In my opinion, a lot of the work that comes out of the creative universities in England (Bucks and co), while often excellent, is of the “visual pun” variety, ie something that looks like something else. My friend Tom once gave the example that if they were doing an ad about plane fares being as low as train fares, it’d be a plane that looked like a train.
There’s nothing actually wrong with that, it’s just that there are a lot of other ways to do a great ad which seem to be getting lost in this formulaic approach. Last year, when I entered the Guardian’s Cannes Young Lions competition, two of the responses to the Print ad brief were identical. They were from different teams who’d been to different unis and never met, but they’d both been taught the visual pun approach, and it had led to the same work. (The proposition was “HIV is a poverty issue”, and both teams had shown a pound coin inside a condom wrapper in place of the condom itself). That should never happen.
Of course, sometimes combining two visuals in a new way really, really works. Like this:
If only they were all that good.