I've discovered that I'm officially too stupid to read The Economist (2). What a relief. I've always struggled to embrace the strange world conjured up by posters such as this week's "Never get stuck in a lift with your boss".
It's a place full of anxious men in trilbies - all played by a young Jack Lemmon - calling each other by their initials and slithering around the greasy pole. (No homoeroticism intended.) It's vice-president by 38 and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. I can almost hear CJ saying: "I didn't get where I am today by not reading The Economist."
But, of course, this is all denial. One of these ads eluded me completely.
It features a rectangle of material sewn to the poster. Hugh, one of WCRS's younger thrusters, tells me with skilfully veiled pity that this apparent scrap of denim is, in fact, a purple patch. He also tells me he reads The Economist. I'm still not sure whether he should be promoted or hustled off the premises.
Another leg-up in life is offered by Dunhill (1). These are beautifully produced ads showing various bits of pricey, masculine paraphernalia attached to vintage motors. There is a whiff of leather, engine oil and fraud about them. References in the copy to "the sporting gentleman" fool no-one.
Dunhill is clearly intent on creating a new breed of uber-chav.
More naked ambition is on display in the new Budweiser (3) ad. Hard on the heels of Coke, another US institution is muscling in on our national game. As a West Ham supporter, I was very unhappy. Sorry, force of habit.
That should have read, as a West Ham supporter I was very unhappy when Coke wormed its way into the football supporters' world with that ad a few years back about the blind Hammers fan. Coke, Superbowl? Yes. Coke, Upton Park? My arse. At least Budweiser has had the cunning to confront this by acknowledging the potential damage of Stateside meddling. It's insidious, despicable, blatant and, like the Coke campaign, rather good.
Everything else this week is pleasantly easy-going. We have the French chucking snowballs at each other in an Evian (5) ad, presumably to compensate for the lack of hostilities elsewhere.
We have the much-loved whimsy of the Xfm (4) breakfast boy, Christian O'Connell, on display in a spectacular A-to-Z of typefaces.
And we have a delightful invitation from Clarks (6) to laugh at ourselves, which only the churlish could refuse.
So there you have it: six different candidates, all with merit, offering a sweeping range of approaches. Now where haven't we heard that recently?
PLANNER - Simon Clemmow, planning partner, Clemmow Hornby Inge
One of the benefits of a brand having a big idea is that it doesn't always need excellent advertising. A genuinely big idea will sustain it through inevitable periods of lean budgets and less-than-great executions.
The Economist (2) is a good example - none of these posters is up there with, say, "'I never read The Economist.' Management trainee. Aged 42." But even if they serve to remind us of the highlights of this exceptional campaign, they will have done their job of giving the publication a badge value that, for example, puts it way ahead of Management Today and Harvard Business Review as adland's favourite business magazine.
Evian (5) has a big idea too - its Alpine provenance - which has made it the biggest-selling water around, despite never having had a decent ad as far as I can remember (with the exception of a simple poster showing a picture of the mountains with a headline saying "Welcome to our factory", or words to that effect). This TV execution almost undermines the big idea by presenting the Alps as one big, cheesy, shiny-happy-people snowball fight.
I like the Clarks (6) campaign. A series of TV commercials builds the idea of individuality by showing a range of different shoes and using the strapline: "Be your own label." The creative idea pulls off the difficult trick of making us laugh at the target audience as well as like them, by portraying endearing character traits as diverse as Britishness, greenness, energy and thrift.
In my view, Clarks is becoming a textbook case study of a successful brand repositioning. I hope sales are good - I'm told that they are.
I like the Dunhill (1) press campaign, too. The images are beautiful showcases for displaying products that are available today from a store that's been "equipping gentlemen since 1893". I'll visit the shop having seen these ads.
Finally, two pieces of tactical activity: one a campaign, one a single ad. The campaign is for the Christian O'Connell breakfast show on Xfm (4). It's a series of print executions with headlines such as "Alsatians, what is their problem?" and "Olives: perverts' food?", and the strapline: "Welcome to Christian's world." It's probably preaching to the converted. As a potential listener, my takeout is that it's trying very hard to be yoof and anti-establishment (yawn) and it doesn't sound very welcoming. I won't be tuning in.
The single ad is a TV execution for Budweiser (3), underlining its sponsorship of the FA Premier League. Bravely, it tackles the disconnect between Budweiser's US heritage and English football head-on, by rejecting its own comic improvements to the game and proposing: "You do the football, we'll do the beer." Unfortunately, this simply reinforces the disconnect and raises a question-mark over the relevance of the sponsorship.
I think it would have done better to take a leaf out of Nike's or Coca-Cola's book by trying to get under the skin of the game, rather than standing apart from it.
Project: Equipping gentlemen on the move
Client: Paddy Byng, marketing director, Alfred Dunhill Menswear
Brief: Evolve the brand by communicating Alfred Dunhill's pedigree,
product functionality and exquisite quality to a discerning masculine
Agency: Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest
Writer: Bill Hartley
Art director: Giles Hepworth
Photographer: Jerry Oke
Exposure: National men's magazines, newspapers
2. THE ECONOMIST
Project: Spring poster burst
Client: Jacqui Kean, brand marketing manager, The Economist
Brief: Don't get left behind
Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Writers: Nigel Roberts, Andy McAnany, Ian Heartfield, Adam Rimmer, Tim
Riley, Richard Foster
Art directors: Paul Belford, Christian Sewell, Matt Doman, Pete Davies
Exposure: National posters
Project: Budweiser FA Premier League sponsorship
Clients: Oliver West, consumer marketing controller; Andy Pearcey,
consumer marketing manager, Anheuser-Busch Europe
Brief: Make the quintessential American beer a true part of the English
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writers: Ted Heath, Mike Crowe, Nick Strada
Art directors: Paul Angus, Rob Messeter, Greg Mitchell
Director: Scott Vincent
Production company: Hungry Man
Exposure: National TV
Project: The Christian O'Connell breakfast show
Client: Charlotte Soussan, head of marketing, Xfm
Brief: Promote Christian O'Connell's breakfast show on Xfm
Art director: Mother
Design: Harriman Steel
Exposure: London poster sites
Clients: Christine Renier, marketing director; Nick Brock, marketing
manager, Danone Waters UK
Agency: Euro RSCG London
Writer: Tim Swan
Art director: Miguel Soares
Director: Fred Garson
Production company: Bare
Exposure: National TV
Client: Ted Hart, marketing director, Clarks
Brief: Generate a positive disposition towards the brand and range
Agency: St Luke's
Writer: Tim Collins
Art director: Mike Hughes
Director: Steve Reeves
Production company: Another Film Company
Exposure: National TV