This month’s best UK advertising depicts life in 2019 in a way that pushes things forwards, writes LBB’s Alex Reeves – in association with the APA
Sometimes when advertising is clumsy, it has a habit of holding up a mirror to what it thinks society looks like, in the hope that people will think “this brand really gets me”. But reflecting the world we live in, when done skilfully, can reshape the world for the better, make people feel deeply and, as a result, build the brands paying for the advertising into things people care about. This month’s best UK advertising made its mark, however small, on my heart. Yuck. That sounds like I’ve been writing about advertising for too long. But I have to give it to the people who made these campaigns - it’s true.
Britain’s Beer Alliance - The Horn’s Lodge
The Cricketers, The Old Manor, Pavlov’s Dog, The Cavendish, The White Horse. These are just some of the pubs that mean something to me, that have lodged themselves in my psyche and become part of who I am. Pubs are important to British people. And, as the team at Havas behind this campaign for Britain’s Beer Alliance know, it’s not just because Brits are partial to a beer or twelve. You can probably find a spare six minutes to watch the cutdown of the documentary they made. You should. If you’re British, it will remind you of just how much you appreciate the communities that pubs create; and if you’re not, it will teach you a lot about British culture. If you’ve got half an hour spare, you should watch the whole film. You might cry.
CALM - Comedy Festival in an Ad Break
This is the second High Five appearance for the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), the UK charity fighting suicide, which remains the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. Not only is that because it’s a worthy cause to support, but also because it seems to inspire innovative and powerful work in whoever partners with the charity for its advertising. This time UKTV Creative collaborated with CALM to deliver a masterclass in native content on its comedy channel Dave - a ‘Comedy Festival in an Ad Break’ featuring some of the nation’s sharpest comics performing actually funny (not just ‘funny, for an ad’) material on the subject of being a supportive friend. It’s a good laugh and it will likely save lives.
Channel 4 - Complaints Welcome
Podcast godfather and well-known nice guy Scroobius Pip once came up with a brilliant tagline for his record company, Speech Development Records: “We may not be for you… and that’s fine.'' The same line could easily be applied to British commercial broadcaster Channel 4, which has persistently left certain viewers ticked off since it began transmitting in 1982. And the channel’s latest campaign for its upcoming programming takes that fact and fully runs with it. Channel 4 was always supposed to ruffle certain feathers. Its remit is to challenge our perspectives and push boundaries. The Alex Boutell-directed trailer demonstrates that perfectly, with a wry smile throughout, putting real viewers’ complaints into the mouths of the channel’s most beloved (and resented) stars, from Bake Off’s Sandi Toksvig to sitcom ensemble The Derry Girls and artist Grayson Perry. I stan them all.
Guinness - Liberty Fields
For the past few years Guinness and AMV BBDO have forged ahead with an approach to the brand’s advertising that takes the purpose-driven spirit of the times and coats it in a hard outer shell of, as LBB’s Laura Swinton put it in her recent feature on this campaign, “the let’s-get-on-with-it spirit of rugby”. That’s why the ferrous Irish tipple is the perfect brand to associate itself with the sport through its advertising. Much like Guinness’ previous explorations of the most admirable characters in rugby (supporting Wales’ Gareth Thomas in his coming-out journey was a particular highlight), these two sister films directed by Stink’s Eliot Rausch and Mackenzie Sheppard bring to light an unexpected story that deserves to be celebrated. This time the TVC and longform documentary honours Japan’s pioneers of women’s rugby, recognising all the challenges they faced and the resolve they showed. It’s genuinely inspiring stuff.
McCain - Differences
We’ve seen a lot of brands dip their toes into the division that Brexit embodies for British society, but this is the first time I can think of a brand actually mentioning the “leave and remain kind of differences” driving a wedge between families up and down the nation. Yeah. They went there. This is adam&eveDDB’s third instalment in its We Are Family series for frozen potato company McCain, celebrating the emotional impact of the differences that exist within real families across the UK. And, for me, it’s the most punchy execution. Politics is only one of the divisions that the ad argues can be bridged through the magic of oven chips. It interrogates different perspectives on subjects from home life, school, sports and technology, to religion, gender, politics and sexual identity. And it totally nails it, painting one of the best pictures of today’s diverse Britain I’ve seen. It actually made me patriotic. And hungry for a plate of chips.