Campaign Promotion: The thinkboxes shortlist for April 2009 - A view from ... Damon Collins

Pot Noodle is rubbish. Its ads, however, are delicious. As a lifelong Flight Of The Conchords fan, the quirky-but-cool double act doing quirky-but-cool songs combo appeals enormously.

It's also succeeded in putting me back in touch with something long dormant: my "Inner Bloke". The ads are squarely aimed at the lazy, slobby, sexist, messy bedroom-loving male, who's not impartial to a good tune.

And, if you like Carry On ... films and Benny Hill and Max Miller and seaside postcards and Sun headlines, you have to marvel at some of the stuff they've got away with.

In previous ads, they've snuck out lines such as: "I wish that girls were more like Pot Noodle. Our love would be sweeter if she only came with the salty stuff" (please tell me it's not just me). This time, they present us with a semi-flaccid penis stuck on the end of a pen (now that's definitely not just me).

- Damon Collins, executive creative director, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

- This is one Thinkbox Academy member's view. What do you think? You can view the ads and Academy members can vote by going to www.thinkbox.tv/thethinkboxes

Thinkbox is the television marketing body for the main UK commercial broadcasters Channel 4, Five, GMTV, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and Viacom Brand Solutions. It works with the UK marketing community with a single ambition: to help customers get the best out of television.

The Thinkboxes are monthly, free-to-enter awards covering all forms of TV advertising creativity. Shortlisted entries are featured in Campaign, judged by members of the Thinkbox Creative Academy and the winner is showcased in Marketing. Find out more at www.thinkbox.tv/thethinkboxes


This latest execution in 888.com's comedic "bingo superstars" campaign shows Jenny, a model with slightly less than glamorous credentials, participating selflessly ("I'm not doing this for me ... I'm doing this for bingo") in a shoot for a glossy, bingo-themed wall calendar. Previous executions have featured a tone-deaf girl recording a single and another wannabe pop star making a pop video with "big bouncing bingo balls". This film develops a succession of cringeworthy moments (and costume changes, notably a wonderful gold lame catsuit) including a December snow scene where Jenny is asked to tease a stuffed polar bear; and June's tennis-themed scenario where the big bouncing balls make another appearance. The campaign seeks to help 888ladies keep its title as the fastest-growing bingo site by getting more women online to chat and play bingo on the site.

Creative agency: Grey London
Creative team: Grey London
Client: Matt Robinson
Production company: Moxie Pictures
Director: James Griffiths


The challenge in this phase of VCCP's campaign for comparethemarket.com, featuring Aleksandr, the Russian meerkat, was to create an ad that improved brand recall: the objective was to increase the number of drivers searching out comparethemarket.com by name. Here Aleksandr, who still feels aggrieved at the confusion between "comparethemeerkat.com" and "comparethemarket.com", is joined by Sergei, the head of IT at comparethemeerkat.com. In Aleksandr's words: "Sergei is very old. It is difficult to date him exactly but I estimate him no less than 77." In a bid to stop the system being overloaded with requests for car insurance, they try to introduce a new server gizmo - the "computermabob" - which flashes into life, shocking Sergei in the process. This is the third spot in the acclaimed meerkat campaign - which has outperformed rivals with three times the spend.

Creative agency: VCCP
Creative team: Darren Bailes, Steve Vranakis, Matt Lloyd, Rich Connell,
Clem Woodward
Client: Mark Vile
Production company: Passion Pictures
Director: Darren Walsh


The J20 proposition is that when you take two fruits and mix them together, you have something infinitely more exciting - and the commercials in this campaign are a playful take on that concept, taking two scenes from recognised film genres and swapping the soundtracks round. In the ad featured here, the double entendres are drawn from a scene featuring a saddle-sore cowboy talking to his horse ("I love you Cynthia ... your eyes, your nose, your chestnut hair") juxtaposed with a Merchant Ivory-style Edwardian scenario, with an upper-class young man in a white suit proposing to a demure young lady in a long dress and a parasol. "That was a hell of a ride," he says. She simply neighs. In another execution, a swim-suited couple flirt by the poolside of a Texan mansion and this is paired with a scene at a Southern filling station. The tagline is: "It's metter to bix things up."

Creative agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Creative Nick Gill
Client: Jonathan Gatward
Production company: Gorgeous
Director: Chris Palmer


This latest ad for Pot Noodle celebrates the bringing together of Britain's favourite snack and another of the UK's culinary delights - the kebab. The result is celebrated in an all-singing, all-dancing spot fronted by the brand's in-house cheerleading duo, Steve and Digger. They belt out a pastiche of a Justin Timberlake-style R&B track explaining how they combined doner kebab and Pot Noodle in their "lab" to produce new doner kebab flavour Pot Noodle - and it contains the unforgettable image of a big chunky bloke gyrating in a black mini dress. The ad continues a series of music-themed initiatives by the brand, including Pot Noodle: The Musical, which ran on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, and a spoof of Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell. The new flavour extends the range, which has seen the addition of lamb hotpot, tikka masala and chicken satay in recent years.

Creative agency: Mother
Creative team: Mother
Client: Noam Buchalter
Production company: Hammer & Tongs
Director: Garth Jennings


With the car industry in turmoil, Toyota has moved to reinforce its range with the launch of four new models - and this 40-second TV commercial is running as part of a fully integrated communications campaign that includes national and regional press, websites, direct marketing and point of sale. In a clever film directed by Brett Foraker, the skin of each car becomes a dust sheet that can be whisked off, revealing another model below. A family unveils its seven-seat Verso; football-playing young adults unveil the IQ; a young couple with a dog uncovers the Urban Cruiser; and a man in a suit, carrying flowers, unveils the Avensis. Life-like cloth wraps and sophisticated post-production dovetail to bring a new twist to this classic special effects technique, rendered in an uninterrupted, live-action sweep of the camera. As the endline has it: "Unveiling four new Toyotas with Toyota Optimal Drive as standard."

Creative agency: CHI & Partners
Creative team: Angus Wardlaw, Alexei Berwitz
Client: Lisa Fielden
Production company: RSA Films
Director: Brett Forakery