I was a bit freaked out when I started looking at this week's work. It seemed unusually personal. It began with a Guinness parody, swiftly followed by a company that I used to have a stake in. Fortunately, I have no particular relationship with lager, milk or Chinese art, and absolutely none at all with K-Y Jelly.
The Pot Noodle (2) spoof is bloody funny. Obviously, I'm fond of the original, which helps, but the sight of hundreds of fag packets, wheelie bins and a blow-up doll doing their bit to create a Pot Noodle feast makes you proud to be British.
Howies (1). I'm also proud to confess that I was one of the original shareholders in Cardigan Bay's third-biggest clothing company. Mr and Mrs Hieatt have managed to get some of the biggest talents in advertising working for them over the years, and this latest work, courtesy of Dye Holloway Murray, doesn't let those standards drop.
Foster's (6). A pint that needs to be kept cool? Isn't that a shade generic? Reservations aside, this is the latest in the campaign and probably the most successful yet. Some nice Aussie gags: borrowing a fat lady's shadow, the inadvisability of nicking a crocodile's, etc.
Cravendale (3), according to its ads, is "filtered to make it purer". To be honest, impure milk isn't something I was particularly worried about. But this claim must have struck a chord with someone: Cravendale was the second-fastest-growing grocery brand last year (thank you, Nielsen). Maybe it's the demented pirate that does it.
HSBC's (4) sponsorship of the China Design Now exhibition. Tricky job, this. How can one ad sum up contemporary Chinese design? Tying it all together with an illustration is a hard-working Western solution, and full marks for integrating the sponsor's logo, but, somehow, I doubt it does justice to the stuff on show.
These days, there are plenty of imaginative URLs out there, but www.areyoubritishinbed.co.uk has to be one of the most intriguing.
It's promoting K-Y Touch Massage 2-in-1 (5) and it takes you to a passport control that asks you questions to explore your sexual nationality. I was rather chuffed to be deemed 81 per cent French and given a recipe for coq au vin to boot. It's quirky rather than sexy, and it doesn't commit the usual digital crime of being over-involved and time-consuming. I was in and out in five minutes. Oh dear. Maybe that makes me British in bed after all.
Finally, a particularly shameless piece of pluggery. It's a reminder to buy your tickets for the D&AD Awards on 15 May. This year, there's a whole new format. It's happening at the Royal Festival Hall and there will be spectacular installations, the best DJs and A Top International Star. Plus, of course, the world's finest creative work. Details at www.dandad.org. (Sorry, but as a member of the D&AD exec, I'll take every opportunity I can get.)
PLANNER - DAVID HACKWORTHY, PLANNING PARTNER, THE RED BRICK ROAD
When back in Oz recently, I was introduced to the unlikeliest ritual ... the "salad-off". It seems that rocking up to a barbie with a slab under one arm and a couple of yards of bangers under the other just doesn't cut it any more. My once-proud beer-guzzling, mullet-haired mates have developed a fierce new rivalry in the field of salad preparation. Expect Robbo to slyly lay on the table a rather cavalier mix of fennel, hearts of palm and mandarin; only to be gazumped by Bazza's daring concoction of shredded duck, chilli noodles, watermelon and Thai basil.
What's this got to do with advertising? Not a lot, except that it's nice to see brands such as XXXX and Foster's keeping the traditional Aussie stereotype alive, especially at a time when Mick Dundee may be going a bit alligator handbag on us. The latest Foster's (6) Super Chilled telly ad has some likely lads from Down Under running around and stealing shadows to keep their beloved beer cold. It's a valiant attempt to develop the creative idea they've had for a while, and the reworked Violent Femmes track keeps the action bouncing along, but it skips past a bit too quickly to really settle its point.
On the subject of stereotypes, I was able to test my sexual nationality out on K-Y Touch Massage 2-in-1's (5) "Are you British in bed?" web game - and it turns out I'm not British, not even Australian, but Brazilian (not sure my wife would agree with that one). There's plenty of sizzle to keep one entertained here, and some cute tricks along the way, but, as my old man would say, you spend too much time beating around the bush, rather than getting straight to the picnic ground.
As a true blue Aussie, I naturally enjoyed the use of sheep in the Howies (1) print campaign. These ads are beautifully art directed and refreshingly straight to the point. The only niggle I have is that they come across a bit "innocent" for a brand that has grown up with a more red-blooded attitude. But perhaps that's the point.
Us Aussies could do with a bit more culture, my agency partners keep telling me, so I was happy to see that HSBC (4) is branching out from pondering whether cricket is "riveting" or "ridiculous", and getting behind the China Design Now exhibition at the V&A. It's a well-conceived development of the world's local bank premise, and the print work is visually arresting stuff. A tasty addition to a campaign that's getting a bit overcooked.
The zany TV campaign for Cravendale (3) lets a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock and gets away with it, but this print work just doesn't cut the mustard. It's a case of "how can we attach some semblance of our TV idea to straight-off-the-shelf packshot print ads?". I doubt even the cows would want these ones back.
I end on the Pot Noodle (2) viral, which is a bloody "rippa" in anyone's language. Not a salad leaf in sight here; just a beautiful cascade of drinking, farting, cigarette packs, shopping carts and blow-up dolls. What's not to like? Yes, it's a bit post-modern watching a spoof of an ad that copies another that is based on someone else's work, but this film is just so fantastic to watch, who cares. Hats off to Unilever for letting this one go up.
That's it, I'm off to "Salad Daze" for lunch.
Project: Merino wool
Client: Dave Hieatt, founder, Howies
Brief: Emphasise the natural benefits of Merino wool versus man-made
Agency: Dye Holloway Murray
Writer: Tony Barry
Art director: Dave Dye
Illustrator: Kin Pro
Exposure: Sports and lifestyle magazines
2. POT NOODLE
Project: Tipping pot
Client: Allan Little, brand development manager, Unilever
Brief: Pastiche the Guinness "tipping point" ad and stimulate awareness
of Pot Noodle
Writer/art director: Colin Byrne
Director: Dom Bridges
Production company: Mustard London
Project: Cravendale, it's filtered to make it purer
Client: Louise Barton, senior brand manager, Cravendale
Brief: Communicate the benefits of Cravendale's unique filtration
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy London
Writer/art director: Nicholla Longley
Photographer: Franck Allais
Exposure: Press, outdoor
Project: Chinese paper cut
Client: Heather McCracken, group brand communications manager, HSBC
Brief: HSBC Cultural Exchange - China Design Now exhibition
Agency: JWT London
Writer: Ryan Lawson
Art director: Andy Smith
Photographer: Han Jing
Exposure: Outdoor, press
5. K-Y TOUCH MASSAGE 2-IN-1
Project: Are you British in bed?
Client: Jill Senior, marketing manager, K-Y
Brief: Capitalise on the launch of K-Y's new Touch Massage 2-in-1
Art director: Mother
Digital agency: Poke
Project: Stealing shadows
Client: Mark Given, marketing manager, Foster's
Brief: Show the lengths Foster's drinkers will go to to keep their
Foster's Super Chilled super-chilled
Agency: M&C Saatchi
Writer: Tom Drew
Art director: Uche Ezugwu
Director: Martin Granger
Production company: Moxie Pictures
Exposure: National TV