MOST TALKED ABOUT

Good advertising that creates a word-of-mouth buzz is not always a masterpiece of creative excellence, although certain techniques offer a better chance of success

His comedy glasses and dreadful dancing may inspire the advertising community to reach for its collective remote control and switch off, but the Halifax's Howard is a hit with the man on the street.

The latest installment of the bank's campaign, Howard singing a love duet with Angela, has once again inspired a slew of articles in the national press. Comparisons with the love antics of 'Something Stupid''s real singers, Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman, in their promo, inspired hacks. Tracking down Howard's real real-life girlfriend has also generated column inches.

Agencies and awards jurors may scorn the campaign, through Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, but the trustworthy face of a real-life employee has made the Howard campaign incredibly successful for the Halifax. Take-up of current accounts and mortgages has soared in the 18 months since the campaign was launched, a feat some say is due to the agency's decision to apply fmcg sales tactics to financial services advertising. The success of the campaign has not only caused financial services companies to rethink their advertising strategies, but retailers too are reported to be regularly asking their agencies if it wouldn't be a good idea to "do something a bit like the Halifax". With Hall & Partners' research showing that recognition now exceeds 90%, it's no wonder they're the talk of the town.

On both sides of the Atlantic the celebrity-studded summer campaign for the Gap attracted a lot of attention. The black-and-white ads were directed by Cameron Crowe, the Coen brothers and Roman Coppola, and starred Kate Beckinsale, Orlando Bloom, Dennis Hopper, Christina Ricci, Jay Hernandez, Zooey Deschannel and more.

The three executions, 'Denim Invasion', 'Two White Shirts" and 'Down on Khaki Street', amounted to aggressive tactics for a retailer struggling with tough trading conditions in the US and with a slightly tired brand image. The slick productions achieved standout with carefully chosen soundtracks, plus the inevitable attention granted to celebrity appearances in advertising. Nevertheless, the Gap's trading problems are an ailment that even the finest advertising would struggle to reverse.

The British Tourist Authority's casting of Tony Blair to attract American tourists back to Britain also inspired coverage in the UK press. The campaign, created by BMP DDB uses every imaginable cliche to depict old Blighty. Yet, at the same time, it humorously exploits Blair's heroic status in the US following the hard line he took against Afganistan.

The commercial is made up of images of pubs, bowler hats, London taxis, knights in shining armour and Wellington boots. Just when you think it's over, Blair makes one of the shortest cameo appearances in advertising history, saying only: "Welcome".

It's certainly a welcome change from the sugary-sweet tourist ads of old and interesting for the way it sends up as much as celebrates Britain.

The Ipren campaign is well-loved and has become something of a national phenomenon in its native Sweden. The singing painkiller spots helped bring directing collective Acne to fame when the off-the-wall campaign launched in 1999. It has been voted most liked ad in Sweden for the past three years, winning at the People's Choice Awards - a competition organised by broadcaster TV 4 that allows the public to vote for their favourite ad.

It also won a Gold at the country's Advertising Effectiveness Awards. The campaign has seen the brand's market share leap from 3% to 20%. Here we show the latest ad in the series.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).