Archive | June, 2012

Code Club

22 Jun

I was nice about an ad last time so it’s only fair that I can expose a villain today. And it’s not so much villainous in its lack of idea (it has one) – it is just the way the idea has been squandered.

Here it is folks:

It’s a great message – teach your kids to code and they will be tomorrow’s web entrepreneurs. But the acting, the editing and the writing let it down. Unless of course it was put together entirely by a class of schoolkids in which case I feel terrible….

But let’s assume it was created by an ad agency of some kind.

An advertising trope that I struggle with (one of many I’m afraid) is kids talking like adults. Why can’t kids talk like kids? Did no one in the room have kids? And I know the idea is that the kids aren’t impressed by the boffins who, between them, have enough billions to buy most of the world, but why do the little’uns have to speak like adults? Kids don’t use the same sentence structure or intonation as adults so they will never sound natural when they are made to. And if they don’t sound natural, they sound like they are acting. It feels fake. The trick is to create something fake – a panel of kids interviewing people – and make it feel real.

Then we get to the people being turned down. Does anyone else feel it’s a bit, well, dirty, like something has been desecrated? Tim Berners-Lee used as a fence for a gag about coding? Why wouldn’t the kids know who he is, or what Bebo, Skype, Lastminute.com are? It’s a conceit, right? But it doesn’t work, does it? Because the kids look stupid. A nine year old who doesn’t know what YouTube is? Seriously, these kids need more than lessons on coding.

And what’s with the ending? They book UK Trade Ambassador Prince Andrew because of his Mum. This is the bit I’m sure the kids must have written themselves. The ad is leading somewhere and I’m waiting for a reveal, or a point, or anything, and it just fizzles out.

I’m left wondering what the team behind Code Club ¬†want me to do having seen their viral. The call to action is ‘get your school involved’. Is this because the kids in the ad don’t know any of the people who ‘own’ the internet, nor any of their creations, and we need to do something quick to change this? Or have the kids just put together a really tough recruitment brief and no one apart from the Queen (not known for being that tech savvy) is good enough. The truth is we aren’t told.

And one last pedantic point. Tim Berners-Lee excluded, none of the people they interview are coders, or got anywhere by coding. They are ideas people. Other people wrote code so that their ideas could fly. It’s like having Allan Carr and Jonathan Ross telling kids to learn how to build TVs, or Zadie Smith and Iain Banks telling kids to learn how printing works.

Coding for Kids is a nice idea, it just needs to tell its story a little better.

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Beautiful lottery ad

20 Jun

An ad has never made me cry before. Cry with frustration maybe, but not cry with any proper and appropriate emotion. But this one just did.

It’s beautiful and sad and the message isn’t swallowed up by the window dressing. A woman never got the opportunity to run competitively and now, thanks to lottery funding, her daughter (who has the running gene too) can compete for Team GB.

I love so much about this ad. I love the sadness of the mum having to give up on her own dream and the joy of seeing it realised through her daughter. I love her hope that her passion for running would live on in her daughter. I love the way it’s written, I love the way it’s shot, I love the way she says ‘I will run with her’ at the end. Best of all I love how intrinsic the lottery is to the message. No lottery, no funding for Jenny Meadows.

It’s a proper tear jerker for a brand that sells tickets for a quid to people who want to be millionaires. From feeling indifferent to the National Lottery, I now feel proud about it. I feel proud about Jenny Meadows, her mum and Team GB. And any ad that can do that is pretty special.

It’s all happening on the Tube

18 Jun

I’m not great at taking photos in tube trains. I feel weird. And when I’m taking photos of ads in tube trains I feel like a complete freak, so I tend not to do it. Still, a couple of tube cards have caught my eye in the last month and I apologise in advance that the following photos are not my own. This one made me happy, but for the wrong reasons:

I have come to detest the Evening Standard. Maybe it always was a venal, right wing rag intent on scandalising the commuter belt, but at least in the old days we had to pay for it. Now it’s free and infecting all who read it with the same venom as the Express and the Mail. Yes, the paper I am reading is rubbish, but I’m bored and it’s that or deleting photos from my phone for the next 15 minutes.

And then there is this:

Only this isn’t it. The one I want but can’t find on the web has a pinstripe suited business leader saying ‘Who cares about Greece? I’m waiting until Ireland goes on sale’. Now, I don’t know who the man is, and I know very little about the current economic crisis. So much so that I don’t know if the ad is ironic or super smart.

The line underneath is ‘for business people with more sense than money’. I’m assuming that the ad is selling me share trading, or a business website, or some kind of economic commentary. But no. It’s selling me conference calling. Only it isn’t, because it has just confused the heck out of me.

In fact, as you can see from the ad I found on the internet that sits in the same campaign, they are now being defaced. Way to go powwowwow. I hope your conference calling business goes from strength to strength. Maybe next time you should try telling people what it is you do and why they should use you. Just a thought.