This reflection is partly brought on by what many think was (with some very notable exceptions ) a rather lacklustre year for great ads at D&AD, the British Television Advertising Awards, the Campaign Press Awards and Cannes. But also, in part, by the contents of this week's envelope.
It's not that there are any stinkers in there. Most of the ads are sensible and well-executed and some are quite sweet. It's just that, with the exception of one campaign, none really trouble the Richter scale.
At least poo has the honesty to stink. Most work, it seems, is odour-free and can be invisible.
Ironically, Flash, the best and most visible campaign of this week's bunch, is all about the invisibility of nasty things. In one ad, we see a dog lick its parts and then the baby's high chair. In another, a kid runs his toy truck through the cat litter and then over the kitchen carving board.
The line "Because you can't see everything" ties up a powerful case for bacterial wipes. Good stuff. And I have definitely banned the kid's gerbils from exercising in the Le Creuset.
The Flash ad is rightly done in the familiar wobbly cam style as it affects to document reality. But when I saw the wobbly Shredded Wheat ad, I yearned for a tripod.
A bloke reading out a pack label to his girlfriend doesn't qualify as "reality" in my book ("Is that Dostoevsky you're reading, darling?" "No, actually it's my genital warts tube copy"). There's some charm in the fact that she's taken umbrage. But the end is twee and it's just ... well, you know.
The camera doesn't actually wobble in the Iceland ads. The cameraman has a firm grip of his fly-on-the-wall camera as he films a family giving spoof award acceptance speeches for their Iceland dinners. Actually, the idea's sweet but the gags don't quite pass the finishing post. Perhaps, they were having a mild attack of the gremlins.
The LearnDirect gremlins have been a strong branding device for the campaign against illiteracy. The new ones, like their predecessors, are well made but this time the hairs on the back of my neck remained somewhat recumbent. Maybe the little blighters are a bit past their scare-by date.
Rather like the publishers of More would have you believe about their rivals. When I saw the line "Frankly, everything else is so last fortnight", I smiled. When I saw the bus side announcing "This shade of red is so last fortnight", I tittered lightly.
Nice, I thought. But when I saw three more versions of the same line, I wilted. Shame.
Mind you, there is no fortnight in which the new Cunard campaign would appear anything but generic and superficial. A wee while ago, I worked on print campaigns for Cunard, so I know how much unique and motivating stuff there is to say about their ships. But, I'm sorry, floating watches, balloons and feathers aren't it. This is a case where less is just that ... less.
Looking back, maybe I've been a bit too cruel. Flash is pretty good. Most of the rest are perfectly respectable. But is that enough?
More than ever, in these jittery economic times, clients need strong, visionary work that rattles the cage and shakes the money out of increasingly apathetic consumers pockets. And if us Brits can't do it, who can?
This is a wake-up call to all of us ... me included. Does anyone out there agree?
PROCTER & GAMBLE
Project: Flash Antibacterial Wipes
Brief: Create a tactical campaign that raises awareness of the
functional benefits of using Flash Antibacterial Wipes
Agency: Grey London
Writer: Lee Brook
Art director: Tony Haigh
Director: Big Soda
Production company: Thomas Thomas
Exposure: Regional TV
Project: Cunard brand campaign
Client: Peter Shanks, senior vice-president
Brief: Communicate that only a Cunard holiday will make you feel this
Writers: Rob Turner, Clive Pickering
Art directors: Nick Hutton, Neil Dawson
Photographer: Laurie Haskell
Exposure: National press
Project: Adult Basic Skills
Clients: Samantha Hall, senior publicity manager, Department for
Education and Skills; Paul Harris, senior campaign manager, COI
Brief: Motivate adults with poor literacy and numeracy skills to enrol
on free courses
Agency: St Luke's
Writer: Seyoan Vela
Art director: Colin Lamberton
Director: Chris Dada
Production company: Academy
Exposure: National TV
Project: Yummy Awards
Client: Nick Canning, marketing director
Brief: Increase awareness of the high quality of Iceland products
Agency: HHCL/Red Cell
Writers: Ian Cawley, Jeremy Watson
Art directors: Ian Cawley, Jeremy Watson
Director: Simon Levene
Production company: Therapy
Exposure: National TV
CEREAL PARTNERS UK
Project: Bitesize Shredded Wheat "The Box"
Client: Dez Timmiss, marketing director
Brief: Excite and recruit a younger group of women to Bitesize
Writer: John Hurst
Art director: Craig Miller
Director: Simon Cheek
Production company: Spirit Films
Exposure: National TV
Project: More Magazine
Client: Lucy Dryburgh, marketing manager
Brief: Publicise the relaunch of More Magazine, the only women's glossy
to come out fortnightly
Agency: Quiet Storm
Writer: Jo Wallace
Art director: Cat Campbell
Typographer: Simon Clarke
Exposure: National posters and bus-sides