Well, they’ve done it again. John Lewis nailed Christmas.

It’s the toughest gig in advertising, making the Christmas TV ad for John Lewis (and Waitrose combined these days).  The song has to be right (and the performance engaging), the story appealing, emotionally engaging but the right side of schmaltzy, well cast, capable of repeat viewing and building in a product message that doesn’t land a horrible anti-climax.

So this year Dougal Wilson (back behind the lens), of Blink, brings us Adam and Eve’s potential turkey.

But no, it’s a golden goose.

Actually it’s a cuddly young dragon called Edgar and his unlikely best friend little red-headed Ava.

Both being orphans (no parents grace our screens and Edgar lives alone in a little dragon house) the two wander around a medieval village wreaking havoc  (this is historically acceptable) with no-one to admonish their behaviour.  But this being JLP land the residents who are having their dreams wrecked by a fire-breathing monster only look on  mildly disdainfully, a series of heavenward looks simply say, ‘Oh Jeez, Ava and that pesky mite Edgar are at it AGAIN’.

Saint George is not brought in to their rescue and it’s Edgar who takes it upon himself to send himself to Coventry, whilst Ava camps outside like a human Greyfriar’s Bobby.

After a while Ava thinks, ‘Sod this’ and gives up her vigil returning, instead, to normal life. Later, whilst baking in her orphanage, she has a Damascan moment (she hasn’t completely given up on Edgar) when she suddenly realises that Edgar can be put to good use (see, she’s on it, she really IS A GOOD FRIEND) by purchasing a Christmas pudding from Waitrose for Edgar’s Christmas (Waitrose est. 1904, Acton, West London, so historically inaccurate).

Of course Edgar’s gift, which is really a gift for ALL of the residents of the medieval village, finally puts his fire-breathing to good effect by setting alight the brandy that the pudding is doused in.  The communal village dinner will be finished to perfection with 5 grammes per head of alcohol-sated dessert.

It’s all pretty ridiculous, but IT’S CHRISTMAS at JLP and it doesn’t actually matter.

What we have is a loveable fantasy enacted well by young Ava, to REO Speedwagon’s biggest hit, Can’t Fight This Feeling, performed by Bastille.

I cried.  So it worked.

 

Sir Frank Lowe’s genius

Lowe Howard Spink and CDP are the agencies that I most associate with this giant of the industry.

Now retired, he is interviewed by Dave Dye.

It’s a lesson in how advertising works.

In some ways the man in advertising I admire most – He was the ‘creative’ that wasn’t a ‘creative’.

https://davedye.com/2019/02/14/podcast-sir-frank-lowe/

Here’s a picture or two to treat your eyes as well as your ears.

What’s even greater is the video archive that accompanies this.

Enjoy.

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A breath of fresh air. Sweden’s Libresse ad by AMV BBDO.

Female hygiene product advertising has come a long way since Bodyform’s blue water absorbency demonstration.

Let’s face it, it’s a product area that carries a fairly high degree of throat clearing and knee crossing language in ‘polite households’ and isn’t the language that 50% of the population are comfortable using with the other 50%.

Here’s how the category is described in Wikipedia to give you an idea of what I mean

Female Hygiene (or menstrual hygiene products) are personal care products used by women during menstruation, vaginal discharge, and other bodily functions related to the vulva and vagina. 

Increasingly blood is replacing the blue test tube in this category, one of the few that, in my opinion, is holding onto the notion that ‘the big idea’ has real value in this dumbed down world of advertising that we live in.

I stumbled upon this commercial, from Sweden, for one of the aforementioned products while reading a piece on the new Gillette commercial which is nothing if not brave, but maybe a little laboured – I will write about it soon.

Anyway, I think you will enjoy its celebration of femininity in all its honesty.

Maybe it should carry a decency warning, but that would defeat the point of its existence.

It was created by AMV BBDO in London (the agency behind The Economist campaign) and directed by Kim Gehrig at Somesuch (she was responsible for the new Gillette ad and the excellent ‘This Girl Can” campaign for Sport England).

It’s interesting that the creative team is all-male. Art Director: Diego Cardoso de Oliveira
Copywriter: Caio Giannella.

But, as ever, in great advertising great credit has to go to the client who sanctioned it in the first place; Global Brand Communication Manager, Martina Poulopati.

It deservedly won a Gold at Cannes IMHO.

We live, in some small ways, in enlightened times after all.

The power of poster advertising. The fall of the Economist’s advertising intelligence.

In august last year I was asked to argue a debate in favour of big ideas over big data.  Little was I to know that my defence of the Big Idea could never be about to be validated more perfectly.

AMV, for many years, were the top agency in the UK and the jewel in the crown (creatively, not financially was The Economist).  Their advertising was legendary and I show some of it below.  It was always on posters and garnered more PR than it did sightings.  I rarely saw an Economist ad in the flesh but I knew them all.

Proximity now hold the account and the proudly stay

We use data-driven creativity to solve business problems

Their data driven creativity brings together a bunch of algorithms (I guess) to create an an ad on medium that ticks every box going.  And the result is a piece of communication that adds up to…well, zero.

It’s a sad day indeed to see how the Economist has abandoned its incredibly intelligent generation-long advertising campaign on posters for a TV spot that will simply make you cringe.

From these….

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To this….

Truly a sign of the times.