Bangkok, Bedlam and the November Ri Fiver: the judges’ tale


When Giraffe's Jim Shannon first received the Fiver entries by email, he was trapped at Bangkok Airport.  It took the fall of the Thai government to bring him together with freelance creative Phil Woodford.   The location for the rendezvous was Jim's offices - safely tucked inside the City's ring of steel.

JS:  I think this building used to be an old mental hospital.  There's a plaque on the wall outside.

PW:  You're reminding me of a headline I wrote on a recruitment ad the other week.  "You don't have to be mad to work here..."

JS:  "...but it helps!"

PW:  You saw it in the paper?

JS:  Anyway, what about the Fivers?  There were a number of entries that didn't quite make it to the podium.  We can't discuss them all, but maybe some thoughts on a couple?

PW:  The HBOS banner ads, then?  They're one of the only entries from the commercial sector, which I guess is a sign of the times.

JS:  My feeling is that the tone is very aggressive and it doesn't strike me as right for Personal Financial Advisors.  Are they really people who are motivated by destroying the competition?  Shouldn't it be about knowing your products and out-thinking competitors?

PW:  I agree, but this hard-hitting tone does seem to be part of the brief. I'm wondering whether it's one of these situations where the agency needs to challenge the client a little more and say "Is this actually how we want HBOS to sound in the current climate?"

JS:  The BPP ad in Marketing Week is another private-sector entry.  They've stuck a warning sign over a dummy ad, saying that the original information was too hot to reveal.  The trouble is, the dummy ad doesn't really look that exciting.


PW:  Nice idea, but I'm afraid the warning sign has become an ad in itself.  It might have been braver to go the whole hog and just send people off to a website.  As it stands, I'm tempted to put a warning sign on the warning sign.  But people would think I was mad.

JS:  Don't worry. You're in the right place.

PW:  Time for the Top Three?

JS:  I think so.  In third place, we have an ad for Statisticians from Dstl - part of the Ministry of Defence. 


PW:  Nice, eye-catching piece of work that uses the idea of "black swan" events to talk about the stuff that these stat boffins do.  I did start to read that Black Swans book, but it was all a bit too clever for me.  I guess that's why I'm an advertising creative and not a statistician.

JS:  If I had a criticism of this ad it would be that the visual is a very literal interpretation of the black swan idea.  It might have been stronger with a reportage shot of something like the Berlin Wall coming down.

PW:  Agreed.  What's in second place?

JS:  A black-and-white ad for Bristol Eye Hospital.


PW:  Aye aye.

JS:  Their proposition is that this hospital does amazing things with eyes and they've demonstrated it through an optical illusion, which works very well on the page.  A good example of an organisation doing something interesting with a small space and, I'm guessing, a fairly small budget.

PW:  And the much-coveted Blue Riband?

JS:  Step forward, Southwark Council.  This is an ad about transporting kids with special needs to and from school.  


PW:  There's a very clear proposition here.  If you think it's hard getting one or two kids off to school in the morning (and I do know the feeling), imagine trying to sort out 400.

JS:   Art direction is strong.  Nice touch to have the traffic images on the kid's duvet cover.

PW:  Time to get back under our own duvets now.  And resurface again in 2009.  Or perhaps 2010.

Ri5 sends its thanks to the judges, Jim Shannon of Giraffe Advertising and freelance creative Phil Woodford.  Congratulations to Tribal, who win the Ri Fiver for November, and to their client Southwark Council.  Commiserations and thanks to everyone else who entered.

The Ri Fivers are sponsored by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), one of the world's leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community. The IET publishes two key offline recruitment titles - Engineering & Technology and IET Student & Young Professional Magazine - and the website Engineering & Technology Jobs (

Closing date for entries for the December Ri Fiver will be midnight on Monday 5th January (a special extension, enabling you to enjoy the full festive season.)  Once again, we have a stellar line up of creative directors waiting to judge: Gavin Anderson of ThirtyThree and Jamie Haskayne of aia.  The winner will be the twelfth and last qualifier for our end-of-season extravaganza, when all 2008 Ri Fiver judges will gather and vote to decide the winner of the Ri High Fiver - the year's ultimate creative accolade.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

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