Incoming executive creative director,
Blimey, this ECD lark is going to be tricky. I can see why the brilliant Tony D was always so stressed. IT’S THE PRESSURE OF PRIVATE VIEW! "What’s the theme?" "You’re making it funny, right?" "Don’t fuck it up, Fresh." Even the brief from Campaign requests 600 words of "colourful" copy. Now that’s an aneurysm-inducing adjective if I ever saw one.
Still, at least my parents are excited. My father has actually heard of TBWA ("Didn’t that chap with the curly hair work there?") and my mother is convinced that I’m once again in a position to create masterpieces to rival her favourite ad of all time, "you buy one, you get one free" – that timeless classic from Safestyle windows. But while many will mock it, I bet it works for them. And I imagine the same can be said for the Gocompare.com work. Long sneered upon, the misadventures of the indefatigable Gio Compario are back on our screens. I’ve got time for the big man (and there’s no truth in the rumour that it’s actually just me in a tux). The campaign knows what it is and does it well.
Straightforward and simple. Formulaic but fun. It won’t win any creative awards but, frankly, I doubt the business cares. It’s back on track after a baffling foray into the odd and oblique "land of…" work and it’s all the better for it.
While familiarity works for Gocompare.com, there’s no such good news for Harveys. I can’t be sure how many lifestyle brands have dabbled with the "well-to-do neighbours being wrong-footed by the new family next door" idea but I’m willing to wager it’s in excess of a billion. I’m sure this story of neighbourly envy looked fine on paper but, in reality, it’s totally forgettable (possibly due to the total absence of comedy opera singers).
"Forgettable" is a veritably positive description compared with the words popping into my head after seeing the Wrangler work, however. I was always taught that there are only two types of puns: bad puns and current puns (thanks, Jon Matthews). Here, we most definitely fall into the former. For a brand trying to re-establish its place in culture and assert some much-needed premium cues, going with this tired idea was certainly the wrong(ler) call.
As a seasoned commuter, I get what Trainline is trying to do here. It’s a noble cause: the aim of achieving a seamless zen-like approach to navigating the journey to the office is something we all aspire to. But, alas, like a train-travelling Tantalus, we’re forever cursed never to reach it, thanks to the gods of privatised rail. It’s enough to drive you a little bit bonkers – which, thankfully, this spot is too, so it sort of works for me.
Finally, to Honda. Japanese synchronised walking is an utterly fascinating thing. So much so, I would have liked to have seen more of it. The more ornate stuff too: if you’re going to do "precision", make me gasp. That said, as a visual spectacle, this is sweet, interesting, different and unlike everything else on this week’s review list. Only two minor criticisms: the line’s a little straight (for me, it lacks any real Honda tone) and the track.
Don’t get me wrong, I love M Beat and General Levy (I was Medway’s number-one fan in 1994-1995), but it just doesn’t sit right with the spot. I can see what was being tried but, for me at least, I’m just not sure it quite clicks.
Phew. That’s it from me. Remember, folks – it’s just advertising.
Executive creative director and co-founder, Nexus
I recently became a father-to-be, so babies are very much on my mind. In a production company, ideas nurtured for months somewhere else hit your desks and, for a few
intense days, we must convince the agency that we are the people to deliver their wee one into the world. So we see all sorts of ideas, every day, from all over the world, naked and unadorned. We see big, bouncy ideas, ugly ones with character, scrawny ones, fat ones, some that arrive early and many that arrive too late. And, just occasionally, ones of breathtaking beauty. But it’s never really our job to judge. God forbid. Instead, we just see potential. One thing we have learned: ideally, you have great genes, but nurture can get you very far indeed.
First up, it’s twins. Wrangler would have it that, in the world of fashion, it’s not enough to succeed. Others must fail. Welcome, Wrongler – the soulless doppelgänger to Wrangler’s free spirit. It’s a likeable conceit, although it might have been braver to just run Wrongler ads alone and leave Wrangler to our imagination. After all, tribes often find more common identity through what they hate than the trickier notion of what they share.
Harveys has taken a similar divide-and-conquer approach. This time, we meet the Harveys – a family with a fierce loyalty to Harveys’ range of furnishings – and their nightmare neighbours. In many ways, the idea is not dissimilar to Wrangler: the Harves and the Harve-Nots, if you like. Naturally, I think this could have been done better through animation. It could have handled the heightened double world of taste and tastelessness more adeptly. In live action, it’s tough to deliver and, for me, this falls short.
Meanwhile, Gio Compario from Gocompare.com is back. I guess it’s testament to his stickiness that I hadn’t realised he had gone away. Gio is a confusing creation. In the distant past, he was an anti-hero, an operatic irritant. But, somehow, during his absence, he has apparently become a national treasure. Now he is welcome everywhere. I caught one where he is performing to a packed Wembley Stadium like Susan Boyle. In this one, he hangs out with a semblance of another national treasure, Downton Abbey, in an icy stately home. Go figure.
Trainline is going places with "I am train". This must have been a nice script to land on your table. It’s not often you get something with a unique tone of voice right there on the page. And there’s a nice insight to boot as the best technology does make you feel just a little superhuman. This is a nicely crafted script and I love the line about the banana. It’s the touch of bathetic silliness that makes this likeable.
Finally, it’s Honda – a baby born into a family of overachievers with a difficult legacy to live up to. It’s not an absolute game-changer but nor does it disappoint, as this is satisfyingly watchable and stylishly put together. Who knew Japanese precision walking was a thing? Although the choreography must have been considerable, this clearly leans on some well-disguised VFX too. I did think that this was going to go up an extra level at some point and truly surprise me. But that is just the pressure of expectation on those born to the Honda family.