Does Vodafone’s epic Christmas Love Story from Ogilvy overstay its welcome?

Do hobbits fall in love? No, because their mobile data runs out.

Let’s try again. Martin Freeman, who plays hobbit Bilbo Baggins (and Sherlock’s Dr Watson) has been bumbling through a series of ads for Vodafone this year, courtesy of new agency Ogilvy & Mather.

Some have been OK, others less so. There’s only so much bumbling Freeman you can take.

But wait a minute, there’s more – a whole lot more. Vodafone’s Christmas offering, ‘A Vodafone Love Story,’ features six films, separately or welded together, starring Freeman and a Scottish lassie who seems to be ignored in all the publicity. She’s rather good. Five minutes in all.

Promoting Vodafone Passes, which give you more bloody data, and PayG1 which also..

So what makes a good ad? DDB alumnus Keith Reinhart said it’s “simplicity, surprise and a smile.”

This one: Simplicity: you get the point, Vodafone’s got lots of data and, supposedly, it doesn’t cost you much.

Surprise: Nope, you know he’s going to get the girl in the end, otherwise what’s the point? Lugubrious Freeman would be the man with a Strand (Ogilvy as well, irrelevantly).

A smile: This is the key to it all. Do you bat for Freeman and, by extension, Vodafone? Some people will, others won’t but that’s nearly always the case with celebs.

Too much Freeman for me. Will his career as a serious actor ever recover?

But it’s ambitious, which should be applauded, and does succeed in giving something of a human face to Vodafone – at last.

MAA creative scale: 7.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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