David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

Latest Work
    • Open your eyes to changeThis spot for charity Kids Company is stark, grim and relentless... yet compels you to watch despite yourself.
    • Smells like team spiritYou'd expect any ad that opened with "You have over 4,000 Mondays in your life" would put an instant dampener on your mood, but far from it with this powerhouse of a commercial from Lynx.
    • Fit for purposeForget just doing it - that, it would seem, is for unfocused losers. This is the message Adidas are giving us - and it would suggest there's no compromise.
    • Tyrranosaurus RiceThe first delightful ad in a new campaign for Rice Krispies; based on the imaginative way children explain the world to themselves.
    • The road to redemptionThis intriguing piece of work for Kenco could be described as 'Fair Trade Plus'.
    • Shark attackUnconventional casting is combined with a distinctively unusual music choice and intricately painted fingernail to create an attention-grabbing piece of work.
    • The essence of the gamePremiership sponsors Barclays haven't found the true spirit of the game among the millionaire practitioners who'll soon be dazzling us with their skill each weekend.
    • Why always him?Puma positions itself as the bad boy of sportswear in this commercial made by JWT New York featuring Italian striker Mario Balotelli and Jamaican runner Usain Bolt.
    • Dressing to impressWhat a truly delightful ad this is. The most engaging little girl - what a casting find - takes real delight in telling us how she can now dress herself and doesn't need mummy's help any longer.
    • Getting a fair shareVodafone's latest campaign is beautifully simple and very engaging.
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THE BLACK BOX

JASON:

That's a very funny typo.

ALICE:

What's that then?

JASON:

You know Johnny Hardstaff of RSA.

ALICE:

Yes. Top director. Funny Name.

JASON:

Indeed. Well, here, he's been named as Johnny Hardstuff.

ALICE:

That does just about take it past the tipping point. Mind you, it'd be a good name if he ever directs an action thriller.

JASON:

Or an Ian Botham biopic.

ALICE:

Yuk!


Kids Company
"See The Child"
75s
19 August 2014

This spot for charity Kids Company is grim and relentless... yet compels us to watch despite ourselves. A small girl - unseen - tells us to witness the existence she led, and how its direction was shaped. We see cardboard for a mattress. We see stained, punctured walls. We see adults in authority from a child's eye view; faces obscured.

The repetition of language used and the monotony of the girl's intonation convey the numbness that such a life would produce. The sound design - the voice muffled and echoey as if recorded on poor quality tape in an interview room; intermittent ambient noise underneath - puts her at another remove from humanity, further out of reach with every line; we don't realise just how far until the light goes out.

There's a tendency for ads in this genre to overplay their hand - the temptation to succumb to tear-jerking appeals is understandably strong. This, however, simply brings home the sense of futility many have about our system of care for vulnerable children.

So what is to be done? We're not asked to donate to a cause that will only be a drop in the ocean for once. Instead, we're directed to a site - seethechild.org - to sign a petition to change the system. And refreshingly, the changes suggested there are constructive and practical, clearly laid out in language anyone can understand. They're a direct contrast to the labyrinthine and Kafka-esque approaches that have arisen over time among the various strata of bureaucracy and the departments that don't talk to each other and which are both costly and horrifyingly ineffective.

While Camilla Batmanghelidjh - who runs Kids Company - is sometimes (and in our view, unfairly) perceived as a controversial figure who puts out alarmist statistics about children in crisis, there is no mistaking the fact that the work she does and her reasons for wanting change are beyond reproach. This campaign, and specifically, this ad puts the suffering of children into context and manages to suggest a way for us all to help that is more empowering than setting up a direct debit for a fiver a month. Well done to everyone involved and especially copywriter Toby Allen and his creative partner Jim Hilson, whose script opens our eyes to those possibilities.

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Lynx
"Monday"
50s
19 August 2014

You'd expect any ad that opened with "You have over 4,000 Mondays in your life" would put an instant dampener on your mood, but far from it with this powerhouse of a commercial from Lynx. This urges you to make the most of every one of them and make them your (not so secret) weapon.

The writing is as polished as the production and direction which encompass everything from comic-book pastiches to romcom awkwardness. Our lead guy is excellently cast too, good-looking but lovably full of cheekiness and childlike energy. Wanna be the man? this asks. No - make him want to be you.

With a range of fine fragrances at your disposal, it's within your power to be a winner 24/7; an hombre owning the start of the week; a playa too tough to gag on tofu.

The care and craft that's gone into this from all departments is evident - and just shows what great teamwork can achieve when everybody believes in a concept.

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Adidas
"Unleash Your Best"
65s
18 August 2014

Forget just doing it - that, it would seem, is for unfocused losers. You need a plan. You need incentives and goals and feedback. You need your best self standing just out of reach, urging you on to catch up.

This is the message Adidas are giving us - and it would suggest there's no compromise. If you want to train, even if it's just 'for fun', you don't want to waste a single kilojoule unnecessarily. So get yourself fixed up with the tools to help every last muscle fibre and brain cell work with maximum efficiency: if you don't, you're just an also-ran.

Those tools flash up on our screens at the end of almost a minute of beautifully shot, moody and intense sequences implying the contrast between people who think Adidas and people who think Nike. They include Fit Smart, Smart Run, Smart Ball, Speed Cell, x_cell, miCoach... crikey, can't even imagine what x_cell is.

But when - intrigued - you head off to the internet for details, it's hard to find a clear picture. There doesn't appear to be an overarching framework to these tools: miCoach is described on the site as their 'digital fitness ecosystem' but there's nothing to really explain what this means - just a range of products with 'miCoach' in front of them.

It's becoming increasingly common for one aspect of a brand's marketing to get ahead of the other aspects and you have to question the wisdom of running a sophisticated commercial if it isn't backed by equally sophisticated online content when it drives punters to a website.

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Fab! Regas

The first week of the football season brought a certain amount of predictability - a win each for the four teams that qualified for the Champions League - but not enough to make it easy to pick your players for Fantasy Football.

Diego Costa was a popular choice and after his early goal in the week's final fixture, many must have been hoping that he'd score a hatful... but it was not to be. The referee's decision to book Costa for diving when he was brought down in the area may have been a one-man crusade to teach these continental types that they may need to have a femur protruding from their thigh if they want to win a penalty in Blighty.

So it was left to Cesc Fabregas to emerge as the week's real star. The Spaniard may not have scored the most points - that honour was left to James Chester (Hull) and Eric Dier (Spurs) - but he laid down a real marker for the season ahead and he looks likely to be a player many will want in their squad.


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Kellogg's Rice Krispies
"Dinosaur"
30s
15 August 2014

The first delightful ad in a campaign based on the imaginative way children explain the world to themselves. Here, a little boy narrates a tale of dinosaurs and Rice Krispies, and how the plucky little pieces of breakfast cereal found a way to remain in existence even though the lizardy beasts didn't.

It seems that dinosaurs couldn't but help - clumsy old things - standing on their delicate chums the krispies, so the cereal had to borrow something from its now fossilised BFFs.

This is inventive and visually distinctive, and we suspect it will make parents everywhere think this is an excellent food with which to nourish their offspring's brains. Plus there's the added bonus that as the cereal doesn't seem to have evolved in over 100m years, it must have been pretty much perfect to start with. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Darwin.

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Recent Promos

Peace
"Lost on Me"
3 mins 49s
19 Aug 2014
We rather like the way this appears to be having a dig at the mindlessness of boy bands. The group are rehearsing a routine with the aid of cue cards, and when an accident on set distracts their choreographer it doesn't occur to them to stop practising. They veer out of the studio with their click-and-walk moves, and slowly head towards their doom. Just wish this came from a more subversive outfit than Peace - it has the potential to be a very cool idea indeed.

The Kooks
"Forgive and Forget"
3 mins 27s
18 Aug 2014
Well, well, well. The buzz surrounding The Kooks' reinvention is completely justified so far. After the excellent first two singles from their soon-to-be-released sophomore album Listen, here comes this equally infectious third: a joyous, funky, gospelly romp with a delicious video from Ivana Bobic. Atmospherically lit, it incorporates the pre-cinematic zoetrope designed to give the illusion of movement... and what could be more uplifting than a vision of space-age space chicks tricked out like angels of the future?

Ibeyi
"River"
3 mins 45s
12 Aug 2014
This is one of those rare times when a video doesn't just enhance a track, it gets right inside it and makes us see the very essence of the music. It's an extraordinary song to start with - the voices of twin sisters washing over the riverbed of compressed percussion - and director Ed Morris has brought its beguiling, siren qualities to the surface.

Dolman
"On Stoney Ground"
4 mins 18s
6 Aug 2014
This striking video dramatises the story of a rugby club, most of whose young players went on to die in World War I. It's an appropriate theme as the centenary of the war's start has just been marked, and reflects the war references in the track itself, by Dolman - a rather impressive project featuring musicians linked with Portishead.

Dirty Vegas
"Setting Sun"
3 mins 28s
6 Aug 2014
This isn't one of the more memorable tracks by Dirty Vegas, but it's certainly a memorable video. What does it depict? Yoga on a beach. How can that possibly be interesting? Because it's made by the Surrender Monkeys, who evidently know how to compel you to watch to the very last moment. And let's face it, they know about yoga because in their own words, one is a "black belt in Ashtanga" while the other enjoys "hours-long tantric sex sessions". Empiric proof if ever you needed it.

We Are Shining
"Hot Love"
3 mins 12s
29 Jul 2014
Model of the moment Adwoah Aboah provides an intense focus to Simon Cahn's video for Hot Love by 'We Are Shining'. The London-based duo continues to build on their experimental vibe; a melting pot of gospel, Latin, African and European influences that are oddly reminiscent of superb 80s band Yargo. Aboah's essential stillness acts as a strong counterpoint to the frenetic playing in the unlikely supermarket setting.

Tensnake & Jacques lu Cont (ft Jamie Lidell)
"Feel of Love"
3 mins 56s
30 Jul 2014
The track itself is no great shakes, but add the video and you get something very amusing indeed. Directed by Remy Cayuela, it invokes the Woody Allen scene from Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask). The only problem for these game little sperm, however, is their eventual destinations.

Royal Blood
"Figure It Out"
3 mins 05s
10 Jul 2014
Rapid risers on the music scene Royal Blood - a two-piece based in Brighton - have released this glam-tinged belter which comes with an appropriate video from Ninian Doff. Lashings of thrashy riffs set the tone for the unfolding story of a girl in a shopping mall, whose dazed appearance seems connected to the bloodstains that show up on her in blue-filtered light.

Lily Allen
"URL Badman"
3 mins 37s
8 Jul 2014
Lily Allen's never one to take things lying down - and after accusations of racism over her last video Hard Out Here she's hit back with this track about loser trolls who don't have a life beyond anonymously badmouthing people. As you'd expect, the track is full of sassy, smartly-observed lyrics and directorial duo The Sacred Egg do a great job of visually interpreting them.

Daniel James
"Ain't No Money"
3 mins 47s
4 Jul 2014
Up-and-coming singer songwriter Daniel James has released the lead single Ain't No Money from his eponymous debut EP... and a rousing, gospel-tinged number it is. About greed and corruption, it comes with a striking video from director Mark Jenkinson. Set in the streets of the city at night, a venal businessman is pursued by some unexpected followers who increasingly unnerve him.

Santigold
"Kicking Down Doors"
4 mins 19s
2 Jul 2014
It may be on a rather uncool Pepsi World Cup-inspired compilation album, but Santigold's latest is a banger. Produced by Yogi - the trio associated with Skrillex - it's a trap-infused, electro-fried tribal chant that goes toe-to-toe with M.I.A.'s best. And, even better, it comes with a superb video from director Andy Morahan, inspired by the football game that took place in No Man's Land during WW1's Christmas Truce.

Diplo
"Dat A Freak"
3 mins 12s
30 Jun 2014
The build, build, build, drop school of EDM from the likes of Diplo and A-Trak is invariably a dancefloor winner, and this - while not quite in the same league as Butters Theme or Jumbo - will garner a lot of play in the clubs this summer. The accompanying video isn't exactly original, but it's been done with humour and pzazz and is very entertaining in a sniggery teenage boy kind of way.

MK (feat Alana)
"Always (Route 94 remix)"
3 mins 29s
30 Jun 2014
Director Courtney Phillips has made an impressive docu-style promo for the house track Always, without which the song feels like so much aural wallpaper. Heard together with the video, the two elements work symbiotically: the anonymous bass fits the undercurrent of uncertainty surrounding the unfolding events, while the boys' skills add a much-appreciated wow factor.

Nicole Scherzinger
"Your Love"
4 mins 04s
30 Jun 2014
Nicole Scherzinger's Your Love will probably do okay in the summer charts; it's catchy and generic enough to have broad appeal. Director Dawn Shadforth has done a good job of capturing that MTV vibe with Scherzinger frolicking on a lovely beach and dazzling colours lighting up the scene after dark. But however sexily she parades around, there's no escaping the fact that the former Pussycat Doll has all the warmth of an ice cube at the North Pole.

Stromae
"Ta Fête"
3 mins 19s
19 Jun 2014
The talented Stromae has released another iconic track bound to fill the dance floors of Europe all summer - especially as it's been adopted by Belgium's Red Devils as their tune for the World Cup. A rousing, footstomping number, it comes complete with a video by Lieven Van Baelen that combines football references with a live-action gladiatorial video game watched by boorish crowds.

HEL
"Boddle"
3 mins 35s
13 Jun 2014
If you like your hiphop languid and aggressive all at once, HEL will be your rappers of choice. The laidback feel is totally belied by the lyrics - all pussy, bitches and swagger - which is rich, coming from a trio who don't exactly set your knickers on fire with desire. But at least the video is damn compelling as far as these things go; so props to Youness Benali for its hypnotic, off-kilter imagery.

Blacksmif
"My Own Blood"
3 mins 43s
13 Jun 2014
Spare and brooding, Blacksmif's My Own Blood - while very different - evokes the same late-night desolation that Portishead's album Dummy did in the 90s. Director Youness Benali captures this by showing Blacksmif singing in an equally spare setting. Numbed, he tells us that his "own blood won't talk to me", as the camera pans around him and he stares unseeing into a distance we can't imagine.

Ella Eyre
"If I Go"
3 mins 06s
12 Jun 2014
Henry Scholfield is something of a magician when it comes to music videos. His last one - Stromae's Tous les Memes was a tour de force which has clocked up 42 million views on YouTube so far, and he's pulled another marvel out of the bag with this video for Ella Eyre. Here, he's managed to bypass the laws of gravity to create three minutes of über-cool disorientation.

Cash & David
"Pulse"
3 mins 18s
5 Jun 2014
The shadowy Cash & David follow up previous track Funn with this lush number which - if we're not wrong - features former Eastenders actor Charlie George Hawkins, who's excellent in the choreographed video that accompanies it. Apparently the action is an interpretation of the way music can be completely immersive, and the three protagonists represent the 'male' and 'female' instruments; their angelic and wicked sides - with Charlie G torn between the two.

Jack White
"Lazaretto"
3 mins 51s
5 Jun 2014
The indefatigably eclectic Mr White is back with a new bag of tricks for our delectation; a rattling, boneshaking collection that's both more ramshackle and more sophisticated than his previous album Blunderbuss. This eponymous track's a jerky garage-style number with a terrific video directed by French duo Jonas and Francois and combines exquisite, hi-def close-ups with smeary, greasy, broken images which reflect in vision everything that's going on in audio.

Peace
"Money"
3 mins 37s
4 Jun 2014
This is one of those videos that turns a passably catchy track into a much more memorable one - albeit simply because people will know it as "that funny handshake song". Peace has been hailed as the new leader of the indie scene, which tells you all you need to know about that - but the video's a corker. Businessmen suss each other out with a series of increasingly convoluted greetings that would put the Masons to shame... and it all ends very oddly indeed.

Raveyards
"Stunts"
4 mins 20s
4 Jun 2014
This hypnotic track by Belgian trio Raveyards is a killer, as weirdly sweet as it is sinister. The stop-start glitchiness throws you off-balance just as it draws you in, and the rumbling bass is at odds with the vocals, which are light and summery as blossom. Director Charles De Meyer has made the perfect video to match its trippiness.

Triggerfinger
"Perfect Match"
5 mins 24s
4 Jun 2014
A reasonable enough track, but what a cracking video - as you'd expect from Belgian director Joe Vanhoutteghem, who has made some wonderfully barmy promos. Here, mismatched couples and trios meet up for secret assignations while the car belonging to one of them follows voyeuristically. At least, that's what we think is going on. And if it's not, who cares - it's great fun and tempts you to watch it over and over in the hope of working out its secrets.

The Kooks
"Around Town"
6 mins 44s
4 Jun 2014
We're not great fans of The Kooks, and this track doesn't really do anything to change our minds - but what it does have is a great video by director Ryan Hope. Combining elements of Pulp Fiction and Leon, it follows the events surrounding a world-weary hitman and his feisty young assistant. Well acted, there's nothing half-hearted about the plentiful shoot-outs that unfold (something that gets a big thumbs-up from us).

Kaiser Chiefs
"Meanwhile up in Heaven"
3 mins 57s
30 May 2014
Kaiser Chiefs lurch around a funfair in this promo for the unsnappily-named Meanwhile up in Heaven. Not even the almighty him/herself could rescue this song, and despite the best efforts of the director the band - bewilderingly dressed as bridegroom, World War One soldier, astronaut and so forth - can bring neither meaning nor intrigue to the proceedings. Stop the ride, please; we want to get off.

Recent Promos

David Reviews - Lovely Lenzie Ltd, Woodbourne House, Seven Sisters, Lenzie, G66 3AW. Telephone: +44 141 776 7766. Editor: Jason Stone.