PRIVATE VIEW: Steve Henry is the executive creative director at HHCL & Partners

I think it was Noel Coward who said: "If you're going to give someone a bad review, make sure you say that they're good looking, and that way they'll forgive you." In which case, I'd just like to say that I fancy the pants off all the people named on the right. I fancy them so much, I can't sleep and my trousers are wearing out at the front (more specifically, my view is that there are some great executions, but the strategic thinking disappoints me).

Red Letter Days is an interesting concept - the idea being to give someone a trip in a hot-air balloon as opposed to, say, a toaster. Which is a great idea, assuming you don't suffer from vertigo and your toaster works properly (apparently, in this context, I heard that Tony Scott gets his kicks from free-fall parachuting and scuba-diving - while Ridley Scott remarked that he achieved the same results with a bottle of wine. I must admit that I fall into the Ridley school).

The ad shows Santa's helpers (who seem to be in every second ad I see) telling me that I can give someone a trip in a hot-air balloon, as opposed to a toaster. There are some nice touches, but the thinking is a bit straight-line.

The Emirates ad is also well directed. It's stunning, in fact. Even the end shot of a boy running up to an airport window has been beautifully executed. But what's the thinking? The argument "Do something for the first time" is hardly an irresistible argument, is it? Do it ... because you haven't yet done it. On that basis, I should be spending this weekend cottaging in Sheffield, with a female friend dressed as a panda. But I don't think I will be (because, actually, I did it last month and I can tell you - it's over-rated).

The Debenhams ad has great music but looks like a less interesting version of a striking ad it ran last year. Now, I may have got this wrong, but surely year-two ads should give the idea that the company in question is going from strength to strength. Doing cheaper versions of your previous year's advertising doesn't really meet that criterion. In fact, the overriding impression is just that you've cut your marketing budget.

The O2 campaign tells me that it offers a picture messaging service on its mobile phone system. Now, is this news? Hold the front page - bear shit discovered in woods. I mean, who doesn't offer a picture messaging service on their mobile phone system? These days, you can get a picture messaging service on your dry-cleaning bill.

Waitrose's print work has beautiful production values; impeccable art direction and extremely evocative photography. It's an unfashionable campaign among some trendy London creatives, but I'm a big fan. Again, I just feel that the thinking could have been a bit more ambitious.

Waitrose cares about quality. Red Letter Days presents are more interesting than toasters. Debenhams has some Christmas stock in for Christmas. People who haven't flown with Emirates will find flying with it a new experience.

O2 offers a picture messaging service. The sum of human knowledge has not been greatly added to (really interesting strategies tend to offer an opinion, which people can agree or disagree with, rather than simply stating the obvious).

But I did like the Daz ad, which is based on a promotional link-up with Burger King. I loved the cliched shot of the woman holding up the stained shirt - because in this case, the shirt is stained as a result of using Daz (and then going to Burger King). And the endline is inspired: "Only Daz makes a meal out of washing up." The spoof 50s-style ad isn't particularly original, but with touches like that, there's obviously a great relationship between client and agency. It's brave, witty and it deserves to work a treat.

Mind you, there's one thing that you need to know about that lot at Leo Burnett. They're ugly bastards.


Project: Christmas brand campaign

Client: Alison Jones, head of marketing

Brief: Position Debenhams as the one-stop solution for Christmas gift

shopping for all the family

Agency: WCRS

Writer: Jude Healy

Art director: Dave Kelly

Director: Joe Roman

Production company: Rose Hackney Barber

Exposure: National TV


Project: Waitrose

Client: Amanda Bindon, head of marketing

Brief: Unlike others, Waitrose defines value as the relationship between

quality and price

Agency: Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB

Writer: Chris O'Shea

Art director: Ken Hoggins

Typographer: Martin Crockatt

Photographers: Various

Exposure: Weekend supplements and magazines


Project: "Keep discovering"

Client: Steve Wheeler, general manager, advertising

Brief: Encourage trial of the brand among business travellers

Agency: St Luke's

Writer: Roderick Fenske

Art director: Steve McKenzie

Director: Rob Sanders

Production company: HLA

Exposure: National TV


Project: Daz Burger King consumer promotion

Client: Jo Cooke, brand manager

Brief: Communicate the fact that Daz is so confident about its cleaning

and whiteness benefit that it is partnering with Burger King to offer a

free children's meal with every pack

Agency: Leo Burnett

Writer: Nick Bell

Art director: Nick Bell

Director: Jeff Stark

Production company: Stark Films

Exposure: National TV


Project: Media messaging

Client: Will Harris, vice-president, marketing

Brief: Position media messaging as young, fun and something for the


Agency: Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest

Writer: John McLaughlin

Art director: Mark Orbine

Photographers: Tara Moore, Gary Simpson, Paul Quinn, Roy Mehta, Ness

Sherry, Danny Burn Forti

Exposure: National posters and magazines


Project: Red Letter Days

Client: Gwen Miller, marketing manager

Brief: Red Letter Days is a better gift this Christmas (than the usual

rubbish you get)

Agency: Mother

Writer: Mother

Art director: Mother

Director: Michael Patrick Jann

Production company: Independent

Exposure: Selected national TV regions

Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a member

What is Campaign AI?

Our new premium service offering bespoke monitoring reports for your company.

Find out more

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content