Many agency people still don't realise that The Factory Visit is an elaborate hoax at their expense. It begins with a compulsory hairnet, usually a blue one, which is gleefully followed, in my case, by the ceremonial issuing of the beard snood.
There is then a stroll through dangerous, clanking machinery accompanied by stifled guffaws and derisive pointing from the trickier members of the workforce. It concludes in a brown room with mal-functioning blinds and a makeshift altar fashioned from the current range of shampoo bottles or biscuit packs around which the agency folk feel obliged to form a reverent semi-circle and make what they fondly imagine to be appropriate, admiring noises. The clients whip the cling-film off a pile of petrified orange food and awkward small talk ensues before the terrifying mini-cab run to catch the 2.42 to King's Cross. As we stare silently into space clutching our cans of Pedigree on the trundle back, I always picture the clients howling with laughter and throwing beard snoods at each other.
So, envy the people whose client is the Bordeaux Wine Council (3). I'm sure the fact-finding tours on this piece of business are frequent and thorough, with nary a hairnet to be seen. This commitment to research hasn't left much time to do the actual advertising, which posits the devastating premise that wine goes quite nicely with food, but I'm not sure it matters that much. This relationship is clearly all about total immersion in the product and I wish it well.
Two stalwarts of quality print work, Audi and Tesco, are oddly muted this week. Audi (4) is making much of its cars' small details in a campaign that feels so familiar that I'm pretty sure I signed it off myself a few years ago, only with BMW logos on it.
And Tesco (1) has done some almost apologetically matter-of-fact posters to reassure us of the provenance of its food. It is still telling us that "every little helps", but in this case it would be fairer to add "but probably not very much".
On TV, we have the sprint cyclist Victoria Pendleton and the trial biker Ali Clarkson scrapping over a bottle of Gatorade (6). It's a bit reminiscent of the old Nike ad, with the male and female runner needling each other, but it's nicely made and Ali does some good tricks.
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (2) is not happy about the possible imminent lifting of the current whaling ban and it has tried to shock us into protest with a rather predictable online commercial. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times has unearthed a genuine outrage with its expose of Japan's use of bribes and prostitutes to garner the support of small nations for lifting the ban. It's a brilliant scoop and a horrifying indictment of a nation's tactics. Why didn't WDCS use it, instead of showing us a model painting with (yawn) blood?
In an otherwise ordinary week, we are lucky enough to end with a real star. It is 70 summers since the Battle of Britain raged above and the RAF Benevolent Fund (5) is marking the occasion by trying to put us in the shoes of the people who lived and fought through the war. It does this in two ways. One is an online version of a newspaper, reporting real events each day as if we were in 1940. The other, bolder, strand to the campaign is inventing characters with specific roles in the Battle of Britain (plane mechanic, flying officer, nurse and so on) who Tweet daily as the battle unfolds and with whom you can engage. It's one of the most powerful and least expected uses of social media I've yet seen. It's also brave, ambitious and moving, and I love them for doing it.
PLANNER - Tony Quinn, head of planning, JWT
"Ashley Cole does my head in." In an average day, this thought enters my head at least a dozen times.
Sometimes as a direct response to something he's done, other times apropos of nothing; my head goes blank, monkeys start clashing cymbals and my inner voice starts whispering: "Ashley Cole's a dick." This is generally something I keep to myself but today I'm talking, I'm singing like a canary, because in Ashley Cole we can learn a lot. In Ashley Cole, we have a quite wonderful lesson in modern brand-building.
First of all, he gets comms planning quite magnificently, marrying traditional and digital channels seamlessly. The former he uses to "broadcast" his undeniable skills, the latter to "narrowcast" himself in bad pants; the former to build fame, the latter to stimulate dialogue with his key audience, so building an enduring, richer brand/consumer experience. The column inches he generates, the buzz he creates, are second to none. Good skills.
However, the most impressive thing about Brand Ash, and the thing I want to focus on today, is that in me, like most of the population, he stimulates a quite remarkable response. That this response is invariably "sit down, you knob" is somewhat academic. The main thing is, he generates a response. And, in doing so, Ashley Cole occupies a hugely disproportionate amount of head and heart space - no mean feat considering the gang of goons that make up his competitive set. So, let the review begin.
Blimey. Is Tesco (1) having an identity crisis or what? Where's the brand of charm? Where's the voice of wit? Where's the personality of the people? I can't remember whether it was Shakespeare or Stacey Solomon who said "To thine own self be true" but Tesco should remember it. You're not Waitrose and that's fine by us.
Unfortunately, this work barely stirred me, let alone moved me (I think it was Stacey).
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (2) did though - move me, that is. "Blood on your hands" is clearly a well-trodden creative path and in many ways this is a poor man's Peta; Alice Dellal is no Naomi Campbell. However, I kind of liked it. It was shot well (as web films go), Alice looked like she actually gave a shit and the track held me to the end when, would you believe it, I hit the "Yes, I'm In" tab to become a bona fide supporter of the WDCS. And you can't knock that for a piece of comms, surely?
"Good food would choose Bordeaux." Really? Would it? Is that the best we can do for the Bordeaux Wine Council (3)? That "good food would choose it"? I daresay this brief was about making Bordeaux wines "more accessible". To who? Cretins?
On to Audi (4). Nice idea (though done before), beautifully executed (though to be expected), bang-on brand (though why wouldn't it be?), reinforces an already lofty position (though nothing more). Nothing bad to say on this one (though I clearly have). Top work (safe work). So God knows why it makes me feel a bit empty (see brackets).
I'm really running out of steam now. Gatorade (6). Victoria Pendleton drinks Gatorade on a Gatorade shoot, set in an inner-city housing estate. "Hoody" on BMX whizzes past and steals the aforementioned bottle. Chase entails. Victoria gets her bottle back. Endline: "Don't lose your bottle." Lordy. If cliches were a superstore, this one would have its own Tube station.
I've left the best until last. RAF Benevolent Fund (5). Loved it. Well planned, well thought out, a mine (oops) of rich and highly emotive content. I felt both moved and uplifted. I shed a tear and raised a smile all at once. It was like reading Sebastian Faulks but without the guff. Might want to revisit the IA though, as I had to work bally hard to donate. Nicked it for me, though.
I can hear those monkeys again.
Client: Abi Robins, senior marketing manager, Tesco
Brief: Demonstrate that caring about quality is in our DNA
Agency: The Red Brick Road
Writer: Sam Cartmell
Art director: Jason Lawes
Photographer: Colin Campbell
Exposure: Outdoor, press
Project: Don't let them lift the whaling ban
Client: Chris Butler Stroud, chief executive, Whale and Dolphin
Art director: n/s
Directors: White Rabbit
Production company: Independent Films
3. BORDEAUX WINE COUNCIL
Project: Good food would choose Bordeaux
Client: Douglas Morton, Bordeaux Wine Council
Brief: Reposition Bordeaux as a relevant and contemporary brand choice
Writer: David Alexander
Art director: Rob Fletcher
Photographer/illustrator: Rob Fletcher
Project: No detail too small
Client: Peter Duffy, head of marketing, Audi UK
Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creatives: Adam Tucker, Jim Hilson, Toby Allen
Photographer: Giles Revell
Illustrator: Richard Green
Typographer: Rob Wilson
Exposure: National press
5. RAF BENEVOLENT FUND
Project: 1940 Chronicle
Client: Ann Mari Freebairn, head of communications, RAF Benevolent Fund
Brief: Engage with a new generation of supporters by demonstrating the
impact of conflict on serving RAF personnel whether in 1940 or 2010
Agency: Reading Room
Writer: Kevin Telfer
Art director: Joe Lygoe
Designer: Eric George
Exposure: Outdoor, digital, press
Project: Pendleton chase
Client: Amanda Thomson, marketing director, Gatorade
Brief: Communicate the existing Gatorade sports rewards promotion, using
the brand's recent commitments to cycling
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writer: Steve Coll
Art director: Colin Jones
Director: Simon Levene
Production company: Mustard
Exposure: Online, gym TV