I was talking to someone about a mutual friend – a more liberal advertising creative director – and how he allegedly feeds his rubbish ideas to a hologram of Shakespeare. My friend said this happens because he doesn’t like ideas that have been done before. I nodded knowingly, all the while thinking: why is it so important to be original? I’m sure Shakespeare wasn’t worried about it but we thought our friend could do with relaxing a little and embrace the fact that it’s OK if an idea has been done before. Ideas are never totally disconnected from the person who comes up with them because, executionally and emotionally, they will be different – maybe even better.
Still, our friend would chew his own face off on the quest for originality. Don’t worry. It’s OK. Do it better. Do it your way. That’s what makes it new and original. This inspired me to write this week’s Private View with two clear goals: 1) Is it an old idea done better? 2) Make our friend chew his own face off because my Private View is better than his. Not more original – just better.
Goal one is achieved by taking our friend’s Private View from two weeks ago and rewriting it better. For goal two, I’ll combine the best feedback from creative directors, clients, account directors, social gurus and PR gods into a rich plate of krautsalat of brilliant, insightful writing. Seasoned with such classics as "love it – it’s an old idea but who cares as it’s so much better" and "can I give you a couple of sausages with that krautsalat?". Ja, bitte.
i. Rambling man with clipboard? Seen it before. No problem there, but is this one done differently? The casting is great. Comb-over, framed slightly off-centre. Nice cuts back and forth. Talking to someone off-camera. Makes its point. Yeah, I kinda like it but, ultimately, not better in execution.
Tena Men. Wes Anderson colour palette: check. Mustachioed, slightly retro man talking to camera: check. Yep, not new. So, is this different in execution? Sound effects. Ocean’s Thirteen-like cuts. A lion. Seen it before, but who cares? Someone juggling chainsaws? No. That’s new. And I certainly didn’t see the end coming. LOVE it. I mean – yeah, I like it.
Dulux. A silver widescreen Logan’s Run future. Metropolis now. Yeah. Seen it before. So far, so good. Colour is the enemy. Great typography. A Lynx love story around colour? Does that work? Forbidden drugs in a funless world? My life is a story? Maybe. Change it with Dulux? No, thank you. I’m happy with it as is, in all its Farrow & Ball middle-classness. No points for "better" from me this time.
Alzheimer’s Society. Type on screen? Yeah, been done before. Sign O’ The Times – Prince. Etc etc… but not like that. Small type. Great writing. Super-simple execution depicting the different stages of Alzheimer’s. No audio. Love it. Really, really strong. Much better than Prince.
Dubai Airports. An ad with a penguin? Definitely done before! A penguin in Dubai? That’s new. How did he get on that plane? For me, there is not enough unexpected penguinness in this. OK – he’s in a sauna. That’s better. More of that, please, next time. The connection from the penguin to "go your own way" is lost on me. More original? Yes. Better? No.
It’s great to see some ads that have actual copywriting in it – two out of five here. Double points for Tena Men on that front. I’d like to see fewer ads with pictures and clever soundtracks and more dialogue. That would be so much betterer.
Managing partner, Creature London
We all try really hard, and there is always something to love in what we produce.
That’s going to be my mantra for this Private View. Sure, it’s easy to be mean-spirited; and, sure, being mean-spirited tends to produce funnier copy; and, sure, ultimately, the Private Views that people actually read – let alone remember – are the funny ones. But to hell with that. We’ve all slogged our guts out on a brief, sold our hearts out in a meeting and then cried our eyes out when we first saw an edit. Today, I’m going to celebrate the elements that everyone can be proud of, even if the entirety of the piece is not something we’ll be rushing to show our mums.
Right. Dubai Airport. Or "Airports", apparently. Now, we make ads for airports, and those briefs are tricky because the vast amount of airport decisions aren’t made based on airports; they’re made based on what flight you need to take, based on where you actually want to go. Faced with that strategic impasse, we’ve ended up with a penguin, enjoying the things that Dubai Airport(s) has to offer. I like airports. People like penguins. If I ever go to Dubai (I am never going to Dubai), I will probably end up using Dubai Airport. (I don’t know how else I’d get to Dubai.) Still, that shot with the penguin at the sushi bar is nice. And mums love penguins.
Moving swiftly on, we have Dulux. This is classic market-leader advertising – paint is ace, right? It’s a bit Nineteen Eighty-Four, it’s a bit Gattaca, it’s, you know, an ad about how nice colours are. Gattaca was great, wasn’t it? Whatever happened to Jude Law? My mum used to love Jude Law.
I really want to like the i work. We do live in a confusing world, where the job of the media has become telling us what to think as opposed to telling us what’s going on, and the need for a paper that just reports the news has never been greater. I just wish they’d got to the insight a bit quicker and left a bit more time for the teams to take a bit of a leap. The Guardian took a very similar brief about 30 years ago and made a wonderful ad (that nobody in advertising ever talks about, ever) called "points of view". This spot has made me watch that spot again, and that was really nice, so, you know. Hurrah! Advertising used to be well clever, didn’t it? "Too clever by half," my mum would probably say.
Onwards, ever onwards, via Tena Men, which is a really tricky brief (how do you get people to laugh at something that, for them, really isn’t a laughing matter?) that has been dealt with adroitly by the strats, adeptly by the creatives and beautifully cast, shot and directed by the production team. If it wasn’t for the existence of Old Spice Isaiah, I wouldn’t just love this, I’d be in love with this, furiously envious of it and angry that we didn’t get to make it. As it is, I watched it all and really enjoyed it. For an ad for a product I, as of yet, definitively don’t need, I’d say that’s a pretty good result. My mum wouldn’t get it, but she’s not really meant to.
And, finally, to Alzheimer’s Society. This is clever, powerful, simple and impossibly sad. I’m going to leave my mum out of it, if that’s OK.
Well-played, in different ways, everyone.