Monday, November 21, 2011

It's all alien to me

So what to make of the new Argos Xmas ad.

What starts as a nice idea is spoiled by a seeming desire to describe in full detail the booking and ordering process. The 1m version does so in such an obvious way that it switched me off from the whole ad. I wish CHI had focused on the entertaining part of the idea, and made the whole piece absorbing rather than trying to stick a couple of jokes in to make up it.

I don't think it's a strectch to say this ad is very much based on the Smash Martians. Aliens observe the human way of doing things and comment on it... the difference was that John Webster made the Smash Martians lovable and silly, the benefits and message were wrapped up in a way which made them feel part of the idea. They were ramshackle and cheap, but that made them engaging. The writing was natural and you couldn't help but follow along. Nothing wrong with being inspired by one of the best ads ever made, but don't forget to be influenced by what made it so good too.

The Argos aliens look too polished, too human; and instead of feeling like characters you can laugh along with or relate to, you feel like every word they say is being targeted at you as a customer, not as a person watching TV. It's as if a client wrote the copy, and that's rarely a good thing.

It's a shame really, the idea is there; and being from CHI the talent is clearly there, but this ad just doesn't achieve what it could. I hope that they can take the idea and do something better with it, it has the potential.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beyond the Hype - John Lewis Xmas Ad

When the first couple of ads in a series are received extraordinarily well, it gets harder and harder to live up to the hype. Just ask W+K with Honda, or Fallong with Cadbury's.

I get the feeling from some of the comments that the latest John Lewis ad is suffering from this. After the fantastic 'Always a Woman' ad, and some other good pieces, this year's Christmas ad has a lot to live up to.

Lucky then, that the ad is absolutely brilliant. It shows beautifully the impatience of a child at Christmas, how their perspective on time changes. It's funny (the bit where it cuts to the nativity dress made me laugh out loud) and surely would make anyone smile and feel positive about the brand.

The nice little twist at the end is brilliant, and several people I know with kids said it made them cry. Those who know the unconditional love that kids have for their parents seem to get hit like a bullet at that moment; that the kid shares the joy of giving. But you don't need kids to be moved by this ad, you just have to be able to remember what it was like being a kid.

Despite some criticism I think the song is spot on. The cover fits the style used previously by John Lewis, and the words are totally apt. Who cares if it's a Smiths song? Clearly they were happy to let it be used so why should you care?

An ad that blazes a red hot trail right throught the traditional bright red stodgy promotional Christmas fare, and truly captures the spirit of the season for families everywhere. No artificial cheerful bollocks here, this is full on brand understanding of its audience and the people they are buying for.

Somewhere a brand manager asked 'Please please please let me get what I want'. Santa delivered.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not Again...

If you haven't learnt by now that musical agency promo videos should stay internal only...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rob in Berlin - Part 1

I've just returned from a mad week and a bit in Berlin. I have to say, what a city. I absolutely loved it. Over the next few days I am going to post a little about my experiences there...

The Hotel

Oh. My. God.
I have never seen nor heard of a hotel like the nhow Berlin. It's bright and bold and stylish and colourful. I saw it online and knew I had to stay there... as a huge music/architecture fan it looked like a great place.

My first impressions were good, the reception is amazing. Then they said as I was staying a long time I had been given a free upgrade! I walked into a decent sized room, decorated in a way I can safely say matches no other hotel in the world. Mental, but bright, bold and comfortable.

Then I realised that I had four big windows with a view of the river Spree in three directions!

The TV set is built into a reflective unit that also holds the desk, attached to the wall with no feet... you can plug in your ipod or any device with headphones... which I did.
The bar was even better than the rooms. This place looked incredible. I spent hours sat in the bar looking at all the different designs and styles of the furniture and layout.

Sure the bright colours will annoy some people, but if it was done so everyone liked it it wouldn't be half as good.
Even better, the service was brilliant throughout. With nice staff who spoke English very well (despite my best attempts at German, I am by no means a good speaker), and were always happy to help in any way they could.

I have to mention Nadine and Caroline who worked at the bar. They were cheerful, nice to talk to and always happy to help. They even avoided laughing when I left a full glass of beer when the evening's drinking caught up with me quickly and I nipped off to bed before I fell off the stool!

When I turned up to the bar with my luggage for an apple juice they both pulled sad faces, which is exactly the kind of friendly service I like, not the straight, upper lip service most hotels aim for.

In fact this hotel should be a lesson to every major hotel chain that uniformly aiming at bland smartness and 'expensive slickness' is not the only way. You can create places with individual charm, character and genuinely good people. The hotel was perfect for this part of Berlin, and I have to say I enjoyed staying there more than any hotel I have ever been to.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Howdy folks.
I've had a lot going the past few weeks so apologies for the lack of posts!

I'm off on holiday for a week or so, normal service shall resume when I return; in the meantime there may be some comments from Berlin, if I stop partying long enough ;)