When I was approached by LBB’s Hannah Baines to contribute to High Five, I thought ‘this should be easy’. I mean, given the brilliance and power of decades of memorable advertising. Instantly I had three ‘absolutes’ nailed on. Then. Nothing. Nothing else that made me think ‘yes, that’s another one’. So maybe it wasn’t going to be that easy - and it hasn’t been. But thankfully not for that reason. When it came to it, one thought triggered another, one ad made me think of another, and I’ve had the joyous task of whittling down a long list I think’s pretty awesome. Not wishing to choose too many already picked, out went Cadbury’s 'Gorilla', Apple’s 'Here’s to the Crazy Ones', 'Cog' from Honda, The Guardian's 'Points of View' and Costa Coffee’s 'Singing Heads' (oh that still makes me smile) amongst others. Leaving me, and you, with the following five...
Persil - 'RoboBoy'
Agency: BBH London
Production: Bikini Films
Post: The Mill
A beautiful message brilliantly brought to life. Before 'RoboBoy' (and since in most cases) washing detergent ads have followed the same old formula: bright, brisk, breezy. Shiny happy faces laughing when cute kids get covered in dirt. Cut to mum smelling that ultra-fresh clothing coming out of the washing machine in springtime. Finished off with half-screen comparisons of biological supremacy. This ad took mundane and functional washing detergent and introduced heartfelt emotion. I just love the message - the robot awakens and, as it interacts with nature, it becomes more human, steadily changing into a child as it experiences air, leaves, rain and worms! It’s such a positive message that all kids need to ‘get out there’. They need to have fun and learn in the real world, and if there’s a bit of mud or dirt involved, ‘so what, don’t let that hold them back, Persil have got that covered’. Gets me right there.
Audi - 'Bull'
Agency: BBH London
Audi were on a roll producing some stunning cars. BBH were on a roll producing some stunning ads. The question Audi posed their agency was: 'How do you tame a beast of a car like the Audi RS6?' The answer BBH conceived was this stunningly made ad. You take an animal that’s ferocious, unpredictable, and can’t be tamed - like a bull, and, err, you tame it! The Audi RS6 is a car of brute force and sheer power. But those clever chaps at Audi also harnessed all that raw performance, giving the driver absolute control, and this ad perfectly conveys that. It’s got tension, a touch of apprehension, a sense of foreboding even. But ultimately, it delivers the message that the RS6 is a masterful car that delivers absolute control over stunning power.
Channel 4 - 'Meet the SuperHumans'
Just packed full of power, intensity, pride and confidence. Shot beautifully, and with a spot-on soundtrack perfectly underlining all that was being said, for the first time for many viewers, people with disabilities were right there, front and centre. Unapologetic in its attitude and ambition, the ad didn’t shy away, it demanded attention. I just remember being hit between the eyes, seeing the sheer effort, passion and commitment of a new set of athletes and warriors. This ad has to be one of the most impactful and effective pieces of communication when it comes to driving the change in how we all view people and athletes with disabilities. Simply brilliant.
NSPCC - 'Alfie the Astronaut'
Agency: Leo Burnett London
Post: Whitehouse Post
A touching and ultimately uplifting spot delicately balancing hard-hitting subject matter with a message of hope and positivity. Telling a harrowing true story, the ad shows the huge importance of the work the NSPCC does to rebuild lives, giving children back their childhood and the freedom to dream again. Where this ad really lands for me lies in it’s juxtaposition between the positive visuals we see of Alfie’s imagination, hopes and dreams, and the unflinching narrative recounting the dreadful reality he and his mother have experience. A brilliant mix of not holding back whilst leaving you feeling uplifted, the idea felt different to more familiar routes taken by charities appealing for donations.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence - 'Guns with History: The Gun Shop'
Agency: Grey New York
Production: Rival School Pictures New York
This one, this one just makes me cry to be honest. Part of a campaign against guns and gun violence, it boldly takes an incredibly poignant and raw approach to get it’s message across. The organisation SUTPGV opened a real gun shop in NY (alongside a website) stocked with guns that all had a sad history. Each had a tragic story of violence and death. When shoppers expressed an interest in a specific gun in-store, they were told the real life story behind it. 80% of those shoppers changed their mind and didn’t purchase the gun (20%, what were you doing?). The organisation also saw a 1250% increase in petition signatures. Listen to the stories, watch people’s faces. Hugely powerful stuff.