the Campaign Big Awards do, can you send it to me at 32 York Way, N1 9AB. Cheers.
Anyway, his point of view was that Private View is a positive force in the industry – the master craftsmen debating how to make the wonderful yet more wonderful. I, on the other hand, had a sneaking suspicion it was just a bunch of self-important poseurs kicking anything that moved in a painfully transparent attempt to make themselves look cool. And important. So I swore I’d never do it, no matter how much "PR Dan" pestered me. And, like all good principles, I stuck to it for a bit, and then got bored. So here’s my head firmly above the parapet. I’m definitely going to look like one of those twats. I’ve dealt with that; now you have to.
Speaking of pretending to look important, peppered around YouTube are slithers of me wanging on about ads in "making of" films. Add all the views together and you’re left with a pretty solid argument against "making ofs" being in any way worthwhile – they’re just for us to send to our mums, right? Kettle Foods clearly doesn’t think so, having employed someone to signwrite its brief and record the whole paint-drying process.
What’s going on in the Ikea ad? Christ knows. I’ve watched it four times now and keep getting distracted by the Jimmy Savile/He-Man knock-off. But bollocks if I care. It’s just another gloriously entertaining spot with the odd table and chair chucked in so I don’t forget what Ikea actually does. It makes me like Ikea more than I did before I started watching it, and will very likely be the best thing on telly this Saturday night.
I’ve always quite liked the British Gas ads. Comfy, aren’t they? What with the "little worlds", uncanny valley-flirting animation, jowly Tim Whatshisname voiceover and stirring strings from the second-best-ever Blur track. Yeah, they can get a little samey, saccharine and... oh. Hang on. They’ve put the shitting A-Team on it! And the Secrets & Lies fella has been replaced with some plummy, parodying tosspot. And the little photogenic dudes have got all, all... tarted-up. If previous media buys are anything to go by, the half-times in Sky’s Premiership coverage have just got even more "Redknappish".
Poor old Paul Mead, the star of the new Post Office ad. He’s clearly in the grip of one of the most profoundly technicolour
psychotic breakdowns to have hit the Post Office since that whole Consignia farrago. What is it putting on the backs of stamps nowadays?
The stars of the new British Airways ads, meanwhile, are a little more prosaic. A jumper, lemon slice and pair of charity shop trainers. They’re having a right old time, flying to places and that. Or, at least, that’s what we are told by some old creep in the telly and blither in the posters. I really liked that "Stay at home" stuff. And Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s really knocking it out of the park at the minute. Presumably, BA spent all of its money on Olympic canapés.
And then there’s the Sony ad. Or, if we’re honest, that James Bond ad that has a telly in it – rather than a watch, a beer, a camera, a car, a pair of cufflinks, a hat, some socks or some Vagisil for Mrs Bond. I’d say Daniel Craig must be knackered, but then all of those ads do use the same footage. (Apart from the Vagisil spot, obviously. That one’s a cracker.)
(PS. As an aside, I really like the Hide & Seek game – it’s like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, with guns, in an Aston Martin. Which is self-evidently awesome.)
So, there we are. It’s taken me ten years, but Birch, I think you owe me that tenner.
This article was first published on Campaign Work
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