Like everyone embarking on Private View (which is about as private as a professional footballer's love life), I'm desperately hoping the envelope on its way from Hammersmith is bulging with gems. A Sony Bravia. The next Honda masterpiece. An "Ed Morris' salary" kind of ad.
Sadly, there are no gems. No Levi's "laundrette" in my envelope. But there's nothing terrible either. Mostly a pretty decent effort when one remembers - as we always should - it's bloody hard to get great work out.
Even the geniuses in our industry only crack it once in possibly every three goes. The rest of us have to settle with one in every 100.
With my positive hat close at hand, here goes.
First up is a skull that lands on your doorstep for South Eastern Trains (6). Inside the headline reads: "The London Dungeon. It's on your doorstep." I wonder, is the "our product is on your doorstep" a well-trodden doorstep?
Putting my positive hat on, I'm sure it will get noticed and may well drive anyone remotely interested to the London Dungeon. Whether they'll take South Eastern Trains is another question.
Next is a campaign for the Home Office (5), called Enough. And my worry is there's not enough. About Enough that is. The visual idea of taking an image from outside inside for domestic violence is strong. However, the facts are sadly not new enough news for the campaign to work on its shock value. And I'm left wanting to know more about Enough. What it does.
How it can help.
Enough of that, as here comes the Ford Focus ST (2). Orange and throbbing.
Not bad. But not a Capri 1.6 GL with vinyl roof. Like lots of car brands, what Ford needs is a brand idea with a consistent tone of voice to hold everything together. Something Ford stands for.
Next, a pint of Guinness (1). Having felt the burden of Volkswagen's heritage at DDB, I can imagine the weight of expectation is somewhat similar on Guinness. There's been some genuine genius work on Guinness over the years. Last year's reverse evolution was great. And then there was a certain "surfer" not long before that. This is the "like a pub in your fridge" thought. And quite nicely done too.
I have to get on my home computer to see the next work for BT Broadband (3). Five ideas designed to make us aware of the need for greater security on our home computers. Again, the work is fine, but I can't help thinking a trick has been missed and something more involving could have been done. Something that uses the medium better. After all, the message is being delivered in the very medium under scrutiny.
And finally we arrive in Hollyoaks. Work for Channel 4 (4) has been excellent.
I loved the recent Shameless poster where the cast stole the headline and logo from their own ad. This is a before-and- after idea for a "Hollyoaks effect". Which is not unlike the "Lynx effect". Personally, I prefer the before to the after. The after is a hellish world of models from Cheshire who either want to cop off with a Manchester United footballer or look like one. Hang on a minute, is there a Man Utd footballer you'd want to look like? Anyway, the before is much more my pint of lager. The kind of boozer where if you could name one of the Seven Wonders of The World you'd win the pub quiz.
It seems I've been more Dirty Harry than Officer Dibble. Must try to be more good cop next time.
CHAIRMAN - Kelvin MacKenzie, chairman, Media Square
I know from my days getting immersed in creating advertising for talkSPORT that if it isn't simple, immediate and clever, it simply won't trigger the sale. This week's crop helps neatly illustrate the point. I might be accused of being too black and white in my outlook, but half are good, half are bad.
Malcolm Muggeridge once said: "History will see advertising as one of the real evil things of our time. It is stimulating people constantly to want things, want this, want that." I disagree completely, advertising is a powerful force for good, but I'm afraid that an even worse evil is that some ads just don't stimulate me to want anything.
The contrast between good and bad is most apparent when you place side-by-side the hugely expensive Ford Focus ST (2) television ad with the South Eastern Trains (6) direct mail piece, which must have cost them the merest of pennies. One is straightforward and compelling, the other isn't.
The sinister skull mailer, which contains no external copy, compels anyone with even the mildest form of curiosity to take a look inside. While it's not the best copy ever written, of the work I'm reviewing, it ticks the boxes of simple, immediate and clever. As a result, it's a triumph.
Ford is a global brand which is scared of offending. I'm afraid it needs to aggravate some people in order to get its message across and create some reappraisal of the brand. Maybe I'm missing the point, but the ad asks: "What did you want to be when you grew up?" For me, the answer on the tip of my tongue was not: "To be the owner of an Orange Ford".
Also, am I alone in failing totally to understand why we get a passing shot of a truck with a dinosaur on the back?
The Guinness (1) television ad worked. Irreverent and well made, it successfully moves away from the horses in the sea and fish on bikes, a style of ad that simply washed over me. You get the feeling that the agency is proud of the product here. It even featured images of the can - whatever next!
The Home Office (5) domestic violence helpline press ads are fantastically clever and the flowers in the kitchen "crime scene" execution is by far the most impactful. They should lose the other two versions and lead on the kitchen ad to grab some significant attention.
The Channel 4 (4) ads for Hollyoaks are a good idea that didn't work.
In trying to be clever, I think they have fallen a little flat. I don't like what I'm seeing, with a dog peeing on the pub carpet and a couple having fisticuffs in the background - a little ironic given the domestic violence helpline campaign above. It's tempting to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but Channel 4 shouldn't underestimate FHM's readership.
The online advertising for BT Broadband (3) and its security campaign is surprising in that it really doesn't make the most of the medium. Given that the attention span of its target audience is shorter than a meerkat after a double espresso, the creative has to be especially crisp, witty and capable of standing out. If it's not, it'll simply start working against the brand you're trying to promote by slowing down busy people.
Unfortunately, what's appeared is so slow and bland that it's painful to watch, even as a conscientious reviewer for this column. This work could have been much more challenging about the very real security risks internet users face. One could speculate that BT was scared about provoking too big a debate on the subject. Rich media has the capability of delivering so much more.
1. GUINNESS Project: Fridge Client: Russell Jones, marketing director Guinness GB, Diageo Brief: Prove to sceptical Guinness drinkers they can get the real thing at home Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO Writer: Adrian Rimmer Art director: Pete Davies Director: JJ Keith Production company: HSI London Exposure: National TV 2. FORD FOCUS ST Project: Growing up Client: Lyn West, communications specialist, Ford Europe Brief: Launch the Ford Focus ST Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Writer: Kate Paull Art director: Stuart Pantoll Director: Greg Gray Production companies: Velocity, Framestore CFC Exposure: National TV 3. BT BROADBAND Project: Broadband security Client: Tracey Follows, head of consumer marketing, BT Brief: Persuade the target audience that only BT gives them the protection they need online Agency: Agency.com Writer: Steve Whiteley Art director: Oliver Robinson Exposure: Online 4. CHANNEL 4 Project: Rub some Hollyoaks on it Client: Katie Hayes, marketing manager, Channel 4 Brief: Ignite interest in the show in a young, mainstream audience beyond the existing fan base Agency: 4creative Art director: Alice Tong Exposure: National press 5. HOME OFFICE Project: Domestic violence Client: Sharon Sawyers, strategic communications advisor, Home Office Brief: Communicate changes in the law Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R Writers/art directors: Mike and Jerry, Zac Ellis, Richard Littler, Kim Planner, Megan Thompson Photographer: Nick Georghiou Exposure: Regional press, outdoor 6. SOUTH EASTERN TRAINS Project: Great days out Client: Janet Somerville, commercial director, South Eastern Trains Brief: Drive off-peak journeys Agency: Rapier Writer: Ruth Blair Art director: Kevin Howes Exposure: Door-drops in London, the South-East and Kent