It's a huge privilege to write a Private View. It's a huge panic when you've left it to the last minute. So I've turned to my ever-erudite and laser-insightful partner Julian Vizard to add meat to my potatoes.
We give Campaign's crumpled Jiffy bag a shake and first out is a poster for the Greater London Authority (5) that I guess aims to heal London of Islamophobia. "We Are One" feels to me like the endline for something bigger. It feels like we're missing the rest of this campaign. Has anyone seen it?
It needs mini-TV documentaries telling us heartwarming, true stories about ethnic-togetherness in our capital. A website or press ads that give us evidence of undivided communities and expose Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech as nothing more than the rant of a silly old racist. Give us something at least. The mayor's address after the 7 July bombings was inspiring - fiercely defiant in its optimism and reassurances. This poster has none of that. Alone, it's just a blandishment.
Jules scrutinises the "We Are One" poster and jabs his finger to the logo in the bottom left corner. "What the fuck has British Gas got to do with it?" he asks incisively.
A further shake of the Jiffy bag and a freebie cosmetic sample for Mrs Vizard tumbles out. But wait, Slap Concealer(TM) is actually a clever mail-piece from Refuge (4) asking us to make a donation to the victims of domestic violence. I have to admire the agency for going to all this trouble and expense and I'm sure it will pay off by performing well in the gong-shows.
"Nice," Jules says. Rare praise. But then he deftly adds: "But if you can't do a nice ad on wife-beating, you deserve a beating." Wise words - remember them.
Next the bag yields three DVDs. First, British Airways (1) TV ads using Google Earth. For me this misses the point about what's so cool about Google Earth. What's cool is the interactivity - you decide where in the world you go. Tap in the postcode and you become a God, zooming at will through the stratosphere and landing on top of your girlfriend's mum's conservatory. The magic does not translate into broadcast.
"Saw it on the telly - looked shit," Julian concludes pithily.
More TV. Coca-Cola (2) in fridge-friendly formats. Two low-tech animations trundle-along sweetly - adding to the good work Coke is doing right now to make the corporation seem contemporary and cuddly. Jules smiles wistfully and says: "That Wieden & Kennedy one, the Grand Theft Auto one, that was the bollocks."
The third and final TV is for Kronenburg 1664 (6). It's got a proper big idea behind it. Too good to drink standing up. You've got to sit down and savour it like what the continentals do. A gentle, effortless spot and the brand's French credentials make Kroney's claim feel utterly convincing. "Simple," Jules says, nodding.
The last of the day to receive his unwavering scrutiny is some online work for Mini (3). He and I have spent so long pressing and re-pressing Firefox's Stumble Upon application, it has left us in a state of hollow-eyed addiction. Here, it appears Mini have car-jacked it to create a barmy, randomised search-engine burrowing deep into the web. It's really uncomplicated and absolutely true to Mini's idea of taking you on little adventures. I love it too. "Clever. bastards," says Jules.
DIGITAL - Sam Ball and Dave Bedwood, creative partners, Lean Mean Fighting Machine
With two of us doing what is essentially one man's job, it would seem fitting to start with the Greater London Authority (5), which proclaims "We Are One" by picking out these very letters from the sentence "We Are Londoners". Let's not shoot the messenger here as it's a clever observation simply executed, but our problem lies in the person who is ultimately sending out the message: Loose Lip Livingstone - the same man who was suspended for calling a fellow Londoner a Nazi. The sponsorship by British Gas gives this ad even less credibility.
We can judge the next ad as consumers, or as close to a consumer as creatives can get. This TV campaign encourages 25- to 35-year-old men to sit down and savour a Kronenbourg 1664 (6). A nice thought and something we enjoy doing, but not at all costs. Advertising is full of exaggerations; the ones that get away with stretching the truth do so because the pay-off is really funny or interesting. We were left thinking: "Nah, you'd never do that."
In this very space, someone recently wrote about context being everything, and the British Airways (1) campaign proves it. If you use Google Earth on your computer it is mind-blowing. You have complete control, can navigate anywhere in the world and zoom in with miraculous detail. Take this control away and all that's left is a look, and on TV, where we are used to amazing special effects, it's all a bit underwhelming. A great campaign for Google, an average one for BA.
We have never had any trouble fitting a can of Coke in the fridge, but Coca-Cola (2) has solved the problem anyway by designing a fridge-handy pack. These ads use that type of stop-frame animation as seen in the old Sledgehammer video. Maybe it's the painstaking effort that's been put in that provides its undisputed charm? Whatever the reason, they are enjoyable to watch and do a great job of making you feel peachy when there is nothing really to say.
This is an intriguing campaign for Mini (3) where we follow a car around different sites, despite being told it's not the way to the Mini site. It's nicely produced and the car looks splendid, also getting away with doing an online car ad without any mention of price or spec deserves a few clicks. The thing is, it felt a little shallow. We weren't really sure what it says about the car other than it's a bit quirky or odd. Maybe that's enough, but a lot of great Mini work has been done online, all of which is completely Mini in tone and idea. These ads, on the other hand, seem a little gimmicky. Nothing wrong with a gimmick, as long as you do it first - and unfortunately the idea of being taken on a tour through the internet has been done a few times before.
Two good ideas for Refuge (4) that attempt to raise awareness about the realities of domestic violence. The first is a free sample of concealer handed out at supermarkets, but on closer inspection reads: "Tested on women by animals." The other involves fruit stickers that say "Stop the bruising", which were distributed around offices. We preferred the latter; it gets the message to both sexes, is simpler and would have a greater chance of provoking discussion in the work environment.
Another advantage of reviewing as a team is that there's always someone else to blame - so if you don't agree with what we've said here, write to him not me.
1. BRITISH AIRWAYS
Project: BA World Offers promotion with Google Earth
Client: Jayne O'Brien, head of brands and marketing communications,
Brief: Promote BA's bi-annual World Offers sale
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Writer: Alex Grieve
Art director: Adrian Rossi
Exposure: National TV
Client: James Eadie, senior brand manager, Coca-Cola UK
Brief: Launch new product innovations specifically designed to celebrate
Art director: Mother
Director: Chris Cairns
Production company: Partizan
Exposure: National TV
Project: The white rabbit
Client: Ysabel Vazquez, marketing manager, Mini
Brief: Target culural influencers and trendsetters and take them to
destinations on the internet they would not have found for themselves
Art director: Scott Clark
Project: Biggest cover-up
Client: Sandra Horley, OBE, chief executive, Refuge
Brief: Expose the fact that one woman in four is affected by domestic
Agency: Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel
Writer: Rebecca Rae
Art director: Olu Falola
Exposure: Low-volume London distribution
5. GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY
Project: We Are One
Client: Greater London Authority
Brief: Celebrate London's multicultural diversity
Writers: Stephen Dunk, George Gremin
Art director: Andy Bird
Exposure: Outdoor, press, online
6. KRONENBOURG 1664
Project: Seat search
Client: Sharon Anette, marketing manager, premium lagers, Scottish &
Brief: Reposition Kronenbourg as the lager that is worth taking the time
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Tom Drew
Art director: Uche Ezugwu
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Another Film Company
Exposure: National TV
This article was first published on Campaign