If you saw the Spitfire ads, you'd probably say "roger". Not because of the parsimonious production budget - great ideas are often in inverse proportion to the size of the budget - but because of the paucity of puns about the French Resistance, Secret Service and The Joystick. Victoria Cross was the best one, but even that made Reviewer Tetchy. Generally enough to make Douglas Bader want to saw off his drinking arm as well.
During recessions and other times of strife, we're told, we revert to family values, and Weetabix has stampeded back to home territory, with a campaign that uses children's imaginary games to steer mum towards the energy-giving properties of the brand. Now I personally worship and adore Weetabix but imagine it has all the energy-giving properties of a Spotted Dick. That niggle aside, it's well targeted, nicely art directed and charming enough. If not quite as Withabix as it was before.
Womankind reminds us that it's not all soft focus in the real world that women inhabit today. The other world of domestic violence, rape and murder is all too common. The juxtaposition of sensual cosmetic pictures and brutal facts makes the point strongly. But does showing the sexualised packaging of women make Womankind as much a part of the problem as part of the solution?
Another thing people do in a recession is drink. This Christmas' Drink Drive campaign is sensibly aimed at the toping masses, who believe that all drink drive advertising is aimed at everyone in the known universe except their good selves, because they can hold their drink. A man, who has just "had a couple", is following a kid cyclist down the street. The nail is accurately aimed at the heart but when the inevitable denouement happens, it is tapped in rather gently rather than being smashed in with a hammer.
One strange thing about this recession is that the "consumer" (OK, I mean my wife) hasn't really caught on yet and is still spending as if there is no tomorrow (mind you, with Dubya around, there probably won't be one). Barclaycard, unsurprisingly, is trying to encourage this trend, with its three new spots. The best shows a couple measuring up the Mona Lisa for the front room on the grounds that it matches their skirting boards. Nicely acted and a gentle smile. Will it work? If my wife buys The Blue Woman to match the toilet cleaner, I'll let you know.
Finally, a triumphant "No" to the question I posed at the beginning.
As long as there are ads like Nike's latest two around, there is no creative recession. Nike knows there is only one thing to do when the climate, either economic or actual, turns nasty - put your running shoes on. These spots positively revel in crappy weather and it is a tribute to the ideas and stunning photography that they do it so triumphantly. In their way, they are an anthem not just to sport but to bad times and how to get through them.
Martin, the recession is not bath- or toilet-shaped. It is puddle-shaped. Splash through them and you'll win through. If you have a blonde with you, it could even be fun.
Project: White ribbon campaign
Client: Maggie Baxter, executive director
Brief: Make people aware that violence against women is rife and random
throughout the UK
Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R
Writer: Mike Boles
Art director: Jerry Hollens
Typographer: Lee Aldridge
Photographers: Christopher Lane, Nick Clements and Pablo Alfaro
Exposure: National magazines, press and posters
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
Project: Drink Drive campaign
Client: Tony Allsworth, head of transport publicity
Brief: Help persuade 17- to 25-year-old males not to drink and drive
Writer: Simon Impey
Art director: Jon Daniel
Director: Simon Aboud
Production company: Union
Exposure: Satellite and national TV
Client: Tony Corp, marketing controller
Brief: Communicate Weetabix's healthy energy provision for young
Agency: Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB
Writer: Bryn Attewell
Art director: Mark Robinson
Typographer: Martin Crockatt
Photographer: Harriet Logan
Exposure: Monthly perinatal press
Client: Deborah Wood, head of advertising brand strategy team
Brief: Demonstrate that Barclaycard has some very competitive
Agency: BMP DDB
Writer: Dan Hubert
Art director: Amber Casey
Director: Shane Meadows
Production company: JFA
Exposure: Satellite and national TV
Project: "Streams" and "puddles"
Clients: Paulo Tubito, brand communication manager; Stefan Olander,
brand communication director
Brief: Just do it in bad weather
Agency: Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam
Writers: Joe Ventura, Carlo Cavallone and Paul Shearer
Art directors: Rachid Ahouyek and Paul Shearer
Directors: Dom & Nic
Production company: Outsider
Exposure: Selected European TV
Project: Spitfire TV
Client: Mark McJennett, sales and marketing director
Brief: Bring the essence of the poster campaign to life on TV
Writers: Steve McCabe and Ian Pittams
Art directors: Russell Wailes, Keith Otter and Denis Williams
Directors: Ravi Swami and Alon Ziv
Production company: Unity Pictures
Exposure: Satellite and London TV