Lost in translation

Sheiße! What happens when an idea that seemed so good in the brainstorm process flatlines just after that? Well, if you have the time – you go back to square one. If you don’t have the time, you pull an all nighter and go back to square one. Not only is your client’s communication and brand-building strategy at stake, but so is the reputation of your agency and the creatives that put their names on the work.

Frese & Wolff from Germany produced this campaign for Animal Rights and… well… I think that somewhere along the way, the greatness of where it began got lost in translation. It’s not the fight for the safety or care of the monkeys, horses, pigs and minks’ lives I am disagreeing with – it’s the execution and the final product I am not buying.

“The term art director is a blanket title for a variety of similar job functions … but an art director unifies the vision. In particular, the art director is in charge of the overall visual appearance and how it communicates visually, stimulates moods, contrasts features, and psychologically appeals to a target audience…” – Wikipedia.

It must be said, I don’t think the concept here is the problem. However, someone chose very pretty models with no acting experience whatsoever. Stills or moving, believing feeling is all about expression and comes down to what a talented performer can offer with their eyes. It is either believable or not, and these I am sorry to say are not. Look at Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny and James Franco; these are artists that whether pretty or not, can convey emotion and power in a stills shoot as much as in a scene for a film. And if it’s unknown faces you are after, there are models with the same abilities and who can access the same depth of emotion.

“One of the most difficult problems that art directors face is to translate desired moods, messages, concepts, and underdeveloped ideas into imagery,” says Wikipedia again. I don’t think this work is short on merit in terms of concept. I just think the execution is weak. None of these models convey an experience of pain equivalent to what the animals would. To be honest, they all just look a little constipated if you ask me.

What do you think?

Credits: Advertising Agency: Frese & Wolff, Oldenburg, Germany | Creative Directors: Uwe Linthe, Ingo Steuber | Art Director: Thorsten Abeln | Graphic Designer: Alexander Wille | Photographer: Tim Thiel | Published: December 2010

6 Billion people on the planet. One bore her soul.

There are over six billion people on this planet. That’s six billion opinions, thoughts for and against. Against Palestine. Against Israel. Wagers in the war against terror. Think then, what will we wage in the war against HIV?

We are moved in so many different ways. We are angered quickly. We choose to fight before we choose to hug. If we could be moved to be more involved, we might be getting somewhere. Isn’t storytelling the easiest way to spread the word and be understood? Pictures are not limited to languages or translations, and although they may paint preconceived notions of with whom and where this disease exists, they certainly get the message across.

At the 57th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Ogilvy Johannesburg won South Africa’s first Gold Film Lion in 11 years for The Topsy Foundation; a spot produced by Egg Films in Cape Town. Many people opened their hearts to take this story from concept to completion. Many people gave of their time. Some may have confronted their fears. One person bore her soul. In a world where Susan Boyle, Lady Gaga and Avril Lavigne break records on YouTube with hundreds of millions of hits, we sit with less than a collective 25 000 views globally of an 85-second Public Service Announcement that has only one message you should really want to know: The effects of AIDS can be reversed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6zCNdEfm5w

Buckle up. Or buckle under.

It’s no joke. Death. Mourning. The financial issues. An absent parent. All the elements creators are playing on here, and just why they go from funny to everything but funny in 90 seconds. To me, the young girl’s performance is the most memorable in this spot, produced by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership. Tangible and vulnerable enough to convey who would suffer the most from the unthinkable; enlivened in a simple setting with direction that takes this moment from light to dark in slow motion.

A thousand shiny moments are not that pretty when it’s the glass from your windscreen and not a kiddies table, covered in sequins and thrown into the air. “Embrace Life. Always wear your seat belt” – portrayed in this treatment by those who would be left most affected should the driver make it through the accident without one on. After seeing this, you’d have to be a moron not to wear yours.

Buckle up. Or buckle under.

Burnt Advertising. Good idea gone bad.


You know the feeling. A commercial starts so nicely you can’t help but being pulled in. You lean forward in your seat and wait for the double-clutch moment that drives home the message with style. The music, the lighting, the direction and the performances all work in harmony to tell you a story about the product, and why you shouldn’t want to live without it. Seems simple enough. Anyone working in advertising will tell you it’s not though and that the road to advertising-redemption puts every creative at a crossroads everyday, with every job.

With every story, movie or message comes the moment where you can liberate your message and leave it indelibly in the minds of your audience, or you can so badly misunderstand why you went into advertising in the first place, and lose the plot altogether that another day at the office should be questionable. “Burnt Toast” for Warburtons Bread by RKCR/Y&R in the UK ticks all the latter boxes for me. When does something go from witty to worthless, or clever to clumsy? Watch this TVC and to check it out. It happens at the 19” mark. The idea’s a seller. The execution is not. The fine line between ‘success’ and ‘silly’ is crossed and they have done themselves a disservice. It was so close to being there but didn’t quite make it, and unlike bread that has been in the oven too long, it is more like a premature baking flop. Pity. Nice William Orbit tune though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2C_gxH2PAs

Did it work for you?

Ripe and ready. The Magners method.

Camaraderie is such an inspiring human behaviour to witness. Anyone watching the World Cup will agree. So while ball-sports are the order of the day, Magners Irish Cider is still on the guest list. A little different in pace to what dominates our lives this June and July, 2010 – and therein lies the memorable moment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN5fLRAT-nA

UK based agency The Red Brick Road aligns the story of a small town cricket team having been unbeatable for a record 75 years – the same amount of time they have been harvesting apples for Magners Cider. Ageing cricket players teamed with younger fitter ones make up a team of players that seem to get their practice from their lifestyle and livelihood – they never miss a falling cider apple. Practice makes perfect and this team is very definitely getting the right practice. Great performances and nice direction result in a clean-cut message.

I don’t think their print ad is as powerful however. I’m not sure whether it is a tighter execution to the copy that would have made it as memorable as the TVC or a different choice of visual. The languid man doesn’t look like he is having to trust his senses but rather that he is looking for the answer to life from an apple. Both will resonate with an audience in partnership with the other however, so the campaign is no doubt a sure hit. What say you?

Come as you are. Gay burgers accepted.

We’re ok with two men holding guns, but two men holding hands? Not so much. Read it anyway you want, there’s still a long way to go before everyone gets the same acceptance in everyday situations, no questions asked. So it’s quite something when a brand attaches itself to homosexuality with favour. Few have done it, but those who have, have certainly made a statement. Ergo, I like the French offering from McDonald’s called “Come as You Are”. There is little more affecting than the elephant in the room when one person has a secret to tell and assumes the other is not going to want to hear it.

What resonates for me with this spot is that no product or promo is being sold and there is no cheesy exchange of service brilliance. There is simply a soothing reminder that everyone is welcome at McDonald’s, told tenderly between furtive whispers, nervous glances and a moment of suspense in the climax where a son sees that the distance between him and his father is nothing but obvious.

Television commercials are wonderful opportunities to tell stories that leave an indelible impression. This one wins and delivers realistic performances in a neatly packaged spot that successfully puts the brand into the subject of conversations. In a few days, you will still remember who it was for, you are likely to tell a friend, and where it goes from there is only limited to the vast atmosphere of social networking. I’m sold, are you?

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