I can't believe my luck.
In a year that won't go down as a vintage one for great creative work, out of the Campaign envelope pops a great vintage.
Lego (6) "kipper" 1981. One of my all-time favourite ads. It turns out that Lego is rerunning it in cinemas to mark its 50th anniversary. Good on 'em.
It's one of those ads that you just love watching again and again. A beautifully simple idea that comes straight out of the product, and, to top it all, a Tommy Cooper voiceover.
Anyway, I thought it would be good to get a totally objective view of the ad from someone who had never seen it.
Enter Gemma, my wonderful PA. I press play and she watches intently. As the end title appears, she screams out: "That's f****** wicked! That's really f****** wicked!"
I think it's fair to say that, as far as consumer response goes, it doesn't get much better than that!
Next up is the launch campaign for Freeview (3), featuring Fiz and Sean from Coronation Street.
It's a nice product demonstration showing the benefit of being able to pause and rewind live TV. It's simple and makes its point in an entertaining way. Given their competition is Sky+, it's going to be tough for them, but they seem to be off to a good start.
LittlewoodsDirect.com (5) is an interesting one. We open on a 50s-style rocket (branded "Littlewoods") landing on a planet in outer space. This planet is inhabited by women in white swimsuits who eagerly await the offerings from the spaceship. They try on lots of dresses and admire the flat-screen TVs and various other offerings from the Littlewoods rocket. The soundtrack is the hypnotic Dream A Little Dream Of Me that cuts well with the film.
Not sure what to make of it really. It's a tough brief in a tough market, but it is different for Littlewoods.
Moving on, we have Morrisons' (4) Christmas offering, starring Richard Hammond. For me, the spot is too much about Richard Hammond and his shopping trolley being pulled around by a pack of huskies and not enough about the Morrisons proposition of "we make and prepare more fresh Christmas food in-store than any other supermarket". It's a shame because I like Mr Hammond. Nevertheless, he isn't going to make me buy my Christmas lunch at Morrisons, whereas the proposition that is lost in the ad might have done.
The World Vision (2) spot is, I am sure, well-intentioned. So I don't want to be too critical. However, with the credit crunch and the recession at the front of everyone's minds, I think it's going to be even more difficult to get people to put their hands in their pockets and give to charities. Which means the advertising has to work even harder than before. The spot features a baby in the womb with a thought voice questioning what kind of future it can expect. Not sure this does it for me, but I hope for their sake that it does it for others.
Boots (1) "Secret Santa" is next. It's another good ad in the very good "here come the girls" campaign. It has a great spirit about it and I don't know any women who aren't fans of the campaign. It's well-observed and well-put-together. They also manage to show a range of Christmas gifts, which are cleverly weaved into the storyline. A feel-good ad to make you smile. (More of those, please.) Let's hope it does it for the high street this Christmas.
SUIT - Paul Hammersley, managing partner, The Red Brick Road
How delightfully old-fashioned. The envelope arrives from Campaign and it's full of six DVDs. Nothing online or digital. No DM. For that matter, no press, posters or even radio. Just five telly ads and one for cinema. Our clients at Thinkbox are right - TV is alive and kicking.
And without any doubt, by a country mile, the best of the bunch is itself 27 years old.
The wonderful and famous Lego (6) "kipper" commercial has come around again, and why not? It's never been bettered and was always a favourite of mine. I may be one of the few people who knows this, but Tim Lindsay, now the head of TBWA, the Lego agency, was the account exec on this ad the first time around at ... er ... TBWA. How many people can claim to have sold a great ad twice? If that's what it takes to get a whole new generation to enjoy this masterpiece, good on him.
So, to the distant runners-up in this week's race.
One traditional idea in danger of extinction is the concept of a campaign (you remember, when an idea was repeated in different ways again and again to make the same point and build long-term advertising and brand equity), but this is an admirable follow-up to a more recent favourite - "here come the girls" for Boots (1). Christmas always puts extra demands on the work to do some heavy lifting, as my partner, Paul Weinberger, would put it. There are lots of product and gift ideas stuffed in here, and some of the charm and observation of the first ad has been squeezed out, but we're in the second quarter of a recession here, it's Christmas and this stuff has got to sell.
There's also something old-fashioned and traditional about the Morrisons (4) campaign, and I don't mean that in the pejorative way, either. This is the latest in another campaign that has helped people reappraise a once-troubled retailer. Will it be troubling the jurors? No, but it's clear, simple and direct, with just enough charm to carry it through.
Which, with respect, is more than I can say for the final piece of retail work this week. I assume that because it's for LittlewoodsDirect.com (5), someone decided it had to avoid tradition and be all modern and futuristic? I can't think of any other reason why a Littlewoods space rocket should descend on a distant planet and dispense gifts to various models and an octopus to the tune of Dream A Little Dream Of Me. I'm sorry, but I have no idea what's going on here or why.
I can't believe I'm saying this but, please bring back Susannah and Trinny and let Ella and Louis rest in peace.
The commercial for Freeview (3) could certainly be described as a rather old-fashioned way to advertise a new digital TV offering. I know the Beattie McGuinness Bungay boys will hate me for that, but, again, no criticism is intended - if you have something rational to say, there's never been a better way than with a witty bit of product demo, and this one does the job very nicely. Maybe it's because I'm a die-hard Sky viewer and Sky+ user, but my real problem here is that the message seems like such old hat to me, and I can't help feeling there's something more compelling about Freeview to talk about (like lots of free TV?).
Finally, how can anyone really criticise a valiant attempt to extract donations to help horribly disadvantaged children in the Third World? I suspect, to continue the theme, that what would work harder for this brief is some good old-fashioned DRTV. I hope this stuff works for World Vision (2), and if it does, good luck to them, but I fear it may not.
Project: Secret Santa
Client: Elizabeth Fagan, marketing director, Boots
Brief: Communicate the breadth of the Christmas gift offering at Boots
Art director: Mother
Director: Ulf Johansson
Production company: Smith & Jones
2. WORLD VISION
Project: Which is it to be?
Clients: James Mooring, head of consumer marketing; Matt Wenham,
acquisition manager, World Vision
Brief: Raise awareness of World Vision child sponsorship and recruit new
Writer: Alex Bass
Art director: Chris Jefferys
Director: Dan Douglass
Production company: Unit
Exposure: National TV
Project: Freeview+ - Coronation Street
Client: Rob Farmer, head of marketing and communications, Freeview
Brief: Communicate the benefits of Freeview+ using British talent
Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay
Writer/art director: Simon Bere
Director: Niall Towl
Production company: ITV Creative
Exposure: National TV
Project: Morrisons' Christmas
Clients: Michael Bates, marketing director; Richard Burgess, head of
Brief: Celebrate the range of Christmas food made and prepared in-store
Agency: DLKW & Partners
Writer: Richard J Warren
Art director: Paul Hancock
Director: Jorn Threlfall
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: National TV
Project: Christmas ad
Client: David Inglis, sales and marketing director, Shop Direct Group
Brief: Promote the range of clothes and speedy delivery offered by
Writer: Alex Holder
Art director: Oli Beale
Director: Sara Dunlop
Production company: Home Corp
Exposure: National TV
Client: Clive Nicholls, advertising manager, Lego
Writer: Mike Cozens
Art director: Graham Watson
Director: Ken Turner
Production company: Clearwater