Ri Fiver: the February result

Rob Walker of Barkers and Simon Russell of Work report back on a two-decade experiment in creative objectivity...

We worked together for ten years, but we haven't worked together for ten years. This presents a rather interesting set of experimental conditions.  Would two people like us come to broadly the same conclusions about the relative quality of different pieces of recruitment advertising - without conferring?  We decided to do our initial screen independently and then meet to compare notes.

We recognised that if our views didn't coincide, at least one of us might be a buffoon and a charlatan.  And even if we did agree, we might both be completely wrong for the same reasons.  As it turned out, when we compared our own personal top fives, there was an eighty per cent overlap.  This doesn't prove that there is an objective measure of creative excellence, but it doesn't mean there isn't, either.

In achieving our final consensus we set a few rules:

  • No harking back to a golden age that, believe you us, never existed.
  • No negative or sarcastic criticism, even when ads say ‘£competitive'.
  • No ‘there's a good idea in here trying to get out'.

Claire's Thousands of lines #5

This is a very simple idea and somebody gamely resisted pressure to put loads more stuff in it. Wherever it appeared, we imagine that it stood out bravely because it sidesteps so many of the conventions associated with low-budget recruitment advertising.

University of Teesside Talk about strength of character #4

This is an ad about animation and 3-D design.  So, credit we think is due for a plucky attempt to convey the appeal of the role with an illustration in two static dimensions.

Heinz Always Thinking #3

The Heinz posters tell stories that flow from the innovative reality of the business.  There are pleasing graphic touches such as the small bottle shots; however, the compelling thing about this work is the direct and unfussy account of the opportunity: ‘this is what we do, and this is why you might enjoy doing it with us'.

GMPA Enjoy the view #2

This work successfully compresses a lot of interesting information into a limited space, while presenting Manchester as a diverse and challenging community in which to live and work. The photography and art direction work hard to support the central theme of ‘the view'.

Claire's HR Manager #1

We were unanimous that this was the runaway winner. Here is a great use of space with calm, understated photography.  The headline gets straight to the point, but with wit and charm. The hairgrip typography is restrained, confident and quite wonderful.  The copy is packed with painful and knowing puns.  It all suggests that working at Claire's might be rather fun.

Conclusion
The impact of the Internet is evident in generally shorter copy, at least among the kind of work that is entered for awards.  Craft for craft, and across a limited sample of fifteen entries, the art direction was generally better than the copywriting.  It is good to see that press ads still matter enough for people to spend time, money and trouble on them.

Ri5 thanks all who entered and congratulates Thirty Three and its client, Claire's, who win the Ri Fiver for February 2008. Commiserations to Hodes, and Euro RSCG Riley, for coming close. And finally, thanks to Rob Walker and Simon Russell for all their good work.

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 (www.theiet.org/jobs).

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

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