Private View: New year, same shitshow (with Guillermo Vega and Helen Rhodes)

Here we go again. In my first Private View for Campaign after moving to the UK more than two years ago, I said that I believe it’s extremely tough to do something that’s truly great.

Fast-forward to a global pandemic, economic downturn and the world turning upside down, and saying it’s extremely tough to make something truly great right now sounds like the biggest understatement on the planet. But – it’s not impossible. I’ve lived and worked through a couple of recessions in my country, and learned first-hand that it was the agencies (and brands) that took a smarter, more creative approach to business during a downturn period that ended up winning the long game.

On the Beach gets it right. A beautifully written voiceover and a brilliant read from Iggy Pop. The cinematography is simple and impactful, and there is a hypnotic quality to it, which I liked (or maybe I’ve just been away from the beach too long).
 
On to the Figureheads podcast for Barclaycard. I’ll be honest, a podcast from a bank wouldn’t usually be my first listening choice but, that said, it’s always a good idea to be helpful and share stories and wisdom with others. Hopefully, these lessons will find the people who need them the most.
 
"Whatever it takes" from Macmillan is raw and real. I like that it’s not pretending to look the other way and it has a good balance of darkness and light, which can be difficult to get right. Tough to rank against other ads from Macmillan, some of them masterpieces, but this is a valuable piece of work in an incredibly rough year.
 
Generally I am not a fan of ads that recruit soldiers but at least this from the British Army takes a different approach to the "tough person" stereotype. It’s more human and more realistic, which probably means it will be more effective. And I’m not sure how positive I feel about that.
 
Another good one for Ikea with the clever line "fortune favours the frugal". It’s smart, simple and also managed to sell some specific products through the ad, which was surprising. As usual, [director] Tom Kuntz is precise and executionally clear. Again, Ikea’s challenge is that it’s competing against its past work, some of which is flawless… but this is definitely one of its best from recent months.
 
I agree with Rebel Kitchen in message… I’m just not sure of what relationship this message has with the product. But they’ve spent money criticising someone I profoundly dislike and, while it feels a little opportunistic, someone was bound to do it, right?
 
Next up, Santander. I get what they were going for, playing off how far a company can go to be innovative. But in ramming that home, they forget to really land what it is that they are doing, as opposed to what they aren’t. The execution isn’t that clear, and the humour is a bit too broad to be memorable.
 
Yes, Weetabix. Simple and direct, which, in our chaotic times, is a welcome relief. Solid concept, clear strategy – feels right for the brand.
 
I really want to love the Beagle Street ad. And I do in part – the art direction is awesome and it’s a sweet idea – but I’m not totally convinced by the rhyming voiceover. [Model maker] Andy Gent is a genius but I’m not sure this all works together as well as it could have done.
 
Lastly, let’s talk about Quorn. This had some whimsical, fun moments that made me smile but, somehow, I think the message falls a little flat. It’s essentially just saying the product is good for meat eaters but, as a meat eater, that’s not enough for me. The endline about lowering your carbon footprint seems to be a better approach to convince meat eaters to switch.
 
This article was first published in Campaign

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