Of all the creative teams I’ve most enjoyed worked with, Colin and Alex come pretty high on the list. Partly, that’s because they often came up with cracking ideas. But also, it’s because they always came up with presentable ideas, cracking or otherwise. It didn’t matter how woolly or complicated the brief, or how little time was available – if you briefed Colin and Alex, you could be sure that by the time the clients came in (even if that was hours or even probably minutes later), there’d be two or three ideas you could quite happily show them.
Mind you, in the interest of coming up with an impressively thick stack of layouts, the chaps were in the habit of padding the work out just a little – adding in one or two horribly unoriginal, pretty-much-entirely generic ideas which, at a push, you could just about defend as semi-relevant responses to any brief featuring any proposition and any product.
Of these – I am going somewhere with this, honestly – the most frequently-presented was the Formula One Tank – a visual of a tank, obviously, but in a Formula One racing livery, not camouflage. You can see how this works – it’s not just strong, or robust, or reliable, it’s also fast. Or, at an even simpler level, it’s better than a Formula One car because it’s a tank, and it’s better than a tank because it goes like a Formula One car. Colin and Alex invariably included this idea in the stack, and I invariably turned this idea down, which of course left Colin and Alex free to add it to the stack again next time.
That’s all a very long time ago now, and the last I heard Colin was living in Bulgaria. Which, I suppose, makes it unlikely that they’re freelancing for the agency handling the rebranding/relaunch campaign for what until how has been MGM Advantage (and now apparently Retirement Advantage).
This is a bit personal for me, because not so long ago I was much involved in the rebranding/relaunch campaign for what until then had been MGM Assurance – which became, obviously, MGM Advantage. If I say so myself, we did an excellent job. The new identity was fresh, lively and original, and the launch communications were simple and strong.
None of which can be said for the new incarnation. Everything about Retirement Advantage is crap, including the name. But crappest of all is the advertising which – you’ve guessed it – actually does feature the Formula One Tank, or something very close to it.
Actually, it’s built around a useless generic idea about people being “better equipped,” visualised with pictures like several blokes pheasant shooting with shotguns, and one person on the moors with an anti-aircraft gun.
And since, by the way, one of the many problems with this idea is that photographing it would be unaffordably expensive, it’s only possible to run it as a crap drawing which makes it look as if they’ve decided to run the rough.
There are several other visuals in the campaign (not so far actually including a Formula One Tank among other tanks, but I live in hope). I can’t actually remember any of them but it doesn’t matter because one of the acid tests for useless generic ideas is that you can think of a hundred more in an hour.
Anyway, I feel a bit guilty about giving this miserable stuff such a kicking, but at least it’s an opportunity to pay tribute to one of the best creative teams I worked with.
And if by any chance they have been freelancing for Retirement Advantage – well done chaps, you finally got it through.