Private View: Al Young, St Luke's

Isn't admiring work so much easier when the expectation to like it has been set by the brand's previous advertising?

A good case in point is the latest print ad for the Volkswagen Polo.

The blue-and-white roundel instantly commands our respect; a legacy of creative excellence flashes through our memory banks. And here, true to his blood-line, "King Kong" is arresting, reductive and lateral. Although past performance cannot guarantee awards, this execution may well have us clapping like sea lions at Grosvenor House. Would it if the branding it carried was that of the "rock solid" Fiesta or the "safest place to be" Ford Mondeo? The same brief but the expectation we have of Ford advertising would probably prejudice the jury against it.

Abbey is another brand that left us with expectations - it promised to "turn banking upside-down". At the time, I wondered just how it was going to do it. Abbey doesn't seem to have an answer either. But I'm not disappointed yet. What it has fixed is a warm, human way of talking about money and the unpleasantness, the uncertainty and the boredom it provokes. None of the parent-to-child manner adopted by most advertisers in this sector.

Now all Abbey needs to do is dream up one or two radical product innovations that will revolutionise the personal finance market, slot them into the ads and Bob's your uncle.

NHS careers evolve a more established theme - that of the armies of staff needed to put someone ill or injured back together again. This latest one is shot in an eerily banal way. For the first half of the ad, an ordinary bloke walks down a street in the rain. In the second half, the bloke blacks out and falls headfirst down concrete stairs with gut-wrenching realism, all the time accompanied by voiceovers from the health professionals who are needed to get him back on his feet. I'll bet the campaign does much for the morale of existing NHS staffers as well as attracting new ones and the agency is absolutely right to stick with their cause.

Just as Royal Mail was absolutely right not to stick with its. We're "the real network", it used to bleat. Quite unlike the totally bloody brilliant unreal network that allows us to send mail, vast documents, sounds and images instantly, effortlessly and at a millifraction of postal costs. The new line, "with us, it's personal", is a strong one, underpinning a solid new strategy. The execution, however, does not work for me - I blush at the 3D foam words such as "love" and "viral" being passed smilingly from postman to punter. It's the sort of visual metaphor one would expect from the Legs-akimbo community theatre group.

Carling also seems to build on a bit of creative heritage - Frank Budgen's PlayStation ad, where the whole world plays I'm-king-of-the-castle. This was probably in pre-production when Frank's was in post and it's a real shame for the Carling agency that these ads appear so close together, because Carling's is raw, funny and visceral - returning to the roots of the game where entire villages came out to hoof a pig's bladder down streets and over fields until there was a goal or fatalities reached unacceptable levels.

My favourite this week draws from a lineage not quite as established as VW's. But I instantly expected to like it. Pot Noodle - it exploits the sexual depravity established in previous ads.

But it works differently. The first few seconds are pure Lunn Poly - then it ambushes you, it doesn't let you see the brand coming. Perhaps the best way to exploit expectation is to surprise.

Sombreros off to HHCL.

- Al Young is the executive creative director at St Luke's

VOLKSWAGEN

Project: King Kong

Client: Catherine Woolfe, communications manager, small cars

Brief: Create a continuation of the "small but tough" campaign for

entertainment media

Agency: DDB London

Writer: Simon Veksner

Art director: Nick Allsop

Typographer: Paul Slater

Illustrator: Kevin Clarke

Exposure: Consumer titles and cinema six-sheets

CARLING

Project: The big match

Client: Des Johnson, brand manager

Brief: Carling understands the real fan

Agency: Leith London

Writer: Pete Cain

Art director: Louis Bogue

Director: Kevin Thomas

Production company: Thomas Thomas

Exposure: National TV

POT NOODLE

Project: Mariachi shame

Client: Hilary Strong, senior brand manager

Brief: Launch new Seedy Sanchez as illicit Mexican pleasure

Agency: HHCL/Red Cell

Writers: Jonathan Thake and Lee Tan

Art directors: Jonathan Thake and Lee Tan

Director: Matthijs Van Heijnengen

Production company: Outsider

Exposure: National TV

ABBEY

Project: Abbey 2004 brand "manifesto" campaign

Client: Jeremy Davies, brand and communications director

Brief: Abbey helps people get more engaged with their money

Agency: TBWA\London

Writer: Tim Hearn

Art director: Graham Cappi

Typographer: Dave Lidster

Photographer: Mathew Murray

Exposure: Press and posters

ROYAL MAIL

Project: "With us it's personal"

Client: Tom Hings, head of brand and advertising

Brief: Position Royal Mail as the active choice for business mail ahead

of increasing competition in the category

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writer: Peter Souter

Art director: Ron Brown

Director: Stuart Douglas

Production company: @radical.media

Exposure: National TV

NHS

Project: NHS careers recruitment

Clients: Fiona Sampson, Department of Health; Stephen Condor, COI

Communications

Brief: Make people feel good about working for the NHS and feel inspired

to find out more about individual careers

Agency: Leo Burnett

Writers: Simon Impey and Jon Daniel

Art directors: Jon Daniel and Simon Impey

Director: Malcolm Venville

Production company: Therapy Films

Exposure: National and satellite TV

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