We’ve all seen the headlines on youth unemployment, that it has breached the one million mark. Imagine it. One million young people not in work and not in full time education. One of the lesser-reported facts is that even in the boom times, pre 2008, the percentage of 16-18 year old school leavers out of work was consistently on the rise. To explain that, you can pick whatever political stance turns you on, but the fact remains that our economy is not creating enough entry-level roles for non grads – and it’s not just because of the global downturn.
So what can we do about it?
Our industry body, the IPA, have been very busy working with Skillset, the skills council for the creative industries, to secure government funding for apprenticeship schemes, tailor-made for our sector. That work is almost complete. And as a member of the IPA’s Future of Talent Strategy Group, I’ve been part of an industry-wide steering committee tasked with helping Skillset to define the skills needed for those schemes. The final online consultation is now running until the 20th of March and all advertising professionals are being asked to have their say. Please do take a look and help us make the scheme as good as it can be.
Christmas is a lovely time. Food, drink, kids, family, presents, what’s not to like? A shame it comes but once a year! (Shush there, Scrooge at the back).
Another essential part of this wonderful annual bonanza of festive fun and frivolity is the compulsory one-minute-plus Christmas ad from every major retailer.
Presumably planned and conceived back in the sweltering, sultry dog days of mid-summer, these high-budget, low-concept pieces of the advertising art have taken on a stature and meaning out of all proportion to their likely impact on sales.
Charlie Brooker in the Guardian has already lacerated this year’s crop with his typically hilarious and coruscating prose. No attempt to match his professional wit will be attempted here. Instead, presented below is a personal creative review of some of the more high-profile efforts.
Tesco. 40 seconds of rather forced alliteration over slow-mo happy scenes followed by 10 seconds of a smiley member of staff delivering a stilted promise to ‘help keep Christmas special’ wins no prizes for originality or memorability. Tesco sells all the things you’d expect them to sell for Christmas. Including mince pies. Who’d have thought it?
Sainsbury’s. Jamie’s last hurrah. Bless his patronising little cotton socks how we’ll miss him. Our last view of the cheery cherub sees him laying on a lavish spread for the cast of a truly crazy pantomime. It’s all very colourful and wacky. Smash those garlic cloves! Some food product shots but thankfully nothing so crass as a sales message. No obvious message at all come to think of it. See ya Jamie.
Morrisons. Oh Freddie, where did it all go wrong? Professional Yorkshireman and sometime cricketer uses trustworthy no-nonsense accent interspersed with images of smiling kids and the occasional cheeky raised eyebrow to let us know that this particular supermarket sells all the same Christmas staples as all the other supermarkets. Only more jingly.
Waitrose. The unlikely couple return to offer more bespoke delights, from the classic to the conceptual. Christmas at Waitrose all about the food, which at least gives this overly-long and iconoclastically self-indulgent film a degree of focus. Stands out simply by being moderately classy amidst their rivals’ unimaginative fare, though that is something of a limited compliment.
Boots. An epic mashup of movie imagery sees Charlie’s Angels meet Mission Impossible in Matrix-style execution of Home Alone. Santa gets the elbow in this high-octane vision of devastating Christmas night planning efficiency. It’s quite fun and zany, certainly more visually interesting than the big supermarkets’ interchangeable smiley-kids imagery. And they have made something of a campaign rather than just one big statement ad.
Argos. Aliens come to Earth and are bemused at the bizarre things we humans do, wondering aloud why we don’t all just adopt the obvious and easy option. Hands up if you’ve heard this before somewhere. Also, hands up if you find a copywriter able to do more than repeat the client brief out loud.
Iceland. Celebrity(ish) singer drives home to multi-million pound house full of multitudinous family tucking in to a monstrous spread delivered moments earlier by a cheery Iceland delivery driver. While singing. It’s hard to conceive of imagery less relevant to the mum-heroes Iceland is trying to reach.
Matalan. Less an ad, more a creative device and mood film with a soundtrack. Manages to convey a little more Christmas magic than some, but cannot avoid offering much the same identikit cute-kid and all-around-the-tree imagery as pretty much everyone else. Sweet enough but forgotten in less time than the minute it lasts.
Marks & Spencers. Unlikely to win any creative awards. Or music awards. Doesn’t mention any products. Or make any sort of brand claim at all. But, this campaign stands out for its distinctiveness and for being more culturally relevant than those of pretty much any competitor. Whether you like the X-Factor or not.
John Lewis. It’s wonderful. But you already knew that. It has an actual proposition. It’s shot with a beautifully deft touch, strikes a perfect tone and communicates everything you could ever need to know about John Lewis. Work this good should make everyone else in adland look at themselves in the mirror and ask why they aren’t making stuff like this. John Lewis is just a shop after all, it’s not as if there’s any reason their rivals can’t make the same claims. The difference is not the product, it’s in the courage and ambition shown.
So there we have it. A depressing bunch of executions, if truth be told, with the one glorious exception. John Lewis’s effort is so much better than all the others that it’s like watching Usain Bolt turn up for the dads race at school sports day.
The supermarkets, with the exception of Waitrose, have produced work so indistinguishable that you could swap the logos, claims, products and endlines around without causing any obvious confusion.
Marks and Spencers have at least sought to give themselves some cultural topicality. Boots has the best gags and a coherent campaign message.
But they all cower in the shadow of the latest in a stunning series of ads from John Lewis.
Justin Clouder-Planning Director
The lucky 13 (with staff from every department) sampled a wide selection of short films, drinks, installations, like minded geeks & toys over a most enjoyable evening and it’s fair to say we all came away with a greater respect for the mighty zombie chicken!! thanks to Studio AKA.
There was a time when controversy was a genuinely new and powerful advertising strategy. When the placing of images which were truly shocking on large billboards caused debate and outrage and could even be said to have contributed to social change.
A man dying of AIDS. A bloody, bullet-riddled shirt. Death-row inmates. Mating horses. And (oddly enough, the one which attracted the most complaints) a just-born baby covered in mucus and with umbilical cord still attached.
Benetton ads, of course. From the 1990s. Before the internet. When these topics were still major social issues and the campaign really did generate debate and discussion amid all the frothing affront and righteous indignation.
Oliviero Toscani, the Italian photographer behind these images (but since 2000 no longer Benetton’s go-to man for advertising campaigns) is an interesting and articulate man and a passionate defender of his art. He makes a compelling case for the presentation of images of uncomfortable real life and has continued to confront issues such as anorexia and prejudice in recent years.
Benetton, however, seems to have forgotten everything which made the iconic United Colours campaign of the 1990s so powerful as well as so controversial. The recent ‘unhate’ ads showing world leaders in amorous embraces offers none of the social activism and poignancy, offering instead mere crude offence in place of topical issue confrontation.
Insensitivity and inflamatory rather than iconoclastic, the ‘unhate’ posters are sad parody of what Benetton attempted in the dying days of the last millenium. They haven’t even had the nerve to see it through, caving in to Vatican pressure over one particular image with such speed that the sound of backpedalling echoed across continents. They actually apologised for “offending sensibilities”. Wasn’t that the whole point? Or maybe there never was any real point.
It’s all rather sad.
Planning Director- Addiction London
Our Greenalls Sponsorship went live last night, which is a little exciting for the team. This piece in particular is a perfect demonstration of connected creativity, a collaborative effort from start to finish.
We think it’s turned out pretty nice, safe to say the team might be enjoying a cheeky gin to celebrate tonight.
A little while ago we told you of Jeremy’s tales in China, now Becca Saraga our Global Business Development Director, has gone on her own mission with the IPA to Silicon Valley. She has gathered her thoughts together and written a piece for Info Vision.
Focussing on Day 5 of the trip, Becca talks about Lionsgate and how they have embraced the digital age and are continuing to innovate within the industry. From Dirty Dancing’ s Facebook page to virtual humans….yep that’s right virtual humans, that look and behave like real people, she gives a glimpse into the exciting developments across the pond.
There has been a lot of talk about what the digital trends for 2012 will be, we think these guys may have cracked it…..
We’re always fond of a meme video, enjoy and happy Friday!
This week one of the biggest conferences in the media calendar, the Promax Conference, has been taking place. The event attracts over 600 delegates from around the UK and abroad. After sponsoring Promax New York earlier in the year, we were very pleased to be a part of it once again.
The conference wraps up with the Promax Awards, which reward the best in creative, strategy and innovation over the last year. So we are super excited to announce, that Addiction has been nominated for Best Direct Response Promo, for our Adidas competition. The competition aimed to get as many MTV viewers as possible, to enter the competition of a lifetime - to meet and interview Plan B, Caspa, Example and The Enemy, travel the country to watch some pretty amazing gigs and best of all, co-host their very own TV show with the beautiful Laura Whitmore. Not bad eh? So fingers crossed for tomorrow.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, our Head of Design, Ben Collier-Marsh has also been nominated for Best Short Film. If you would like to find out more about the Short Film award click here. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed for you Ben!! Have a little peeps at his film……
Triangle Love Brief Synopsis….
The piece at its purest level is an appreciation of the triangle. The animation explores an abstract narrative using the triangle as the catalyst. It explores how simple things develop and grow within science & nature, showing how action and reaction lead this process.
Adam Rowe, our 3D animator extraordinaire, has done it again! He’s claimed yet another victory in a music meets animation competition held by Imagine Animation . Imagine joined forces with Dolby and Acer, and briefed competitors to interpret a 30 second clip from a Faithless track in a visual manner. Adam’s fairly abstract interpretation was underpinned by a smart rational tying it to the track, which definitely won the judges (and us!) over.
You can watch the winning piece here:
Oh, and the prize includes a shiny new laptop and a home theatre system. Addiction Movie Nights are at yours then Adam!
Ps. You can check out Adam’s last prize winning bit of work here http://bit.ly/hTK9Ab
The pencil, Burt, handle bar, mutton chops, the goatee and finally the handelbar with a chin puff….. Not your average office chat, but Addiction has decided to take part in Movember!! The Mo Bros, have had their clean shaven photos taken this morning, with the Mo Sistas by there side.
The idea behind Movember is, on the first of November you clean shave and then for the rest of the month, you groom and trim a beautiful moustache (for those who can’t grown them properly, its a pretty tough month). Mo Sistas support these poor guys, by seeking out sponsorship and thinking of inventive ways to raise more funds. The money raised is then given to The Prostate Cancer Charity and The institute of Cancer Research. Its massively fun and for a very worthy cause. If you would like to find out how to register click here.
Check out some of the team’s fresh faced look below and we will no doubt be posting more pics soon, for you to laugh at. Happy Movember!!
Things have been getting a little spooky here at Addiction HQ. Pretty much everyone got dressed up (any excuse!), carved some rather hilarious pumpkins and drank some gruesome punch (beer). Oh and there was also some extreme apple bobbing, which Matt Thomas excelled at. Take a peek at some of the highlights….
The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising has for the past few years ran a series of UK events with the Chinese business community and taken part in UKTI-backed trade missions to China to help build relationships with Chinese brands and the country’s advertising industry.
Our CEO Jeremy was invited to attend the most recent trip, which took place from the 22nd-27th September 2011. The group, led by IPA President Nicola Mendelsohn, attended the Chinese International Advertising Festival in Shenyang.
Jeremy Rainbird with UK Design Mission delegates, including Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com.
Designed to promote the UK as a creative and innovation hub to the world, the trip included a series of workshops, seminars and networking events with Chinese brand owners, Chinese ad agencies, government and students.
When the group visited Beijing, they met with leading Chinese brands and representatives of eminent Chinese ad agencies. They also toured the manufacturing plant of Snow Beer, the largest beer manufacturer in China, and were guests of the number one Chinese brand, China Mobile.
Full details and photos from the mission are available on the IPA website: http://www.ipa.co.uk/Content/IPA-reporting-from-Beijing-and-the-CIAF