Which means I can pretty much say what I like. So ... er ... bumhole!
Of course, such licence means less at Christmas than at any other time.
Criticising seasonal retail commercials has much the same skill/daring ratio as shooting cows. They just sort of stand there year after year, swathed in the same mix of tinsel, fairy lights, fake snow, unspeakable celebrities and unbeatable prices. It has always been this way and no amount of mordant apercus from the sniggering classes will make any difference.
Waitrose takes us on a burglar's creep of a nice rural house stuffed with yuletide comestibles at reasonable prices. It doesn't look quite as handsome as the same client's magazine work but the wicked Mr Pickett's Midnight Hour is a welcome respite from Jingle Bells.
Marks & Spencer has taken over from Woolworth's as the seasonal employment alternative to panto. Actually, the casting director has done a pretty good job here with most of the thousand or so celebrities used in this ad coming in well above the Biggins line. It would be invidious to single out one performance from this enormous cast, but Denise van Outen as the Christmas Fairy steals the show for me. She can sit on top of my Norwegian Pine any year.
Speaking of which, the old sex/chocolate chimera raises its ugly head and leers at camera on behalf of Thorntons. A series of vignettes reveals a succession of pleased women, their faces suffused with an unmistakeable post-coital glow, the "just-fucked" look of the truly sated. Of course, I could have misread the signs and they've all just enjoyed a particularly satisfying poo, but I think not. No, only two things can deliver this level of debilitating pleasure. Either Leon Jaume has snuck in under the fence or someone's left the lid off the Thorntons. Nicely filmed, great track, shame about the compulsory eating shot. I mean, how else do they expect people to ingest this product?
Now, there's always the possibility that one of these little minxes was faking it. This theme is taken up by Sekonda in a series of posters listing our phoney responses to cliche gifts. It's a generic thought of course but the robust art-direction mirrors the no-nonsense nature of these good-value timepieces.
Amazon depicts the horrors of Christmas shopping to promote its free* delivery service. This is an eminently sensible approach and the photography has a loose reportage feel about it that is pleasing to the eye. I'm not quite so convinced by the strapline, "Amazon.co.uk and you're done" though.
People like me who enjoy shopping as a contact sport need to be reassured that we won't actually get "done" on line.
Of all the people who saw the Blur "runaway milk carton" promo and thought "we could do that", Carphone Warehouse was the first to air. This parody of the National Canine Defence League's "A dog is not just for Christmas" is painstakingly accurate and painfully funny in a Theatre of Cruelty sort of way.
Project: "Effect" Christmas TV
Client: Richard Burgess, head of brand communication
Brief: Position Thorntons as the perfect present for women this
Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
Writer: Jeremy Carr
Art director: Jeremy Carr
Director: Peter Thwaites
Production company: Gorgeous
Exposure: National TV
Project: Amazon Christmas shopping 2002
Clients: Abi Frisby, retail marketing manager; Solomon Degia, retail
Brief: Amazon.co.uk is a far more convenient and stress-free way to shop
at the holidays
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Writer: Jenna Hall
Art director: Jayanta Jenkins
Photography: Edzard Piltz
Exposure: National and local press and outdoor - six-sheet posters,
escalator panels, tube cards and cross tracks
Project: Christmas house
Clients: Amanda Bindon, head of marketing; Maggie Hodgetts, head of
Brief: Waitrose has honestly priced, quality food this Christmas
Agency: Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB
Writer: Chris O'Shea
Art director: Ken Hoggins
Director: Stuart Douglas
Production company: @radical.media
Exposure: National terrestrial TV
Project: Sekonda XS
Client: Julian Pollock, managing director
Brief: Encourage people to give Sekonda XS watches as gifts this
Agency: Campbell Doyle Dye
Writer: Sean Doyle
Art director: Dave Dye
Typographer: Dave Wakefield
Photographer: Steve Rees
Exposure: National posters
MARKS & SPENCER
Project: Marks & Spencer Christmas TV
Client: Jude Bridge, head of external marketing
Brief: Make Marks & Spencer the high-street destination this Christmas
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Pip Bishop
Art director: Chris Hodgkiss
Director: Jeff Stark
Production company: Stark Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: A phone is for life
Client: Tristia Clarke, head of marketing
Brief: Remind people it matters where you buy your phone from this
Agency: Clemmow Hornby Inge
Writer: Charles Inge
Art director: Charles Inge
Directors: Mark Charach (live action); Russell Brooke (animation)
Production companies: HLA (live action); Passion Pictures (animation)
Exposure: ITV North, C4