Naresh Ramchandani, writing in yesterday's Guardian, finds Wieden + Kennedy's new ad for the Honda Civic 'a huge disappointment'. Damn. He says it's 'one of the better ads on telly. But by Honda's high standards it's not good enough.'
The benchmark he's using to judge us is a pretty high one. 'Honda's unprecedented ad consistency was reminiscent of Pixar's unprecedented movie consistency.' The Accord 'Cog' spot was our Toy Story, the Civic 'Everyday' spot was our Bug's Life, the FRV 'Circles' campaign was our Finding Nemo and the diesel 'Grrr' spot was 'an all-guns-blazing peak like Monsters Inc. or The Incredibles.'
Now, it's never great to be judged wanting. But if we are going to be judged wanting, it's flattering to be compared to Pixar, rather than, say, McCann. Now we know what we have to beat to be the best.
Naresh goes on to compare our production budgets to Pixar and remarks that 'Pixar would never invest that production budget on a script written in four or five weeks by a couple of creatives who, excuse the parody, were probably revising a couple of radio ads for Abbey and shooting a poster for Tampax at the same time.' I have to correct him on this misapprehension. 'Choir' took nearly a year's worth of dedicated work by a large team of people. I wish we could do it quicker with fewer people - it would make the agency a hell of a lot more profitable if we could - but it doesn't seem to work that way.
I'm also not sure that I agree with the article's contention that the Honda campaign has given hope to old school idealists that 'you could scrap all that (new media) nonsense and make an old-fashioned blockbuster commercial and it would still cut through the way it used to.'
We believe that the non-traditional use of media, such as inserting DVDs with the ads on into national press, circulating ads virally, using TV to drive people to web content and making films available to download online, has been key to the success of our work for Honda. They simply don't have the budget to outshout their competition via an 'old-fashioned blockbuster' TV campaign. We have to create content that's good enough for people to want to seek it out. Over 800,000 downloads of 'Choir' from Honda's website (see earlier 'Heavy Traffic' post) suggests that this is working.
Anyway, watch out, Pixar. We may have screwed up on 'Choir', but we'll get you next time.