David Reviews

 Biting the hand that feeds us since 2002.

Rail Delivery Group
"Improvements"
40s
20 March 2017
UK Train Services

We're not particularly keen on the phrase "post-truth era" at DAVID, suggesting - as it does - that lying in public is a new idea but it's tempting to use it to describe this extraordinary piece of propaganda on behalf of Britain's train network.

The ad itself is well made but you cannot overlook its complete failure to acknowledge the problems generated by a creaking infrastructure and the dysfunctional relationship between train companies and trade unions.

While it's true that the rail network "carries twice as many passengers as twenty years ago" and this is genuinely a good excuse for its struggle to provide a decent service, it's disingenuous to suggest that all is well. Southern Rail's customers - or victims as they prefer to think of themselves - have to endure a dreadful service which is further blighted by cancellations and strikes. There is no expectation that trains will run on time or that you will get a seat.

Unfortunately, it probably won't be too long before the service offered by Southern serves as a model for the other train companies as they too sacrifice the customer experience on the altar of profit.

Rather than spending money falsely representing the railways as a beacon of good living, the rail companies should put their money together to provide a plan to fix all that ails it. And they should start by promising zero dividends for shareholders until they can guarantee that the trains will run on time and everyone can have a seat.

Co-op Supermarkets
"Mother's Day"

Gary said:

Beautifully done - looks and feels totally believable without being too sentimental.


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Rail Delivery Group
"Improvements"
40s
20 Mar 2017
We're not particularly keen on the phrase "post-truth era" at DAVID, suggesting - as it does - that lying in public is a new idea but it's tempting to use it to describe this extraordinary piece of propaganda on behalf of Britain's train network. The ad itself is well made but you cannot overlook its complete failure to acknowledge the problems generated by a creaking infrastructure and the dysfunctional relationship between train companies and trade unions.

Swedish Railways
"Paul's Journey"
80s
14 Mar 2017
Some journeys are more difficult than others. The central character in this enlightened commercial for Swedish Railways has embarked on a personal journey to seek acceptance for his transvestitism - and he's no generic cipher representing the LGBT community, either. He's Pelle Pia Hedberg, who became a cause célèbre in his native Sweden when his decision to begin dressing as a woman in the workplace provoked a row with his boss.

Eurostar
"Travel State of Mind"
60s
20 Feb 2017
There’s plenty of joie de vivre in this 60” ad for Eurostar. These travellers discover what can happen when you just say qui. A lot, as it happens - you’ve just got to have the right mindset. Long lunches, lost and found love, and discovering one’s dancing shoes… sod the itinerary and just roll with it.

Virgin Trains
"Flights"
75s
24 Oct 2016
Innuendo rules in one of two droll ads for Virgin Trains. Two couples are asked to fill us in on their “experiences”. We don’t hear the lead question, but we quickly fill in the gaps: talk of getting “straight down to business”; “clammy” bodies; and the less said about being “strapped in”, the better. Before this strays into post-watershed territory, we learn the topic at hand is simply trains versus planes.

Virgin Trains
"Cars"
75s
24 Oct 2016
Two more couples get suggestive on the Virgin Trains sofa. One pair enjoys telling us how leather and a generous-sized table get them going, while it’s all sore arms, sweaty backs, and pasties for couple number two. As it turns out, they’re discussing the merits of train travel against the car… with the former, unsurprisingly, winning out.

Northern Railway
"Destination Summer"
30s
29 Jul 2016
There may only be a chunk of summer left for us to savour, but Northern Railway are keen for us to embrace the season in whatever way suits us. This gently rousing ad takes us from the hills down to the ocean via music festivals and fashion boutiques as the VO lists the kind of go-getters likely to seize the day... and that the advertised train franchise can help them do so all over the region.

Virgin Trains
"Race"
60s
15 May 2016
As we chart the progress of a young woman preparing to run 20K in a fish costume, we're once again reminded how a journey made using one of Virgin Rail's trains will leave you ready for anything. It's just as well she's well-rested as she has a lot to deal with during the race including interference from a rival dressed as a shark. Who will come out on top in this marine battle? You hardly need ask.

TransPennine Express
"Where Next?"
60s
5 May 2016
TransPennine Express's first stop in this engaging commercial is the Industrial Revolution, and as the years pass by, the changing landscape of the North evolves at a brisk pace... and the advertised rail company are ready to keep up with the changes. The on-rails perspective is a fitting visual device and one which allows for some nifty transitions from city to countryside, and from sandcastles to real castles.

DSB Danish Railway
"Ride Young"
60s
8 Feb 2016
DSB - Denmark's largest rail company - see train journeys a little differently in this hypnotic film brimming with youthful brio. To Seinabo Sey's 'Younger', the film depicts a group of fresh-faced things doing whatever it is they want to do. And how do they arrive at their respective cloud nines? Why, by the railway, of course.

East Midland Trains
"Lost Teddy"
30s
3 Feb 2016
Is this heart-warming tale of a doppelganger teddy true? According to this spot for East Midland Trains, a mother whose son left his own soft toy on a train gets a lookalike bear sent in its place when it turns out Gemma from (presumably) customer services realises her son had the same type of bear and is willing to part with it. Hmm. Is it really that easy to ascertain the specification of a teddy? Either way, we like the super informing us "bizarre coincidences not guaranteed"... and the animation style is appealing and distinctive.

Eurotunnel
"Fastest Route"
20s
6 Jan 2016
If adventure is only thirty-five minutes away by Eurotunnel, why doesn't this ad excite us more? Partly because the VO sounds as if he is just reading words with absolutely no concept of their meaning. The prospect of holidaying in Europe by car with the freedom to travel where and when we choose should feel a lot more impactful than this.

Virgin Trains
"Bound For Glory"
90s
17 Sep 2015
This is a triumphant celebration of Virgin Trains's capture of the East Coast franchise to complement their existing West Coast routes. The young man at the centre of the commercial has travelled by train to visit his girlfriend's family for the first time and needs his to be on his 'A Game' to win them over. What follows is a delightful depiction of how he achieves this.

thetrainline.com
"I Am Train"
60s
10 Sep 2015
Glory be! This splendid piece of communication looks set to give the advertised service a massive boost and DAVID can already picture people at home mimicking the protagonist's triumphant finalé to his speech. Director Ringan Ledwidge has once again demonstrated why agencies are so keen to have him on board.

Belgian Railway Company
"Traffic Jams Are World Heritage"
60s
7 Sep 2015
Belgium's state-owned railway company NMBS has made this tongue-in-cheek spot calling for the country's traffic jams to be given World Heritage status because they're as famous as its beer. It's nicely done, with a nod to Apocalypse Now at the end: "I love the smell of exhaust fumes in the evening". We're now waiting to see the counter petition that argues NMBS should also have UNESCO recognition for its delays and cancellations.

Scotrail
"Get Thrifty"
30s
3 Aug 2015
Rail travellers aged 50 and over can now take advantage of discounted fares by joining Scotrail's "Club 50" scheme. Given the attractive nature of Scotrail's most recent ads, this model train approach feels somewhat lacklustre. Perhaps lowering the previous age limit from 55 to 50 is the reason for this more... well, thrifty execution.

Scotrail
"Kids Go Free"
20s
29 Jun 2015
Timed to coincide with the start of the school holidays, this Scotrail ad plugs their Kids Go Free promotion for families travelling off-peak this summer. Anything to help keep the sproggs entertained will be lapped up by parents and the attractive photography reminds us that Scotland is a truly bonnie place.

First TransPennine Express
"Express Yourself"
30s
20 Jun 2015
Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band's 'Express Yourself' provides the soundtrack to this animated ad. All manner of passengers have taken the VO's advice and expressed themselves to various locations across the north of England and Scotland. Bright, breezy, and a reminder to passengers they'll most likely never experience as cheerful a journey as this.

Chiltern Railways
"Comfort Class"
30s
22 May 2015
This agreeable piece of animation suggests the advertised railway company is a very relaxing way to travel. As always with this sector, the company appears to advertise itself as a general travel solution when - in fact - it's really only a useful service if your required destination happens to be in the part of the country they serve.

Scotrail
"Just A Train Ride Away"
30s
12 May 2015
As Scotrail's new operator, Abellio set their stall out with this engaging ad showing how the railway acts as the point of entry for sights and attractions across the nation. One can't help feel jealous though at the ease with these passengers put their tickets through. As frequent rail users will know all too well, the persecution complex associated with the barriers rejecting your ticket - and yours alone - is a strong one.

thetrainline.com
"Wardrobe Malfunction"
30s
12 Apr 2015
There's a couple of new bits in this commercial for the train ticketing service that promises rail discounts... and nothing more. Once again, the focus is directed towards the situations where a cheap rail ticket really isn't going to be of any assistance. It's a neat compendium of disaster even if it doesn't naturally follow that you'd place your faith in the advertised service.

Virgin Trains
"Arrive Awesome"
60s
20 Sep 2014
It seems you can use public transport and still arrive in style, according to this smart new campaign for Virgin Trains. In a departure from the usual focus travel companies go for - the quality of the journey - the emphasis here is firmly on the moment you reach your destination. It's very clever, because in showing the chilled-out crowd with its hint of swagger, you already know they've enjoyed the ride.

thetrainline.com
"Beach"
10s
11 Sep 2014
Ads for thetrainline.com tend to be hit and miss, but this one's very much on the nail - and it's only ten seconds long. As we by now know, the app is very good for providing train-based info... but rubbish for anything else. In this instance, it's given no help at all to the couple looking for a suitable beach. Lovely direction. Wonder where they shot it?

First Great Western
"Be a First Great Westerner"
60s
11 Jun 2014
A series of phrases accompanies the images we might see as we gaze out of the window on a First Great Western train. The filming is lovely and has you hankering after journeys that feel unhurried; allowing you time to reflect. The only problem with campaigns like this is that our willingness to use any particular train has more to do with destinations than anything they can promise en route.

First TransPennine Express
"U Rock"
30s
30 May 2014
Animated characters cheer as the Transpennine Express hurtles along tracks, under bridges and past traffic jams while a hysterical VO tells us "It's time to love the train!" Cows and people cheer as the Rocky theme plays, people in their stationary vehicles smile ecstatically and train cheerleaders lift their tops up as the carriages go by. And then we all woke up.

thetrainline.com
"Bus Weirdo"
10s
12 May 2014
In this short ad, we're reminded that the app that can help you find cheap train fares isn't good for anything else... and once again we're offered an example of what it can't do. As Simon Bird explains, it won't save you from the nutter on the bus (although he avoids the word 'nutter', obviously, as the use of that description rather than the depiction of mental illness itself is what offends).

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